Edible Education 103: Telling Stories About Food and Agriculture (2012)

 This course was held August through December 2012


  • Day/Time: Tuesdays, 6:00 - 7:45 pm, fall semester 2012
  • Location: Wheeler Auditorium, University of California, Berkeley
  • Instructor: Michael Pollan, Knight Professor of Journalism
  • Listing: Cross-listed Letters and Science C103 (ccn 52000) and Journalism C103 (ccn 48037), open to all UC Berkeley students 
  • Units: 2; P/NP



  • As the costs of our industrialized food system—to the environment, public health, farmers and food workers, and to our social life—become impossible to ignore, a national debate over the future of food and farming has begun. Telling stories about where food comes from, how it is produced—and how it might be produced differently—plays a critical role in bringing attention to the issue and shifting politics. Each week, a prominent figure in the debate explores: What can be done to make the food system healthier, more equitable, more sustainable? What is the role of storytelling in the process?



  • This course is currently open for enrollment to all UC Berkeley students. There will be 300 seats available to the general public each week, by reservation. To reserve a seat, click on the title of the lecture you would like to attend (each lecture must be reserved separately). Reservations will open at 10:00 am (Pacific Time) on the Wednesday preceding each lecture and will close at 11:59 pm (Pacific Time) on the Monday preceding each lecture. If you see a message that says, "Registration is closed for this event", it means that registration has not yet opened for that lecture. If all seats are reserved, you will see a message that says, "This lecture is currently fully reserved."
  • We will also be posting the recorded lectures in our Resource section as well as on our Vimeo and YouTube pages.
  • In addition, we will be hosting Google Hangouts with a number of the lecturers throughout the fall. Check back for details on our events page and our YouTube page to watch the Hangouts live!




August 28: Michael Pollan

Introduction: Michael Pollan, Knight Professor of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley

MICHAEL POLLAN is the John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, and the director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism. For the past twenty-five years, he has written about the places where nature and culture intersect: on our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in the built environment. He is the author of four New York Times bestsellers: Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual (2010); In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (2008); The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006) and The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World (2001); and co-producer of the award winning documentary film, Food Inc. In 2010, Time Magazine named Pollan one of the world’s 100 most influential people. In 2009 he was named by Newsweek as one of the top 10 “New Thought Leaders.”


September 4:  Peter Sellars

Social Practice: Peter Sellars, Director

PETER SELLARS is an American theatre director and professor of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA. He is celebrated for his contemporary stagings of classical operas and plays. Recipient of a McArthur Fellowship, Sellars has worked as Director of the American National Theatre in Washington, D.C., and has staged operas including Handel’s Giulio Cesare, and Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. In 2005, he received the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. Recently, Sellars directed a production of John Adams’ Nixon in China at the New York Metropolitan Opera.


September 11: Paul Rozin

The Psychology of Food: Paul Rozin, Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania

PAUL ROZIN is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and the author of numerous publications on Cultural Psychology. His focus is on understanding the role of food in human life, positive psychology, and ethnopolitical conflict. Paul’s work on food includes comparative studies of food attitudes and the function of pleasure in a number of cultures, including the U.S., France, India and, Japan; the role of relatively subtle environmental factors (such as portion size) on food intake; the meaning and reason for preference for natural things, in a cultural context; ambivalence to foods, especially meat and chocolate; attitudes and beliefs about the relationship between diet and health; the psychology of water; and the acquisition of likes and dislikes for foods. In positive psychology, his study includes the relation between memories of valenced experiences and the actual experiences, and the distinction between comforts and joys, in a cultural context, with comparisons of France and the U.S.; and in ethnopolitical conflict, studies include ethnic aversions, forgiveness, and attachment to land. His work has been carried out in the U.S., Israel/Palestine, and Sri Lanka.



September 18: Chellie Pingree, Dan Imhoff & Ken Cook

The Farm Bill: Congresswoman Chellie Pingree; Dan Imhoff, Co-Founder and Director, Watershed Media; Ken Cook, President and Co-Founder, Environmental Working Group

CHELLIE PINGREE was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008 from Maine’s 1st Congressional District, making her the first woman elected to Congress from that district. In 2011 Congresswoman Pingree, an organic farmer since the 1970s, introduced the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act—a comprehensive package of reforms to our nation's farm policy designed to promote local and regional food systems. Pingree also served four terms in the State Senate where she fought for economic and social justice, taking on powerful adversaries—most notably the pharmaceutical lobby. In 2000 Pingree became the National President and CEO of Common Cause, a non-partisan citizen activist group with 35 state chapters. Pingree lives on the island of North Haven, Maine where she and her husband own Turner Farm, which provides fresh vegetables, meat, eggs, and cheese for Nebo Inn, which Pingree also owns.

DAN IMHOFF is a researcher, author, and independent publisher who has concentrated for nearly 20 years on issues related to farming, the environment, and design. He is the author of numerous articles, essays, and books including CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories; Food Fight: The Citizen’s Guide to a Food and Farm Bill; Paper or Plastic: Searching for Solutions to an Overpackaged World; Farming with the Wild: Enhancing Biodiversity on Farms and Ranches; and Building with Vision: Optimizing and Finding Alternatives to Wood. Dan is the president and co-founder of Watershed Media, a nonprofit publishing house based in Healdsburg, California. He is the president and a co-founder of the Wild Farm Alliance, a ten-year-old national organization that works to promote agriculture systems that support and accommodate wild nature.

KEN COOK is president and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a public interest research and advocacy organization that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.

Cook is the author of dozens of articles, opinion pieces, and reports on environmental, public health, and agricultural topics and is a frequent source of perspective and commentary in national print and broadcast media. He is regularly listed as one of Washington's Top Lobbyists by The Hill newspaper and in 2011, journalist and healthy food movement icon Michael Pollan named Cook as one of the "Seven Most Powerful Foodies in the World.”

EWG is perhaps best known in agriculture policy circles for its Farm Subsidy Database, which lists all of the nation's farm subsidy recipients and their share of the $165 billion that taxpayers have spent on federal farm bill programs since 1995. Cook has spent decades advocating for reforms that would shift wasteful subsidy dollars to programs that help feed the hungry and advance conservation and environmental protections.

Cook earned a B.A. in history, B.S. in agriculture, and M.S. in soil science from the University of Missouri–Columbia. He is married to Deb Callahan and lives in northern California with their young son, Callahan.


September 25: The Kitchen Sisters

Documenting Food Stories: The Kitchen Sisters, Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson, Radio Documentarians

The Kitchen Sisters (DAVIA NELSON & NIKKI SILVA) are producers of the duPont-Columbia Award-winning NPR series, Hidden Kitchens, and the two Peabody Award-winning NPR series, Lost & Found Sound and The Sonic Memorial Project. Hidden Kitchens, heard on Morning Edition, explores the world of secret, unexpected, below-the-radar cooking across America—how communities come together through food. The series inspired their first book, Hidden Kitchens: Stories, Recipes, and More from NPR’s The Kitchen Sisters, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year for 2005 and nominee for the James Beard Award for Best Writing on Food. As independent producers, they are the creators of more than 200 stories for public broadcast about the lives, histories, art, and rituals of people who have shaped our diverse cultural heritage. The Kitchen Sisters educate and train new voices for public media in an imaginative, artistic, and creative approach to storytelling. They have taught and lectured at universities, festivals, workshops, and other public forums throughout the country and abroad.



October 2: Bob Cannard

On the Farm: Bob Cannard, Organic Farmer

BOB CANNARD has been farming sustainably for 30 years. His father was a nurseryman and, though he was brought up to accept pesticides as a normal part of gardening, he has since repudiated the use of synthetic chemicals. He has long been an important member of the sustainable food movement in Northern California. Cannard is the owner of Green String Farm, a 140-acre farm, with 50-60 acres in cultivation, in Petaluma, CA. For over 30 years, Bob has provided freshly picked produce to Chez Panisse Restaurant and Café, six days per week.


October 9: Claire Kremen

A Bee’s Eye View to Farming Sustainability: Claire Kremen, Professor, Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley

CLAIRE KREMEN is a conservation biologist and professor of environmental science, policy, and management at UC Berkeley's College of Natural Resources. Her applied research advances the fields of ecology, biodiversity, and agriculture. In September 2007 she was named a MacArthur Fellow and was recognized for her pioneering studies of the behavior of bees and other natural pollinators, and their critical role in the global human food supply. The studies showed that the ability of native bees to pollinate farm crops adequately is dependent on their access to natural habitats, underscoring the importance of restoring and protecting natural environments on farms. Her studies have found that one-third of the world's crop production relies upon pollinators. Claire is the founder of the Center for Diversified Farming on the UC Berkeley campus, which facilitates and coordinates faculty research in alternatives to industrialized agriculture and monocrops.


October 16: Mike Callicrate & Bob Martin

The Politics and Economics of Meat: Mike Callicrate, Rancher and Bob Martin, Senior Policy Advisory at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for a Livable Future

MIKE CALLICRATE is an independent cattle producer, business entrepreneur, and political activist. He serves as an outspoken leader in addressing the rural, social, and cultural impacts of current economic trends. He consulted on several best-selling books, including Fast Food Nation and Omnivore’s Dilemma, as well as the highly regarded films Food Inc. and Fresh. Since the mid-1990s, Callicrate has been actively involved in social and political efforts to improve the welfare of family farmers and to restore effective publicly-regulated markets, including participating as a plaintiff in two class action lawsuits against the big-four meat packers for anticompetitive practices. He is a founding member of several farm advocacy groups, including the Organization for Competitive Markets, R-CALF, and the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association. In recognition of his efforts, he has received the “Westerner of the Year” award from Western Ranchers Beef Cooperative; the first ever Legacy Award from the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association; and the Carl L. King Distinguished Service Award from the American Corn Growers Association. In 2000, he formed Ranch Foods Direct, a value-added meat company, which markets his high quality, all-natural Callicrate Beef and other locally produced meats along the Front Range of Colorado and over the internet at www.ranchfoodsdirect.com. The Ranch Foods Direct system of beef production includes several humane handling innovations, including mobile meat processing, which allows animals to be processed at the ranch and eliminates the stress of long-distance hauling. Earlier this year, he was named to the Colorado Agriculture Council for the Humane Society of the U.S.

BOB MARTIN is the senior policy advisor for the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) and a senior lecturer in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. For the past seven years, Martin has focused on issues affecting food system policy, including leading a special commission on how industrial food animal production impacts public health, the environment, rural communities, and animal welfare. Martin was previously a senior officer of the Pew Environment Group, a division of The Pew Charitable Trusts, where he advised issue campaigns aimed at eliminating the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in industrial food animal production and increasing Environmental Protection Agency oversight of industrial food animal production waste. Before joining Pew, Martin served in management positions in the offices of two U.S. senators and a congressman. From 1999 through 2005, he served in the office of U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), first as Communications Director, then Deputy Chief of Staff, and lastly as Sen. Johnson’s Special Counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. As Deputy Chief of Staff, he was a member of a senior staff management team that was responsible for the Washington, D.C. Senate office and three state constituent service offices.


  • Mike Callicrate:
    • Cornered, By Barry C. Lynn, describes the destructive nature of monopoly capitalism
    • Mike Callicrate blog
    • Mike Callicrate website
  • Bob Martin:
    • Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production's Final Report, Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America. While the entire report may be of interest, the portions to be covered in Bob's lecture include: pp. vi to ix, the Preface, pp. 15-16, discussion of the general problem, and pp. 56-73, the recommendations section of the report dealing with public health recommendations.


October 23: Kelly Brownell

Food Marketing and Childhood Obesity: Kelly Brownell, Professor of Psychology and Director, Yale Rudd Center, Yale University

DR. KELLY BROWNELL is Professor in the Department of Psychology at Yale University, where he also serves as Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health and as Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. He has advised members of congress, governors, world health and nutrition organizations, and media leaders on issues of nutrition, obesity, and public policy. He was cited as a “moral entrepreneur” with special influence on public discourse in a history of the obesity field and was cited by Time magazine as a leading “warrior” in the area of nutrition and public policy. Dr. Brownell was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine in 2006 and served as President of several national organizations, including the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, and the Division of Health Psychology of the American Psychological Association. He has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the James McKeen Cattell Award from the New York Academy of Sciences, the award for Outstanding Contribution to Health Psychology from the American Psychological Association, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Purdue University, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Rutgers University.


October 30: Joel Salatin

Farming as Dance – The Choreography of Polyculture: Joel Salatin, Farmer

JOEL SALATIN is a full-time farmer at Polyface Farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. A third generation alternative farmer, he returned to the farm full-time in 1982 and continued refining and adding to his parents’ ideas. The farm services more than 3,000 families, 10 retail outlets, and 50 restaurants through on-farm sales and metropolitan buying clubs with salad bar beef, pastured poultry, eggmobile eggs, pigaerator pork, forage-based rabbits, pastured turkey, and forestry products using relationship marketing. The author of nine books and a sought-after conference speaker, Salatin addresses a wide range of issues, from “creating the farm your children will want” to “making a white collar salary from a pleasant life in the country.” A wordsmith, he describes his occupation as “mob-stocking herbivorous solar conversion lignified carbon sequestration fertilization.” His speaking and writing reflect dirt-under-the-fingernails experience punctuated with mischievous humor. He passionately defends small farms, local food systems, and the right to opt out of the conventional food paradigm.



November 6: Jerome Waag, Charlie Hallowell, Samin Nosrat & Harold McGee

On Cooking: Jerome Waag, Chef, Chez Panisse Restaurant; Charlie Hallowell, Chef and Restaurateur (Pizzaiolo, Boot and Shoe Service) Samin Nosrat, Chef, Author and Teacher; with Harold McGee, Author

JEROME WAAG is Executive Chef of Chez Panisse Restaurant, and a performance and visual artist. He is co-creator of the collaborative project OPENrestaurant, an experiment in rethinking issues related to the production, distribution, and consumption of food. Locally, OPENrestaurant has produced interactive installations at SFMOMA, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the Berkeley Art Museum, among other venues, and they have been invited to participate in political, organizational, and fundraising activities for a wide variety of agencies and cultural institutions both here and abroad. Jerome is also a co-founder of The Citizens Laboratory, a performance collective focused on social practice and political activism. Jerome’s art incorporates food as both experience and political lever.

CHARLIE HALLOWELL is a chef and restaurateur who started his career in the kitchen at Chez Panisse. After eight years of working in the kitchen, a degree in English literature, and almost a decade in the Bay Area, Charlie opened, Pizzaiolo Restaurant in Oakland, based on the philosophy of using only seasonal, sustainably produced ingredients. Pizzaiolo, and Charlie’s second restaurant, Boot and Shoe Service, embody Charlie’s love of food, local politics, and the nightly production of a meal-time narrative. Charlie has found beauty and a measure of nirvana living above his restaurant with his two children, and cooking from and for the community around him. Charlie travels widely, is a collaborator with OPENrestaurant, and speaks fluent Mandarin.

SAMIN NOSRAT began her cooking career in her family kitchen, learning the art of Persian cooking and the importance of gathering around the table. Studying journalism with Michael Pollan at UC Berkeley and working in the kitchen at Chez Panisse, she has developed a passion for telling stories about food and articulating the importance of how and what we eat. Samin coordinates fundraising and awareness-raising activities nationwide using food as the vehicle for engagement and activism. She produced “Bake Sale for Japan,” in 2011, raising over $150,000 in 42 cities for earthquake victims and their families, as well as “Eating For Education,” a national campaign to support school gardens in every community. Samin teaches cooking classes at Bi-Rite Market and at Pizzaiolo, and blogs about her life and work at Ciao Samin. She is currently at work on her first book.

HAROLD MCGEE is a world-renowned authority on the chemistry of foods and cooking. He studied science and literature at Caltech and Yale, and has written two prize-winning books, On Food and Cooking and The Curious Cook, as well as many articles and reviews. Harold lectures widely on flavor, and has participated in studies and initiatives worldwide in the pursuit of better understanding the science of taste. Harold has taught at Harvard University in collaboration with Chef Ferran Adria of El Bulli, and authored a food column on science and cooking for the New York Times for five years. Harold is revered by chefs worldwide as the leading expert on the science and chemistry of food.


November 13: Michael Pollan

Food Movement Rising? Prop 37 and its Aftermath: Michael Pollan, Knight Professor of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley

MICHAEL POLLAN is the John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, and the director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism. For the past twenty-five years, he has written about the places where nature and culture intersect: on our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in the built environment. He is the author of four New York Times bestsellers: Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual (2010); In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (2008); The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006) and The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World (2001); and co-producer of the award winning documentary film, Food Inc. In 2010, Time Magazine named Pollan one of the world’s 100 most influential people. In 2009 he was named by Newsweek as one of the top 10 “New Thought Leaders.”



November 20: Nikki Henderson & Saru Jayaraman

Food, Race and Labor: Nikki Henderson, Executive Director, People’s Grocery

NIKKI HENDERSON began her work in social justice through the foster care system in Southern California, having been raised with seven older foster brothers. Through mentoring, tutoring, and directing Foster Youth Empowerment Workshops, she developed her passion for youth leadership development among communities of color. She later shifted into sustainability, developing course curriculum for the University of California system and advocating across the state for environmental justice and political ecology. Nikki has worked closely with Van Jones and Phaedra Ellis Lamkins at Green for All, fighting for a green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty. She was also a part of Slow Food USA in Brooklyn, NY. In 2009, Nikki co-founded Live Real, a national collaborative of food movement organizations committed to strengthening and expanding the youth food movement in the United States. Nikki holds a Master's degree in African American Studies from UCLA, and is originally from Los Angeles, CA.

SARU JAYARAMAN is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United) and Co-Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley. After 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded ROC in New York, which has organized restaurant workers to win workplace justice campaigns, conduct research and policy work, partner with responsible restaurants, and launch cooperatively-owned restaurants. ROC now has 10000 members in 19 cities nationwide. The story of Saru and her co-founder’s work founding ROC has been chronicled in the book The Accidental American. Ms. Jayaraman co-edited The New Urban Immigrant Workforce, (ME Sharpe, 2005). Saru is a graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was profiled in the New York Times “Public Lives” section in 2005, and was named one of Crain’s “40 Under 40” in 2008, 1010 Wins’ “Newsmaker of the Year,” and one of New York Magazine’s “Influentials” of New York City. She authored Behind the Kitchen Door, forthcoming from Cornell University Press.  



November 27: Alice Waters

Edible Education: Alice Waters, Author, Activist, Chef

ALICE WATERS, chef, author, and the proprietor of Chez Panisse, is an American pioneer of a culinary philosophy that maintains that cooking should be based on the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally. She is a passionate advocate for a food economy that is “good, clean, and fair.” Over the course of forty years, Chez Panisse has helped create a community of scores of local farmers and ranchers whose dedication to sustainable agriculture assures the restaurant a steady supply of fresh and pure ingredients. In 1996, Waters’s commitment to education led to the creation of the Edible Schoolyard at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School: a one-acre garden, an adjacent kitchen-classroom, and an “eco-gastronomic” curriculum. By actively involving a thousand students in all aspects of the food cycle, the Edible Schoolyard is a model public education program that instills the knowledge and values we need to build a humane and sustainable future. The program is nationally recognized for its efforts to integrate gardening, cooking, and sharing school lunch into the core academic curriculum. Alice established the Chez Panisse Foundation—now the Edible Schoolyard Project—in 1996 to support the Schoolyard and encourage similar programs that use food traditions to teach, nurture, and empower young people. Waters is Vice President of Slow Food International and she is the author of eight books, including The Art of Simple Food: Notes and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution.


December 4: Raj Patel

The Green Revolution: Raj Patel, Author, Activist, Economist

RAJ PATEL is an award-winning writer, activist, and academic. He has degrees from the University of Oxford, the London School of Economics, and Cornell University, has worked for the World Bank and WTO, and protested against them around the world. He’s currently a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for African Studies, an Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and a fellow at The Institute for Food and Development Policy, also known as Food First. He is currently an IATP Food and Community Fellow. He has testified about the causes of the global food crisis to the U.S. House Financial Services Committee and is an Advisor to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. In addition to numerous scholarly publications, he regularly writes for The Guardian, and has contributed to the LA Times, NYTimes.com, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Mail on Sunday, and The Observer. His first book was Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System and his latest, The Value of Nothing, is a New York Times best-seller.