The Edible Education 101 course was created in conjunction with the 40th anniversary celebration of Chez Panisse Restaurant and Café in Berkeley, California. Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse and the Edible Schoolyard Project, launched the course in partnership with UC Berkeley to bring edible education to the university level. The course, a unique hybrid public lecture series and for-credit class, has been offered to undergraduate students and members of the general public for three semesters since 2011.
2011 Course Description:
One of the many currents that the opening of Chez Panisse in 1971 helped set in motion is the movement now rising to reform the American food system. The restaurant focused an early light on the social and environmental benefits of farming sustainably and helped spur the growth of organic and local agriculture. Today, the food movement is a big, lumpy tent under which many different groups are gathering: organic agriculture, school lunch reform, food safety, animal welfare, hunger and food security, farm bill reform, farm-to-school efforts, urban agriculture, food sovereignty, local food economies, etc. As a subject, food is remarkably multi-disciplinary, drawing on everything from economics and agronomy to sociology, anthropology, and the arts. In this course, each week lecturers representing a wide variety of disciplines will explore what their particular area of expertise has to offer the food movement to help it define and achieve its goals. Students will have the opportunity to volunteer for a food-related non-profit organization three hours a week throughout the semester, and to write a short reflective essay synthesizing what they have learned through their volunteer work with what they have learned from the lectures and readings.
MIchael Pollan and Raj Patel
MICHAEL POLLAN: The Rise of Industrial Agriculture
In this course introduction, Professor Pollan will discuss the social, economic, and political changes that drove the rise of industrial agriculture in the United States, and review some of the challenges industrialization of farming and eating have brought to the food system, our health, and the environment.
RAJ PATEL: The Green Revolution and the Economics of the Food System
The international food complex has changed significantly over the last 20 years. How does the food economy shape countries’ access to good food? What social factors contribute to a country’s ability to feed (and nourish) its population?
BRENDA ESKENAZI & TYRONE HAYES: The Chemistry and Biology of the Industrial Food System
UC Berkeley scientists Brenda Eskenazi and Tyrone Hayes will discuss their respective studies of the effects of pesticides on our food and water supply.
JOAN DYE GUSSOW & MICHAEL MOSS: Consumerism, Marketing, and Health
What are the consequences of modern food processing and how did we get here? Can we blame our unhealthy eating habits on the food industry? On advertising? How much responsibility should the food industry have for public health? What steps can food producers and others in the food system take to address our nation’s health crisis, and what policies can or should be implemented to support these initiatives?
OLIVIER DE SCHUTTER: The Food Wars Across the Globe
Since his appointment as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, De Schutter has traveled across all regions to understand the challenges of the global food system. Which transitions are taking place, who wins, and who loses? What are the dominant discourses about how to address global hunger? What secret battles are being fought behind the scenes for the control over the food systems?
WAYNE PACELLE: Animals and the Food System
According to Wayne Pacelle, “Our 50-year experiment with factory farming has dramatically reduced the number of farmers on the land and produced an animal welfare calamity, with pigs, chickens, calves, and turkeys growing too fast and often confined so severely that they are immobilized for their entire lives. These confined animals are typically fed subsidized corn and soybeans, produced primarily to feed farm animals rather than people. Billions of animals, in turn, produce enormous volumes of untreated waste, which pollutes our ground water and putrefies the air. Americans have among the highest per capita rates of animal product consumption in the world, and that unusually high consumption pattern has produced a public-health crisis related to heart disease and certain forms of cancer. Producers’ use of antibiotics for non-therapeutic reasons has created an additional public health crisis, by allowing for the emergence of classes of antibiotic-resistant super-bugs. A variety of reputable reports from scientists conclude that global livestock agriculture is responsible for 14-51 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. We need a new model of agriculture if we are to protect the public, maintain reasonable animal welfare standards, and preserve rural communities.”
ALICE WATERS, CYNTHIA ROSENZWEIG & COURTNEY WHITE, interviewed by ANNA LAPPE: Agriculture and Climate Change
“The global industrial food system contributes an estimated 44-57 percent of global greenhouse gases to climate change. In contrast, the world's small-scale farmers—the ones keeping agricultural diversity alive—provide 70 percent of all food eaten globally, using just 30 percent of the world's agricultural land” (The Guardian). How does our agricultural practices impact climate change? What are some of the strategies agriculture might adopt to mitigate and possibly even reverse climate change?
JOEL SALATIN: Reinventing the Farm
Joel Salatin describes his Polyface Farms this way: “We are in the redemption business: healing the land, healing the food, healing the economy, and healing the culture.” What can we learn from the farming practices at Polyface Farms that can be applied to farming practices elsewhere and in our own urban gardens? How do their practices support the goals they've laid out for themselves, from healing the planet to supporting a more vibrant local economy?
RON FINLEY: Urban Adaptation and Edible Education
Urban agriculture has the potential to revitalize, educate, and nourish communities, and create local economies. What are some of the less visible benefits of urban agriculture? Why do Ron Finley and others have to fight to bring healthy food and edible gardens to their neighborhoods? What role does the urban ag movement play in the food movement overall? How is this movement allied with the movement to install gardens and food education in schools? How do these activists collaborate, or not?
PAMELA RONALD: Plant Genetic Engineering and the Future of Food
Genetically Modified Organisms have become a flashpoint of debate within the food movement. While technological developments can help provide resilient foods for a changing climate, many consumers remain skeptical. Michael Pollan and Pamela Ronald will discuss the risks and benefits of GE crops in advancing sustainable agriculture.
GREG ASBED, LUCAS BENITEZ & SARU JAYARAMAN: The Hands That Feed Us: Labor in the Food System
According to The Hands That Feed Us, a report by the Food Chain Worker’s Alliance, (co-authored by Saru Jayaraman in June 2012) more than 20 million people in the United States work in some capacity along the food chain. The report also points out that ironically, these workers suffer higher levels of food insecurity (uncertainty about one’s ability to afford food), than the rest of the US workforce. Today, multiple efforts are underway to shift policies and educate consumers to make better choices that will support more sustainable labor practices, both for farmworkers and for restaurant and food processing workers. What are the similarities—and differences—between these two important US food labor movements? What is the relationship between middle- and working-class activists? What are the levers for change in the food labor system, and how can we, as consumers, influence a shift in both cultural practice and policy?
GAIL MYERS, NIKIKO MASUMOTO & ANNABELLE LENDERINK: The New Face of American Agriculture: Women Farmers
Women operate one in ten farms in America—and this number is steadily increasing: the number of US farms operated by women nearly tripled over the past three decades, from 5 percent in 1978 to 14 percent by 2007. Many women are drawn to farming as a way to support their family and to strengthen their community. Globally, scholars like Olivier De Schutter and Raj Patel have suggested that enabling more women to enter the farming workforce could radically change developing economies and reduce hunger.
What influences does this influx of women farmers bring to agriculture in the United States? And how is their participation in farming apt to change our culture and society in the future? What challenges do female farmers face because of their gender?