Philosophy of Food Class Notes

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Reutrn to Philosophy of Food

JAN 19

Audio from class: [1]

  • Course Content: A brief look at the major course research questions.
  • Course mechanics:
  • Websites in this course. --> wiki and
  • Roster information -- fill in google form
  • Main Assignments and "Grading Schemes"
  • To Do list:
  • Send me a brief introduction through the "Tell Me" form on the wiki. (Soon, please.)
  • Login to wiki for the first time and make a brief introduction on the practice page. (3 points if both are done by Friday.)
  • After rosters are posted, login to courses.alfino and look around. Note "Links" for pdfs. Retrieve reading for Monday (and read it).
  • Browse wiki pages.
  • Get the book. Pollan, In Defense of Food
  • Start printing pdfs. Highly recommended.
  • The Prep Cycle -- recommendations for success in the course!
  1. Read - Follow "Focus" notes on Reading schedule. Be ready for quizes.
  2. Track study questions during and after class - use your note taking to express main ideas in your terms, link in-class notes to your reading notes. Remember, almost all assessments in the course are open book & open note.
  3. Class -- Our pattern is to consolidate our understanding of the reading and then engage in philosophy on the basis of it.
This is the basic pattern for our coursework. From this cycle we then develop short philosophical writing and position papers using instructor and peer review.

JAN 24

Audio from class: [2] [3]

Review of Three Food Documentaries

Philosophical Method

  • We'll use Cowspiracy today to illustrate this point about philosophical method:
Philosophers worry alot about the way a claim is stated. The strength of a claim is related to the sorts and amounts of evidence needed to support it. So if you state your claim (the conclusion of your "argument" broadly) too strongly you can have a bad argument even though a slightly weaker or more qualified version of the claim may be the best supported view.

Food Inc Notes

Fed Up!


Nestle, "Introduction: The Food Industry and 'Eat More,' from Food Politics"

Intro: "This book exposes the ways in which food companies use political ernment and professional support for the sale of their products."
  • we aren't critical of food industry -- assume they are interested in health.
  • mentions tobacco analogy
  • historic note: early 20th century still battled nutritional disease from inadequate calorie intake.
  • her professional experience (3) with editing Surgeon General's report: no "eat less meat" - Government gave up producing the report in 2000. Authoritative advice would have required some "eat less" messaging.
  • Side note: "New Dietary Guidelines Crack down on Sugar but red meat gets a pass," NPR Jan 7, 2016 [4]
  • her thesis: "that many of the nutritional problems of Americans—not least of them obesity—can be traced to the food industry's imperative to encourage people to eat more in order to generate sales and increase income in a highly competitive marketplace."
  • note her concise nutrition advice on p. 5ff.
  • 7ff: stats on diet and mortality, childhood obesity. Note that she does endorse "energy balance" as legitimate (more so than in Fed Up, but she would agree with their point)
  • 8ff: food production and consumption trends. more total daily calories, increased consumption of low fat foods, more restaurant food, where we are in relation to USDA advice. see p. 10. low variety of food in actual diets.
  • 11: dimensions and trends in food industry and international - European diets are approximating US diet in calories from fat. "nutrition transition" idea that as cultures move from primary healthy diets to industrial diets they ironically seek more calories and want cheap calories. US less than 10% of income on food (see wiki links for more)
  • Some food economics: percent of food value from farming across food types. Advertising spending on industrial food, using philanthropy for branding, new food products (25)

JAN 26

Pollan, In Defense of Food, first 4 chapters of Part 1

  • background on previous work and personal food history.
  • 5: example of failure of advice on fat and cancer, coronary heart disease. Failure of claims about fiber not reducing cancer risk., also on value of fish.
  • best to understand confusion on nutrition as result of interaction of food industry, gov't and journalism.
  • claim for Part One: most of the nutritional advice of the last 50 years has made us less healthy.
  • surprising claim: It's a dangerous idea to think that food is just about health. orthorexics.
  • 10: at. Four of the top ten causes of death today are chronic diseases with well-estabUshed links to diet: coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. Even after adjusting for longevity.
  • goal: advice for enjoying food.
  • Chapter 1 - From Foods to Nutrients
  • food disappearing in favor of "nutrients" - a kind of reductionism.
  • William Prout, early 19th division of macronutrients into Protein, Carb, and Fat. Justus von Leibig, also studied soil, imp. or minerals.
  • 1912: Casimir Funk, "vitamines" - goes back to "vitalism", also "amines" because nitrogen based.
  • part of the story starts in 1977, with the first Fed comm on nutrition. blow back on recommendations 23. This led to a strategy of not referring to foods directly in terms of "more or less" but nutrients.
  • also from 1950's "lipid hypothesis" - that fats from meat and dairy were responsible for much dietary disease.
  • Chapter 2 - Nutritionism Defined
  • Gyorgy Scrinis -- 2002 claim.
  • Nutritionism puts the scientists in charge. leads to thinking about foods as "good" or "bad" based on their nutrients. you find this in the history of nutrition. 29ff. Liebig made "protein" a master nutrient. Others, like Kellog and Fletcher, would promote carbs. Good place to see limits of nutritionism is in baby formula. Still no match for the real thing.
  • Chapter 3 - Nutritionism comes to Market
  • nutritionism works well with marketing of food. margarine, for example. starts as cheap fat, but then marketed as healthier. industrial foods can be redesigned as nutrition fads change.
  • early history of food adulteration. Sinclair's The Jungle, 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Objections to "imitation" rule. (note other controversies: milk, real). Thrown out in 1973. If an imitation food is nutritionally similar to the food it imitates, it doesn't need to be called imitation. Opened the door to lots of chemical substitutes.
  • Chapter 4 - Food Science's Golden Age
  • diet fads tend to favor foods that can be reengineered. Some of that can be done with animals by feeding them differently, but mostly this favors industrial food over whole foods.

Montanari, "Food is Culture"

  • Creating One's Own Food
  • q. 3: roughly, now that we're in a postindustrial age, we look at agriculture as "natural" and traditional, but from the perspective of those adopting, it wasn't. - but they experienced ag as a break from nature. against nature, but also a breakthrough and innovation. ...gave us power to rule nature (later ideas about space and time).
  • demography of agriculture is amazing.dates for ag in diff regions (5), "invention of agriculture...matter of necessity tied to population growth"
  • cites Franz Braudel, who made a version of this thesis. Agriculture organized everything (roughly). see list. economy, religion (make side point about warrior / ag gods). Civitas and civilitas depend upon agriculutre!
  • Bread, breadeaters, marks break from nature. Bread is an invention from nature (sidepoint: can sustain life, man can live on bread alone, it just isn't pretty.). Interesting reference to mythology of bread and woman in Epic of Gilgamesh (short term research oppportunity).
  • Fermented drinks - like bread, break from nature.
  • germ idea about culture: culture is produced where tradition and innovation intersect
  • Even Nature is Culture -
  • two oppositions: 1. ag and hunt/gather goes through plant and animal kingdom. but 2. sedentary/nomad favors plant over animal (in fields vs. forest opposition, plants are identified with culture, hunting with nature)
  • gods/myths of agricultural societies: stories of Persephone, rice in asian narratives, corn in Mayan legend. hunting practices treating bones of animal as sacred, basis for rebirth. Germans have their grand Miale!
  • thesis: opposition between nature and culture somewhat fictitious. something like: civilized man uses nature (food structured) in the primary myths to separate him/herself from nature.
  • p. 11: difference btween Greco-Roman and German food systems. Germ of European food system in the clash between these cultures (note that Romans saw German meat culture as barbaric. Romans would have eaten meat, but not as primary food (note, later, Christian calendars with meatless and fasting days). Christianity coming from Med culture, has bread and wine as liturgical symbols. Unification of these cultures produces European food culture, balancing bread and meat. Implications for gastronomy.
  • Playing with Time
  • no seasons in Eden or Land of Cockainge.
  • Food culture developed by prolonging and stopping time, through species variation and food storage. examples 14-15. "man made putrefaction a means to a useful end" cheese, cured meats.
  • Playing with Space
  • goal of transcending spatial limits to food, transpo. Nice story from the Mantuan court of Gonzaga. "good horse and a full purse". involves concept of "terroir".
  • Conflicts
  • food systems are not nec. harmonious (esp. given what is at stake in a food insecure world). Medieval system was a class based system of control of food production. Peasant rebellions over restricing forest access. Robin Hood. famine image: scene of farmers at the city gate starving. conflicts between lords also about food, cities taxed area villages in food. Irish food famine of 1846 due to English control of food. (can't live on potatoes).
  • examples of movements of food in global trades cultures. For Columbus ( int. term "Columbian exchange") and age of conquest, exploitation was avowed purpose.

JAN 31

Audio from class: [5]

Montanari, "Food is Culture" "Fire > Cooking > Kitchen > Cusine > Civilization

Fire > Cooking > Kitchen > Cuisine > Civilization

  • cooking essential to human being. (note other resources) . Western story of Prometheus (30), the hearth identifies human being (abode).
  • Not true that cuisine is only about cooking. raw food methods. Chinese critic of western gastronomy as based too much on cooking. meanings of "Cucina". transition from womens' domain to men's.

Pollan, In Defense of Food, part two of section one

  • Chapter 5 - The Melting of the Lipid Hypothesis
  • 30 years of bad advice about fats. cites an example of a scientific "retraction" of the lipid hypothesis. 43. transfats are apparently dangerous, but they had been encouraged early by advocates of lipophobia. ratio between types of fats matters. (mention "The Queen of Fats" O3/O6 fats) low fat diets are not associated with weight loss either. replacing fats with carbs might lead to weight gain.
  • science journalist Gary Taubes credited with exposing lipid hypothesis, especially in Good Calories, Bad Calorie.
  • scientist sought to confirm the lipid hypthesis in the 50s by looking at diets that are low in fat among people who do not suffer CHD. But that's pretty selective. Such diets may also be moderate in calories or combine other foods that offer protections.
  • there are correlations between high cholesterol and CHD and between diet and chol levels, but not clear that's a complete causal relationship.
  • Chapter 6 - Eat Right, Get Fatter
  • so we did eat more low fat foods, but we got fatter. we reduce the % of fat by eating more non-fat calories. (hence the importance of the "eat more / eat less" impass in food politics)
  • Pollan argues that nutritionism is partly to blame. Fat became a "bad" nutrient and since the dietary guidelines couldn't tell people to eat "less" of anything, it told people to eat more "low-fat" and non-saturated fats.
  • Nutritionism solves the problem of the "fixed stomach" only so much food is needed.
  • Chapter 7 - Beyond the Pleasure Principle
  • cites research on American food culture suggesting that we are more focused on abundance of calories that savoring.. haute cuisine is often looked upon as effete. Food Puritanism. (linking nutritionism to our susceptibility to follow nutritional and to our culture).
  • story of Kellog and Fletcher -- protein was the bad nutrient.
  • yogurt enemas, chewing songs,
  • Kellogg: "The decline of a nation commences when gourmandizing begins."
  • scientific food culture in the US might also have been appealing as part of the process of assimilation. Nutrient based diets are culture neutral.
  • See below for group discussion exercise we'll do about here.
  • Chapter 8 - The Proof is in the low-fat pudding
  • carbs may have made us fat by distorting our insulin responses and leaving us hungrier. (Note the importance of "satisfaction" here.)
  • we have reduced mortality from heart disease, but it's not clear that underlying rates of CHD have dropped. smoking reduction also contributes.
  • Chapter 9 - Bad Science.
  • claims that nutrition science is hard because nutrient by nutrient analysis is practical, but simplifies the interactions of actual metabolism. Different individuals and populations metabolize differently. Your microbiome affect nutrient absorbtion and production as well.
  • example: some whole foods diets have been correlated with cancer avoidance, but it doesn't follow that there is a single nutrient or class of nutrients that does that. Speculation about anti-oxidants, vit E beta-caroteme, ...etc. But then some evidence that beta-carotene alone can increase cancer risk.
  • example of chemicals in thyme.
  • sometimes science is limited by only being able to study chemicals it has the tools to measure. This was true of cholesterol at one point. 66
  • examples of effects from combinations of foods: carbohydrates in a bagel will be absorbed more slowly if the bagel is spread with peanut butter; Drink coffee with your steak and your body won't be able to fully absorb the iron in the meat. The olive oil with which I eat tomatoes makes the lycopene they contain more available to my body.
  • hard to know if disease is caused by too much of a bad thing or too little of a good thing. a meat diet may be harmful intrinsically (as in the China Study hypothesis) or because it crowds out fruits and veg, which might have offset the risk factors of the animal protein.
  • problem of context - lifestyles connected to food may be relevant -- Med diet based on mid-20th Crete islanders. Veganism studied among 7th day adventists. "confounding effects"
  • long term observational study in "Nurses' Health Study -- problem -- everyone's eating roughly the Western diet, so hard to detect improvements.
  • large scale intervention study. Womens' Health Initiative. seemed to show that low fat diet didn't help, but hard to tell. manipulating a single factor isn't very precise in this case. (kind of an example of nutritionism in research design). food-frequency questionaires. issues with.
  • Chapter 10 Nutritionism's children -- our general confusion about foods as a result of generation of nutritionism.

(Note: the best data on the western diet might be the epidemiological, the natural experiment that is the Western Diet)

Group Discussion: Noticing your food culture

  • When did you first become aware of your food culture? Was it in a difference between your family food culture or food culture of origin and the larger society as you were growing up? Was it from travelling? Was it last week? In a small group discussion, try to use your personal experience to amplify the "food culture" notes from Pollan Chapter 7. You may also want to use Gopnik's personal story HoJos and Parisian restaurants as an example.

Gopnik, Adam, "Who Made the Restaurant?" (13-32)

  • from The Table Comes First

Gopnik, "Who Made the Restaurant?"

  • opening description - follow -- illusion of dining room, relation to romance, difference from previous types: table d'hote, traiteur,
  • personal experiences -- HoJo to Paris - Grand Vefour -- restaurants and writers' scenes.
  • 19: account of origin of restaurant starts here:
  • old story - post french revolution, displaced help from nobles. But restaurant starts 20 years earlier. Restaurant not like home service.
  • three factors: intellectual causes (health and simplicity), commercial causes (new site for restaurants in/around Palais Royal), moral/social cause (breakdown of caste/class leading up to Rev)
  • Mathrurin Roze de Chantoiseau -- first restauranteur. note root meanings of "restaurant" - associated with bullion and restoratives. Early restaurant served healthy foods that you couldn't source (22), not esoteric or exotic. Chantoiseau introduced more of a pleasure motive to the restaurant.
  • commercial scene of the Palais Royal -- first mall. 27: 1780-1830 -- period of growth of restaurants - reflected some international ethnic cusine, but points out that the southern provinces of France would seem as exotic to Parisians and North African cuisine might seem to us. "Provencal" --
  • adopted Russian services (sequence of courses, dishes chosen by each diner) rather than French banquet service (piles of dishes on a sideboard from which waiters serve) (consider the individualism in this)
  • compares the emergence of the restaurant to the newer cafe, which did come into being by post-revolution licensing law changes allowing coffee/alcohol in same place. 33-37, importance of.
  • brings in Bourdieu and Priscilla Park Ferguson -- "social field" , like a "scene" (examples of "gastronomic scenes" -- craft beer, local roasted coffee....) features of a food scene: writing, end of famine, enjoyment of food not seen as a sin, but mark of cultivation.
  • Brilla-Savarin, 1825 Physiology of Taste. introduces word "gastronomy" 42ff. defines the "gourmand" in terms of enthusiasm about one's appetite and taste for food.
  • rival, Grimod La Reyniere -- real foodie, spent the revolution eating great food, somewhat abstracted. rated restaurants and gave them stickers for their windows.
  • 54: Habermas' theory about "Enlightenment eating" -- creates social capital


Audio from class: [6] [7]

  • detail from NYer article, "The Illusion of Taste"
  • "Over the next few weeks, Spence invited twenty research subjects to his basement lab and sat them in front of a microphone in a soundproof booth. There they were handed a pair of headphones and instructed to bite, one by one, into nearly two hundred Pringles original-flavor chips. After a single crunch, each subject spat out the chip and gave it a rating: crisper or less crisp, fresh or less fresh. The subjects could hear each crunch as it looped from the mike into the headphones. But, without letting the participants know, Spence funnelled the crunching noises through an amplifier and an equalizer, allowing him to boost or muffle particular frequencies or the over-all volume. About an hour later, released from the booth, each subject was asked whether he or she thought all the chips were the same."
  • "Along the way, Spence has found that a strawberry-flavored mousse tastes ten per cent sweeter when served from a white container rather than a black one; that coffee tastes nearly twice as intense but only two-thirds as sweet when it is drunk from a white mug rather than a clear glass one; that adding two and a half ounces to the weight of a plastic yogurt container makes the yogurt seem about twenty-five per cent more filling, and that bittersweet toffee tastes ten per cent more bitter if it is eaten while you’re listening to low-pitched music. This year alone, Spence has submitted papers showing that a cookie seems harder and crunchier when served from a surface that has been sandpapered to a rough finish, and that Colombian and British shoppers are twice as willing to choose a juice whose label features a concave, smile-like line rather than a convex, frown-like one."

Gopnik, Adam, "Who Made the Restaurant?" (32-57)

  • compares the emergence of the restaurant to the newer cafe, which did come into being by post-revolution licensing law changes allowing coffee/alcohol in same place. 33-37, importance of.
  • brings in Bourdieu and Priscilla Park Ferguson -- "social field" , like a "scene" (examples of "gastronomic scenes" -- craft beer, local roasted coffee....) features of a food scene: writing, end of famine, enjoyment of food not seen as a sin, but mark of cultivation.
  • Brillat-Savarin, 1825 Physiology of Taste. introduces word "gastronomy" 42ff. defines the "gourmand" in terms of enthusiasm about one's appetite and taste for food.
  • rival, Grimod La Reyniere -- real foodie, spent the revolution eating great food, somewhat abstracted. rated restaurants and gave them stickers for their windows.
  • 54: Habermas' theory about "Enlightenment eating" -- creates social capital

Small group discussion: Applying "field" and "habitus" to US Food Culture

Now that you have a sense of the social field of the origin of the modern restaurant, try to give a parallel analysis of the "scence" that characterizes "US public eating". How does the experience of the restaurant, for example, reflect the "habitus" of US culture (compare to other cultures if possible)? How did you experience public eating in your childhood and early adulthood? Or, how do we use public eating to reinforce identity and class? Try to distinguish "generations" of US restaurant culture. What are some of the new trends in US restaurant culture?

Singer & Mason, Chapter 18, "What Should We Eat?"

  • Some principles: transparency, fairness (reflect costs and sustainable), Humanity (avoid unnecessary suffering), social responsibility, needs
  • factory farming -- issues for chickens, turkeys, eggs, veal, pig, dairy cows, beef.
  • fish -- wild catch & sustainability
  • "organic" -- typical meanings related to values: health & environment. Limits to "organic" label. Two approaches: organic if x, y, z not done. organic if natural conditions maximizes: soil quality, plant nutrients and flavor, animal feed and behaviors.
  • local food -- also environmental, but sometimes not the lowest carbon impact. some distant food production helps people in absolute poverty. mention urban intensive farm movements.
  • fair trade
  • further issues: dairy and egg layers still involved killing of male layers and male calves (though I hear there is now technology to avoid getting male layers. Does that makes it better?).
  • vegans diets are more sustainable, though there are counter views to this. significant areas of the diet comes with supplement recommendations. supplements can be organic and vegan.
  • (Interesting that there is no discussion of industrial processed food. Could view industrial food products generally as high carbon foot print adulterated foods.)


Audio from class: [8] [9]

Pollan, Part II of In Defense of Food

  • Part II : Western Diet and diseases of civilization
  • Chapters 1 and 2
  • Summer 1982 - W. Australia aborigines study -- "metabolic syndrome" -- defined, theorized as signiture disease of western diet.
  • O'Dea's results p. 87. Note that she didn't look for a silver bullet, a single factor. Just the diet change.
  • Major premise: Compare us to many traditional diet populations and the difference in diseases profile is stark. It might be the "whole diet pattern" rather than a single imbalance. (The imbalances are symptoms.)
  • Group of early 20th c intellectuals (bot 90) noticed absence of chronic disease in populations they travelled to. Pollan chooses the story of Weston Price from this group.
  • Two objections to hyp that Western diet is to blame: disease/race theory, demographic theory (live longer). In both cases, the evidence refutes the claim.
  • Weston Price -- b. 1870. diseases of teeth are effects of Western diet. 1939 major work after global travels looking at teeth. Lots and lots of teeth. kind of an amateur scientists, but collected important data (and seen right by later dental research). hard to find control groups. Price found big differences in Vit A and D. (Note comment about Masai -- . Multiple successful diets for omnivores.) pl 98: note comparison of groups with wild animal flesh and agriculturalists. made comparisons of grass fed / winter forage fed animals to find vitamin differences.
  • Albert Howard -- similar time period, making argument against synthetic nitrogen (more later). both pioneers in what would later be seen as an ecological approach to food production.
  • Chapter 3
  • thesis: Calling for a more ecological way of thinking about food. think of food as mutual adaptation of plants and animals to humans. propagation/place in ecology of food chain. example of fruit: ripeness, transportation, high nutrient state. Corn vs. corn syrup. (Note point about possible future humans who could use HFCS. also true of milk in history of agriculture. Pollan doesn't quite give the details on milk. not like a light switching on. Textbook example of gene-culture co-evolution. Selective advantage for those who keep lactase expression going past breast feeding. You can always leave it to natural selection to favor those who can get on with the new diet.)
  • Types of Changes that mark the Western Industrial Diet
  • 1. From Whole Foods to Refined
  • prestige of refined products: prior to roller technology, white rice and flour would be labor added, story of grain rollers 107, Refined flour is the first industrial fast food. Fresh flour lasts days. 108: specific details germ/endosperm, but also local mills, water power, (again, conquering space and time, as Montanari would say). Fortified bread.
  • Jacobs and Stefffen study: epidemiological study showing effects of whole grains, but also that groups not eating whole grains, but getting equivalent nutrients did not enjoy benefits. alludes to possible wholism in effects. Sugar intake since 1870's.
  • 2. From Complexity to Simplicity
  • The flip side of food degradation is soil degradation. nitrogen fertilizers. simplification through chemical processing. control. simplification of species diversity and monoculture of ag. corn and soy are very efficient producers of carb calories. but then we draw less food diversity by focusing on these two.
  • 3. Quality to Quantity
  • decline in nutrient content (needs more research), interest in "phytochemicals" -- seem related to anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • decline in food nutrient content from food grown in impoverished soil. Calls the result "nutritional inflation" because you have to get greater volumes of food to get your nutrition. some details on how soils matter: growing time affects mineral and vitamin levels. some evidence that organic plants have chemicals related to immune responses.
  • cites Bruce Ames, serious researcher interest in micronutrition and cancer.
  • 4. Leaves to Seeds
  • shift from leaves to seeds decreases anti-oxidants and phytonutrients in our diet. seeds tilt in their fat profile toward O6. less healthy fat. O3 fats spoil faster, so tend to be removed from industrial food. nutritional advice to move toward seed oils didn't originally distinguish O3 from O6. Claims that the shift to seed oils helps example the change in ratio of O6/O3 from 3:1 to 10:1. note the connection p. 129 between fat profile and sense of "food security" -- interesting digression here. Could we have a deep fear of hunger that still leads us to choose overeating, especially of caloric foods?
  • O3 decline also related to mental health. 130
  • 5. From Food Culture to Food Science
  • shift from reliance on national / ethnic food cultures to science. (digress on how national food cultures are often defined by major cookbooks).

Nestle, Chapter 1, "From Eat More to Eat Less"

  • this reading gives more detail to the argument as summarized in the Intro.
  • early history of USDA survey of food supply and consumption, 1909. (interesting to note that early studies in the 1890s predate knowledge of vitamins and dietary causes of onditions like beriberi, pellagra, and scurvy.
  • "food groups" approach since early 20th century. War food policy, post-war "food for freedom" promotes sugar and candy. "eat more". Even in 1950's people weren't hitting RDAs in some areas. response of US gov't "eat more". 1960s war on poverty also reinforced "eat more" (recall %33 poverty rate).
  • McGovern committe is the pivot point on "eat more" "eat less". Ancel Keys, explaining increase in heart disease since war, uses comparative data on food cultures with plant based diets. Hits on lipid hypothesis. reduce calories from fat. go low fat.
  • details from the infamous 1977 hearings, p. 40-41. replaced "reduce consumption of meat" with "choose meats, ....which will reduce saturate fat intake."
  • 43: Surgeon General's contribution -- 1979 first attention to processed foods nutritional value, publication Healthy Peoplerecommended less red meat (last time Fed Gov't would do that). Instead, switch to lean meats.
  • back to USDA guidelines: 1985, first mention of maintaining ideal weight. "avoid too much" instead of "eat less". 49: consensus among nutrtitionists in late 1980s. Series of authoritative reports against high fat meat. consensus on limits of calories from fats, salt. consensus on need to restrict overall calorie intake as well.
  • note last page summary: transition in 1980s of not resisting the consensus from the nutritional community, but using it to market nutrients. This coincides with the thesis of "nutritionism".


Pollan, In Defense of Food, Part 3

  • Chapter 1
  • concedes need to use science in spite of some ideology in nutrition science (nutrient fads, for example); big evidence about Western Diet is still epidemiological.
  • hard to avoid industrial food if meat is raised on a Western diet (but not impossible. What does a whole food diet cost?)
  • "eating algorithms" - interesting concept. rules of thumb for choosing food.
  • Chapter 2: Eat Food
  • Use grandma's standard; if it can't rot, it's not food. Ingredients; products with health claims; stay on the edges of the supermarket, avoid the commercial supermarket... (easier to just eliminate most processed foods)
  • Chapter 3: Mostly Plants
  • leafy plants especially (current guidelines distinguish types of plants by color and starch). Gives the anti-oxidant theory (which seems to be holding up well)
  • try not to isolate the seed from the plant. (Kind of like isolating the juice from the fruit.) Eat the whole thing.
  • "You are what you eat eats too" - you can't have healthy animal food if you feed the animals a Western Diet. (disgress on Andrew Smith argument -- can't be vegetarian). Attention to soil.
  • Pro: wild food, supplements, traditional cuisines (typically nutrient dense and balanced), scepticism about new foods, don't look for "magic" diets, enjoy food.

Nestle, "Chapter 2: Politics Versus Science -- opposing the food pyramind, 1991-1992"

  • Tells the story of the blocked printing of the 1991 Eating Right Pyramid. She highlights the USDA mandate after 1977 to produce nutrition information, the tension between that agency and then "HEW" (health education and welfare), (now DHHS) where the Surgeon General was.
  • p. 55. Specific design process for the pyramid. Compare other countries approaches. [10]. Compare to current US Dietary Guidelines for 2015-2020. [11]
  • the controversy over the pyramid was mostly about the diminished size of the meat group and it's proximity to the sugar, fats, and oils. If you look at the previous chapter's image of the "Basic Four" design, meat and dairy were "in front" and "on top" of the image. The ensuing controversy had partly to do with gov't officials dodging responsibility for the nutritionists work.

FEB 14

Audio from class: [12] [13]

Food News: bread crumbs.

Food pyramids and representing diets

  • consider old food pyramid, problems. new food pyramid and "Choose My Plate" [14]

Pollan, Part 3, Chapter 4: How to Eat

  • European food culture: behaviors -
  • Pay More, Eat Less - not just trade offs, but actually asserting control of amounts.
  • Eat Meals
  • Some things to add to Pollan's list:
  • make ingredient "trade-ups" - fresh bread for factory,
  • some mindful eating concepts: preparing to make food, attending to making food, savoring food. Attend to the eating space, light candle, use a place mat, allow some ceremony, consider gratitude/food as grace. Make eating sacred. Eat like your life depends on it.
  • Small Group: Which of Pollan's eating algorithms have you tried? which seem most plausible to follow? which seem less important? which seem invalid or questionable?

Zepeda, Lydia, "Carving Values with a Spoon"

  • How do you assess responsibility? individual vs. food industry. Her thesis: context affects choice.
  • Values of US food context: lots of cheap calories, low % of spending on food, little concern about conditions of production.
  • some stats: food away from home up to 42% of food expenditures. 2004.
  • national policy and cultural values influence by pioneer experience, which often involved food insecurity and starvation. (Mention 1493- Thanksgiving story). Also might explain bias toward storable foods.
  • postwar food culture characterized by industrial versions of pre-war diet. frozen dinners, more desserts, bigger serving sizes tracked increases in wealth.
  • industrial deskilling -- "end of cooking"; labor participation from women increases.
  • 1990s-2000s -- note p. 39. Interesting claim: we don't want real cuisine, but a branded version of it we can trust.
  • 30 minutes a day on food prep and clean up. Simple Diet: 70-90 minutes.
  • wages in the food and restaurant industry are among the lowest.

FEB 16

Audio from class: [15]

Montgomery, Chapters 2 and 3, "Dirt"

  • Chapter 2
  • Darwin's studies of worms. Worms are moving a heck of a lot of dirt.
  • Note the recentness of our lack of knowledge of this. Also why antiquities sink.
  • isostasy
  • also noticing at this time hillside erosion.
  • nitrogen fixation
  • major point: the processes governing soils determine the possibility of plant and animal life.
  • major point: we should be looking for a balance between processes that create soil and the processes (like agriculture) which can erode it.
  • you are what you eat. you are what you eat eats.
  • Chapter 3
  • connection between humanity and soil in language: adama (earth) hava (living). We are living earth. In Latin "homo" from "humus", living soil.
  • short digression on "food ontology" -- some candidate answers, but then if we take the linguistic associations literally, how would we define food?
  • suggest myth of the garden represents transition to agriculture.
  • 20,000 years ago - last major glaciation (though not a single event). Europe freezes, Africa dries.
  • 2 million years ago - earliest evidence of migration of homo erectus from Africa. separation from Neanderthal (note evidence that we ate 'em),
  • 300,000 year ago - first modern humans.
  • 45,000 years ago - another wave of migration from Africa (movement occurred in both directions).
  • 30,000 years ago - sharp stone tools (much later than the handaxe .5 mya) and at 23,000 yrs bows and arrows
  • modifications in skin color and other features a response to UV radiation and Vitamin D production, selection effect.
  • emergence of agriculture
  • oasis and cultural evolution theories. p 30 - problem wit oasis theory - food variety in mid-east expanding at time of agriculture.
  • increasing population density -- agriculture a forced option. Note climate of the Levant 13 - 11,000bc - major food abundance. could have supported population explosion.
  • mini-glaciation at 10,000 bc called the Younger Dryas -- recovered pollen samples drop by 3/4 -- decrease precip. forests recede.
  • site evidence from Abu Hureyra, on Tigris -- evidence of cultivation of grains, drought tolerant ones, for example.
  • more work to produce a calorie at start of agriculture --(digress on Ian Morris). population grew to six thousand. evidence of settlements chose for ag condition.
  • note -- using evidence from burnt food remains, we can track the migration of food, independently of human migration.
  • the dog -- 20,000 not food. possible self-domestication of cats. times for domesticate livestock. animal labor.
  • after agriculture, population doubles every 1,000 years.
  • by 5,000 bc, evidence of overcultivation in Tigris valley, hillside erosion. emergence of irrigation.
  • very interesting: Mesopotamian religious elite controlled food production and distribution. (Later we'll see that Jewish authorities do the same in the Levant). population growth. Uruk grows to 50,000. agruculture bring property, inequality (vs. hunter gatherers -- Morris), class, gov't administration, (philosophers). Writing 3,000 bc - (mention Field Museum in Chicago).
  • back to the environment -- irrigation led to salination of the soil, silting of rivers -- 39-40 evidence of lack of understanding of soil.
  • story in Egypt - p. 40 on: short story, the Nile fed civilizations for 7,000 years in rough sustainability, ideal combination of new silt and humus. Harvests increase over time. But, desire to grow grain for export led to year round irriation. 1880's salination extreme. Then Nasser damn.
  • story in China - interesting, administration of ag recognized many grades of soil. Yellow River (name from mineral erosion upstream) damned and diverted starting 340 bc. Process of raising levees around the river led to 30 foot levies by 1920s. 19th century flood killed millions.
  • story of Walter Lowdermilk -- 1922 - working in China on famine prevention. First to write about soil management and civilization. Follows major river up stream documenting 400 miles of levies and evidence of ancient mismanagement of early ag sites.
  • thesis going forward: Civilizations are defined by their management of soil.

FEB 21

Audio from class: [16] [17]

Designing a Diet

  • Odd to be designing a diet, given historical patterns, but now starting to question the sustainability of the historical pattern and there has been a disruption in contemporary food behavior.
  • Principles:
  • Nutrition/Satisfaction/Practicality. add some detail to each
  • Start with parameters and constraints. What are the current or best components of your diet?
  • Following general eating algorithms for a plant based diet (note: we will add more technical requirement in light of our study of nutrition.)
  • Strategy: Focus on meals (and small plates) rather than single foods. Notice commitments. Look for "trade-ups".
  • Example: 100 grams lentils vs. 100 grams (almost 1/4 pd) - point isn't to demonize specific foods. Rather, how do different natural foods contribute to meal combinations.
  • Some subjective parameters: (brief small group work)
  • Most satisfying meal - How do you describe the satisfactions of your favorite meals?
  • Predicted need for variety (which affects practicality). How many different breakfasts, lunches, and dinners do you need to have?

Montgomery, Chapter 4, "Graveyards of Empires"

  • Thesis: Soil degradation doesn't directly cause declines in civilization, but makes civilizations more vulnerable to politics and weather.
  • Tikal (Guatamala) - Meso-American (Mayan, in this case) civilization reclaimed by the jungle. 1840s re-discovery. (returns to this at the end).
  • Ancient Greece
  • As land degraded, needed more slaves to feed owners. Sporadic use of fertilizers. Hills around Athens bare by 570 BC (before Plato).
  • Evidence of knowledge of erosion (from hillsides) as public policy, but failure to address it.
  • By time of Peloponnesian War (431-404), Egypt & Sicilian provide 1/3 to 3/4 of food to Greece. (In news this am, Yemen imports 80% of food.)
  • (Comments by Plato and Aristotle on soil degradation.)
  • Greeks repeat pattern of Mesopotamia -- intensified cultivation as population grows. Plow a significant step.
  • Evidence of movement from small diversified farming to large plantations with fewer crops.
  • We associate Greece with olive trees and grapes, but that's partly because they do well in the thin rocky soil left from millennia of soil erosion.
  • Rome
  • 146bc, conquest of Corinth, incorporate of Greece into Empire
  • Research of Vita-Finzi, mid-60s: Was soil erosion (in Libya) from climate change or mismanagement? Found two major periods of hillside erosion: one ancient,attributable to climate, the other dated to late Roman era. Climate also involved when you mismanage soil because land is more vulnerable to climate variation.
  • Population of Italian pennisula with humans and animals --- roughly 5,000 to 4,000 bc.
  • Significance of Bronze Age (2,000bc to 800bc) and Iron Age (500 bc on): depth of plowing and deforestation.
  • 500bc -- highpoint of productivity - 1-5 acres / family. "farmers" had social status.
  • Erosion in south (Campagna) also produced malaria from pooling of water on eroded land.
  • Cato's De Agri Cultura - p.59 Of "Carthage must be destroyed" fame. Roman model become colonial system of agriculture around N. Africa and Sicily. Pliny the Elder (23-79ad)
  • Like Greece, Romans in Empire Period relied heavily on slaves to feed them.
  • Difference in Roman case: extensive knowledge of hubandry. 1960s studies of erosion around Rome: 1" a year.
  • substory: emergence of the latifundia system of agriculture in 2nd cent bc due, in part to post-war availability of cheap land, lots of slaves. 63
  • by 300 ad, productivity of central Italy dramatically declined.
  • Empire needed to annex parts of N. Africa to secure food. Mid-80s UNESCO research moved us away from climate explanation for decline.
  • 30bc - Egypt becomes a colonial food source.
  • story of 19th American, Geroge Perkins March, research in Italy on soil erosion. early hypothesis of Roman land misuse. land doesn't always recover.
  • North Africa - Mideast
  • Lowdermilk in Tunisia, Algieria. Then on to Levant. Lebanon and Israel.
  • Back to Tikal and the Mayan case
  • Maize domestication about 2000bc. greatest erosion around 600-900ad, along with evidence steep population decline. from 1million in 3rd c. ad. to 1/2 that 200 years later.
  • mechanisms: slash and burn agriculture. feritlity declines. but worked at low population levels.
  • lots of studies of silting and erosion. p. 75ff.

  • General points:
  • Soil degradation characteristic of major civilizations.
  • Reflected in commitments to slavery, expansion, and exploitation.
  • Happens regardless of knowledge of good practices.
  • Often in connection with development of a food export industry.
  • Civilization which left records often assigned blame to climate change, disappearance of water sources. (Remarkable exceptions include famous intellectuals like Pliny the Elder, Tertulian, Plato, Aristotle.)

FEB 23

Audio from class: [18] [19]

Notes on Diet Design

  • Comparing two starting points for a daily diet
  • All roads lead to soil

Montgomery, Chapter 8: Dirty Business

  • Tsangpo River culture in Tibet, exception to soil erosion story. silt and soil cared for, but also animals fertilize fields.
  • History of cultivation in China, emergence of wetland rice production (patties allow for nitrogen fixing algae), early 20th cent. 70-80 percent of income on food. 199-2003 crop yields down 10%
  • discoveries of nitrogen and phosphorous (late 18th cent.), (note Justus von Liebig, claim that form of soil ammedment doesn't matter), early fertilizer factory, 1843, using sulfuric acid on phosphate to make it available to plants -1843 John Lawes.
  • 1838: discovery of nitrogen fixing plants, but not till 1888 do we get the microbial mechanism. Guano deposits, phosphate mining, Franklin Pierce 1856 Guano Island Act (pretty extraordinary - allowed US citizens to claim guano islands). set off a kind of "gold rush" over guano. Rape of Nauru.
  • Pre-civil war Mississippi state geologist Hilgard and mid-19th soil science. Understood importance of manure and replenishing minerals. Goes to California to figure out problem of alkaline soils. Salt leeching from rock. "N's rport laid out the basic idea that the physical nad chemical character of soils reflect ... regional climate and vegetation. Disputes between Whitney, east coast, who thought moisture and texture alone explained soil fertility. Infamous proclamation at 1901 head of USDA: soil is inexhaustible. King fired by Whitney for agreeing with Hilgard.
  • Story of industrial nitrogen: bombs and fertilzer: 196:German nitro technology. Fritz Haber. Haber-Bosch process. post ww2 nitrogen production, further separated animal ag from plant ag.
  • Green Revolution -- high-yield strains for wheat and rice, combined with nitrogen fert. 1970 Nobel Prize to Norman Borlaug. top of 198 - probs with Green Revolution. By 1980s population growth consumed crop yield growth. Mention Songhai Center. Oil dependence: ag used 30% of petroleum production.
  • Can organic farming match yields from nitrogen/oil farming? Pennsylvania study at p. 201.
  • Modern Organic Movement: starts with 1930s Sir Albert Howard and Edward Faulkner. animal waste crucial. early composter advocates, early warning on synth nitrogen. Faulkner argued against ploughing. "alt-Ag" Wes Jackson, Land Institute, Salinas KS. Check them out. Still working on a no plough wheat. "natural systems agriculture" (also compatible with "permaculture")
  • 207: Barry Commoner, Center for Biology of Natural Systems at Wash U. study claiming organic farms produce similar yields as industrial methods. Others claims within 2%. Mid- 80s research by John Reganold [20] on two farms near Spokane, check out his Ted talk [21]
  • 208-209: more comparative research on organic/commerical ag. Farm subsidies and effect on farm size/corporate farming.
  • 211 on: update on no-till and conservation tilling. catching on. Food Security Acts of 1985 and 1990 mandate conservation plans for farms. soil erosion contributes directly to climate change - oxidation of organic material releases CO2. Soil conservation sequesters co2.
  • story of Quincy, WA. Cenex toxic fertilizer scandal.

  • (This account could easily incorporate the stories of the Montana farmers in the gripping "Lentil Underground" -- a good book group book.)

Montgomery, Chapter 10: Life Span of Civilizations

  • Framing the soil / civilization argument in broadest terms:
  • estimates of the carrying capacity of the earth: Catholic Bishops say 40 billion (is that true?!). Might get to 15 billion "if we share the planet with nothing else" some biologists think we are over the limit. Engels: land infinitely productive. Capitalists same. General endorsement of effective of markets, but point out that resource depletion is not adequate theorize or accounted for in practice.
  • Lifespan of civilization measurable in relation bt initial soil and rate of erosion. Estimates of rate: 1" in 1,000yr vs. 40 years. 238: can't move anymore. estimate of hectares per person. Explores physical and gentic limits on productivity. Key globalization point: There's much left to cultivate. Nice analysis about how large vs. small societies respond to problems. 20th cent food production doubled by increase N fert 7x and Ph 3.5x
  • Agr-ecology: Need to treat soil as a "locally adapted biological system rather than a chemical system" (Note bad reductionism, as in nutritionism.)
  • 241: not just about organic, but about enriching soil. mentions Cal non-sustainable organic. "unglobalization of ag" as oil becomes expensive. example of 19th cent. Paris use of horse shit to fetilize fields. (urban farming -- look up new examples
  • connections between climate change, Syrian civil war, ISIS and refugee crisis. [22]

Notes on Diet Design

  • Comparing two starting points for a daily diet
  • All roads lead to soil

FEB 28

Audio from class: [23] [24]

Tannahill Chapter 3, "Changing the Face of the Earth"

  • images of primal food products -- communal cooking, grain pastes
  • domestication of animals -- note different paths -- Discussion Point: How does the origin of domesticated food animals inform your thinking about its justification?
  • milk
  • honey -- consider claims about exploitation.
  • religion and food culture - hunter/nomad cultures favor creation myths, active gods. agrarians favor resurrection myths (Summerians "Bull of Heaven" 3500bc)

Tannahill Chapter 4, "The First Civilizations"

  • disappearance of nomadic herdsman
  • post-Roman renewal of animal husbandry
  • Summer diet - original plant & animal based diet 42
  • Ale and Beer
  • 40% of grain production to ale -Sumer
  • ale a by product of Epyptian bread
  • Sugar Foods - date palm and fig
  • Note: can't get bread from toasted wheat, so that harvest technology precluded the leavened bread.
  • religion and food -
  • Diet as means of identity - Mosaic dietary law had this function, perhaps. don't boil the kid in mom's milk
  • original vegetarianism in Hebrew life -- Gen. 1:29, p. 56
  • after the flood, distinction between eating the flesh with it's "life" or not; blood and slaughter
  • Clean and Unclean foods
  • picking out herbivores with "ate grass and chewed cud and cloven hooves" are clean. against eating predatory animals, against animals with "blemishes" that are somehow "not right" in nature.
  • Passover meal might be a reference to pre or early neolithic period.

Essay Questions for 1st Short Writing

  • Please choose one of the essay topics below and write a 500-750 words answer in response.
  • 1. What is food? Consider various ways of defining food and reasons why one might define food one way or another. Advocate a definition of food, if possible.
  • 2. How has nutrition science and nutritional information played a role in the Western Diet? Evaluate the arguments for avoiding nutritionism and suggest a positive model for considering nutritional information alongside other dimensions of food experience.
  • 3. What is the significance of the modern restaurant? How does the subsequent history of the restaurant inform our understanding of its significance?
  • Instructions for writing a great essay:
  • 1. Questions can be answered in 500 words or so, but do observe the 750 word limit.
  • 2. Focus on good writing, good use of source material, and a clear thesis. Assignment Rubric
  • Instructions for submitting your essay.
  • 1. Do not put your name in the file (delete from header, if necessary) or on the file name. Use your animal name pseudonym in the file where you would normally put your name. To find your animal pseudonym, use this key file: [25]. If you want to add your student id, you may, but it is not necessary. Try to avoid disclosing your animal name to me, or anyone else.
  • 2. Save your file in .docx format and with filename "5" or "4" depending upon your section (5 is the 1:50 section and 4 is the 3:15 section).
  • 3. Upload the file through the Q&R dropbox at by Sunday, March 5, midnight.


Audio from class: [26] [27]

Soler, Jean. "The Semiotics of Food in the Bible"

  • background thesis: link between diet and view of the world.
  • This is one of the source articles for Tanahill's chapter. Soler gives more detail about the transitions from:
  • Biblical vegetarianism (soul not immortal till 2nd cent bc, external concept)
  • Post-flood, covenant with Noah: eat anything but not "flesh with its life" (still, meat has negative connotation)
  • Post exilic covenant with Moses: adds distinction between clean and unclean animals. Still, meat allowed as concession to man's moral imperfection.
  • Clean or pure eating involves going back to origins and God's original intent for creation (carnivorous animals out, fish with legs out, winged insects are freaks, birds that don't fly). Hence exclusion of "blemished" or "unnatural" animals. But Hebrews didn't go back to original vegetarianism, rather to nomad hunter/gatherer diet. Passover meal "bitter herbs and meat" no ag products, no leavening for bread (back to grain pastes!), nothing fermented.
  • Notion of moral order also applied to "mixed" marriages, prohibition of homosexuality, even to having an ox and an ass ploughing together.
  • Christianity comes in as an evangelical religion, so it must break with dietary laws of the Jews. Christ declares all food clean. See quote 65. Peter's vision of being commanded to eat clean and unclean animals.
  • This recent NPR story about the book Fish on Fridays tells the story of the Catholic medieval promotion of fishing-fasting days and the later decline in the fish market with Anglican church politics. [28]
  • Discussion directions:
  • How does food function metaphysically, strategically, and socially in relation to JCI culture?
  • Do contemporary food philosophies also involve these semiotic functions? Is the plant-based organic diet justified as "best practice" alone or is it a genuine "food philosophy" similar to the JCI versions?

Tannahill, ch 6, "Imperial Rome"

  • the Roman bread dole: "bread and circus" - first grain, then bread. 14 million bushels a day. Other foods included.
  • typical roman plebe wouldn't have a kitchen. class distinctions: beyond a kitchen, variety of foods. lots of imports for the first time
  • Apicius -- one of the first gourmands, food writer. early cookbook.
  • Liquamen -- read 83 - fish sauces are early gastronomic developments.
  • Silphium -- a lost food!
  • Spice trades - ancient, but again 1st century Roman culture develops the concept.


Audio from class: [29] [30]

Philosophy of Food note

  • An interesting conclusion from last week was the thesis that all diets are "philosophies of food" because they all involve an implicit or explicit approach to nature and reality. Our diets reflect commitments about our place in the world. Religious philosophical diets show this dramatically, but "whole food ism" (taking the current consensus diet as normative, along with some personal imperatives such as "purity" and ethical imperatives such as sustainability) also shows a set of philosophical commitments. Global diets vary from the diet implied by "whole foodism" and diets such as the paleo diet show that a diet is a choice. The facts about food and nutrition 'underdetermine' the diet.

Wallach, Chapter 1, "The Cuisines of Contact"

  • Thanksgiving 1621
  • Thanksgiving, 1621, "Puritans" and Wampanoag Indians. Description of Mayflower diet and transit. ship's biscuits, scurvy.
  • Pilgrims steal Indian corn, claiming it was sent by God, but also repaying the Indians later.
  • 40 of 102 voyagers died the first winter.
  • Encounter with Tisquantum. 5: Indian planting methods "three sisters", fish fertilizer
  • Thanksgiving meals were ordinary rituals, not annual commemorations. "Thanksgiving" doesn't become a national holiday until the late 19th century, and even then not explicitly connected to Pilgram event until a few years later. Later used to promote assimiliation. (Food/identity)
  • 1636 war with Pequot might was food related. 7-8
  • Early Modern ideas of food and diet, corn
  • Brits diet ideas: Galen rules until modern chemistry: four humours, food and character (11) diet and psychology together (which, given the microbiota research, isn't crazy). But crazy to think wine fortifies blood, eating an animal you take on its character. "Humoral eating" Fish reduces carnal desire.
  • Iroquous for corn "our life" "our mother" - p. 17: Pilgrims wary of choosing corn because of it's association with Indian identity, doubted its nutritious properties. wheat and fungus. not easily in early modern New England. Tried to "eat savage food in a civilized way" 18
  • Jamestown 1607
  • a commercial venture, near complex Indian confederations, Indians fed colonists, but colonists also raided villages and murdered Indians. Powhatan decides to stop helping, 1609 winter of starvation (and cannibalism) 22. native diet 23, told from a captive's report.
  • Early Settlers diets and food ideology
  • Following the Mayflower, the Massachusetts Bay Colony organized arrival of 16,000 by 1640s. "City on a Hill" saw morality of community related to food security. food pests, crop failures might be consequence of fornication! communal fasting. 26: simplicity of Puritan diet in part a rejection of perceived upper class English gluttony.


Audio from class: [31] [32]

Wallach, Jean. Ch. 6, "The Pious or Patriotic Stomach"

  • her question: How do Americans use food to express purity, piety, patriotism, or other values?
  • identifies cultural values as "entitlement to modernity and abundance"
  • Graham's Critique of Am. Diet
  • transitions in early 19th century diet: more variety, bakeries, canned good, trans. of food prep out of the kitchen (already!), status in not having to eat locally. transition for average person (esp. women) from being food producers to food consumers.
  • Sylvester Graham, Pennsylvannia Temperance society. main ideas, p. 145 read. (note. we should be interested in early claims like this, in part, so we can assess contemporary claims more critically.) note partly right about gut health, milling process. not only advocates whole wheat bread, but virtue of baking it at home.
  • strong resistance to G's vegetarian diet. also thought sex was bad for your health. sensational for his candor. 1837 lecture incident. deplatformed! - note the dual appeal of his message as a "pious diet"
  • Shaker diet
  • guided by an 1821 document on diet, limiting alcohol (not before breakfast!) simple local food. Graham's diet appealed and many Shakers started following it. no meat, coffee or alcohol. conflict, some communities reported healthier living from G's diet.
  • Transcendentalist diet
  • Alcott (Louisa May's dad) into transcendentalism, critics of salvery, treatment of native am, inequalities.
  • set up "Fruitlands" commune. living off the land. note beliefs, 151 -- note development of thoughts on animals rights. legitimacy of eating animals.
  • details...
  • Kellogg and the Cereal Revolution
  • impact on Seventh Day Adventists: Ellen White, prophetess, visions about health and diet. details 152.
  • meets John Harvey Kellogg, who had health issues and independently chose vegetarianism. after medical education, founds Battle Creek Sanitarium, presides for 60 years. good works in Chicago and with poor.
  • Graham-like diet, with a "zwieback" (twice backed biscuit or bread) hard to chew, invents a kind of granola (not first), invents peanut butter, machine processing of grain.
  • William Kellogg commercializes the cereals that started at his brother's Sanitarium. Charles Post, former client, starts rival spa, "La Vita Inn" which allows meat. Odd theory of "positive" thinking about health. Grape-Nuts!

MAR 14

Spring Break

MAR 16

Spring Break

MAR 21

Audio from class: [33] [34].

  • Pantry Fuel Class reschedule: [[35]] Please consider the new dates, next Wednesday or Thursday, 4-6 or 6-8.

Recap of 1st half and Look ahead to 2nd half

  • Major topics from 1st half: philosophical analysis of food culture (Montanari), critiques of US food system, models for healthy eating (Pollan), anthropology and history of human experience with soil and agriculture, the restaurant, overview of ethics of food, religion and food, food culture of the colonial US and 19th century food culture (spas, cereal, early contemporary religious/trophic philosophies of food. Practical work: Diet Review, analytic writing
  • Major topics for 2nd half: Greater detail on nutrition, discussion of food satisfaction for particular natural and industrial foods, slow food culture

Gratzer, Terrors of the Table, Ch 1, "The Ravages of War"

  • Harriet Chick 1919 visit to Vienna
  • background in science, interest in nutrition.
  • competing theory about rickets. Von Pirquet thought is was an infectious disease
  • background and characteristics of rickets
  • alarming rate of disease reduced societies' war readiness. urban London poor often lived on unenriched white bread -- roller milled.
  • p. 4 -- examples of military campaigns doomed by malnutrition. Lots of other examples.
  • Search for "standard diet" rations for both civilians and military.
  • Prof Wenkebach - heart specialist, but experience with beri-beri in east Indies.
  • With Elysie Dalyell, Chick demonstrates Vit C cure infantile scurvy ward. Big moment.
  • Use of Vit D on patient with keratomalacia (ulceration of cornea), saves patient's sight. Cod liver oil [36]
  • Rickets-baby study bot. 7. Another big moment. Trial ended immediately. Example of how confusing diet studies can be. von Pirquet's diet still had Vit. D, but low quality due to low fat content of milk (fats needs to carry fat soluble vitamins). Also, note confounding effects p. 9 in sorting out the role of sunlight (vs. fresh air) in Vit D production.
  • Industrial production of cod livers! halibut liver and tuna liver immensely more D!
  • Robert McCance & Elsie Widdowson -- 1933 - Elsie's background included work in lab that separated amino acids for the first time.
  • major collaboration - The chemical Composition of Foods 1940. First rel comprehensive analysis of food nutrients.
  • Extreme diet research --- self-experimentation is a bit of a tradition in nutrition research. Examples in MCance's discovery of salt/water loss mechanisms.
  • Concluding points on nutrition and public health.

Quick notes on Scurvy, Beri beri, and Rickets

  • scurvy -
  • Scurvy is a disease resulting from a lack of vitamin C.[1] Early symptoms include weakness, feeling tired, curly hair, and sore arms and legs.[1][2] Without treatment, decreased red blood cells, gum disease, and bleeding from the skin may occur.[1] As scurvy worsens there can be poor wound healing, personality changes, and finally death from infection or bleeding.[2]
  • beri beri -
  • Beriberi refers to a cluster of symptoms caused primarily by thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency. Beriberi has conventionally been divided into three separate entities, relating to the body system mainly involved (peripheral nervous system or cardiovascular) or age of person (like infantile). Beriberi is one of several thiamine-deficiency related conditions, which may occur concurrently, including Wernicke's encephalopathy (mainly affecting the central nervous system), Korsakoff's syndrome (amnesia with additional psychiatric manifestations), and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (with both neurologic and psychiatric symptoms).
  • Historically, beriberi has been common in regions where what is variously referred to as polished or white rice forms a major part of the diet, which has its husk removed to extend its shelf life and palatability but has the side effect of removing the primary source of thiamine.[1] It was not known until the end of the 19th century that polishing rice was associated with beriberi.
  • rickets
  • Rickets is defective mineralization or calcification of bones before epiphyseal closure in immature mammals due to deficiency or impaired metabolism of vitamin D,[1] phosphorus or calcium,[2] potentially leading to fractures and deformity. Rickets is among the most frequent childhood diseases in many developing countries. The predominant cause is a vitamin D deficiency, but lack of adequate calcium in the diet may also lead to rickets (cases of severe diarrhea and vomiting may be the cause of the deficiency). Although it can occur in adults, the majority of cases occur in children suffering from severe malnutrition, usually resulting from famine or starvation during the early stages of childhood.

Nix, "Proteins"

  • Nature of
  • 20 amino acids, 9 essential
  • about 16% nitrogen
  • you can sometimes detect a byproduct of protein metabolism in urine.
  • protein and nitrogen balance
  • Functions of
  • Tissue growth/repair
  • Water and pH balance [[37]]
  • Metabolism, transport, immune system, energy system
  • Food Sources
  • Complete proteins mostly from animal sources.
  • Completing proteins: p. 52. also compare links [[38]] and [[39]]
  • advice on vegeatarian diets
  • Digestion
  • Occurs in stomach and small intestines
  • Recommendations
  • 10-35% of calories from diet
  • .8g / Kg of body weight.
  • Overconsumption of protein by Americans, p. 59

MAR 23

Audio from class: [40] [41]

Core Outcomes: Discussion 1

  • This course is qualified as a "Core Integration Seminar," which is partly specfied by these learning outcomes:
  1. Integrate the principles of a Jesuit education, prior components of the Core, and their disciplinary expertise (knowledge).
initially let's characterize this in terms of "ethical living, service to others, the search for truth and a passion for justice".
How would you expect students from a Jesuit educational background to approach the topics in our course in a distinctive way?
How do your disciplines relate to our course topic.
  1. Clearly and persuasively communicate with an audience of diverse educational backgrounds, personal experiences, and value commitments using ideas and arguments based on evidence, logic, and critical thinking (skill).
  • We've done a bit of analytic writing, journal writing, and a fair amount of discussion. Can we think of ways that our discussion have been or can become sensitive to diverse audiences as indicated in the learning outcome?
  1. Assess the ways in which the Core has transformed the commitments and perspectives that will inform their future endeavors (attitude).
  • The 4th Year Question: Imagining the possible: What is our Role in the World?
  • How does our topic relate to your future well-being and way of living?

Barber, "The 16.9 Carrot"

  • This story connects our work on soil and nutrition with our focus now on gastronomy - practices that promotes taste, satisfaction, and significance or meaningfulness of a diet.
  • Blue Hill and Stone Barnes -- as a project [[42]]
  • Basic story -- farm/restaurant relationship, farmer Jack with his 16.9 carrots.
  • sugar also predicts other things: oils, amino acids, minerals. much of this has flavor dimension to humans.
  • 186: story of the soil, example of distilled vs. live vinegar,
  • effects of syn nitrogen on microbes -- claim: nitrates saturate water and prevent mineral uptake -- Good research opp: nutrition analysis of differently sourced vegetables. note -- this is beyond "organic"
  • "industrial organic" carrots from Mexico -- 0 Brax. But also note the point about "terroir" at the end of the essay.

Barber, "Intro and Ch 12"

  • Story of Eight Row flint corn at Blue Hills. sig. "varietal restoration" "heritage cultivation"
  • planted in "Three Sisters"
  • polenta not typically thought of as high flavor experience, but in this case it was.
  • some background on "farm to table" "artisanal eaters" "locavores"
  • chef as activist
  • p. 11ff: Barber's critique of farm to table and the 1st and 2nd plates.
  • lamb chop story-- farm serving table. p.14 top of 15
  • 1st, 2nd, 3rd plates 17
  • Ch. 12 -- two stories of "terroir"
  • Eduardo and his geese -- How does Eduardo come across to you?
  • Monesterio and jamon -- [[43]]
  • food religion point: 163
  • the "dehesa" is the locale for the terrior of jamon iberico. enclosure for pasture of sheep built after the reconquista. grass and oaks protected by law. note relationship between the pigs eating pattern in this environment and the arrival of the acorns.
  • note the physical limits of the terroir for jamon. note only geographic, but acres/pig. Can't scale this up.

Terroir definied

  • Terroir: Terroir (French pronunciation: ​[tɛʁwaʁ] from terre, "land") is the set of all environmental factors that affect a crop's phenotype, unique environment contexts and farming practices, when the crop is grown in a specific habitat. Collectively, these contextual characteristics are said to have a character; terroir also refers to this character.[1]

MAR 28

Audio from class: [44] [45]

Article on HFCS consumption and obesity. More on metabolism of sugars. [[46]]

Article of fiber in diets. [[47]]

Moss, Ch. 4, "Is It Cereal or Candy?"

  • $660 million to $4.4 billion 1970 to mid 80s.
  • back to Kellog, but just for the intro -- some new details
  • note early ad claims by Post for Grape-Nuts and Postum
  • breakfast cereal growth coincided with increased labor participation by women. Easy meal to eliminate cooking for, especially with cheap milk.
  • Ira Shannon, Dental activist!, measures sugar content on breakfast cereals after Feds refuse. 74
  • Jean Mayer, Harvard nutritionist, big deal, early obesity research. title for chapter from an essay of his.
  • note nomenclature issue in the public policy discussion: breakfast cereals v. breakfast foods. who cares?
  • political story of sugar in 1977 -- FTC over responds to concern about marketing of cereals to kids by banning all advertising to kids. failed. Washington Post labels it "the National Nanny". role of gov't issue. still, FTC report was credible and damning on the topic of advertising sugar to kids.
  • 2/3 price of the cereal is in the advertising (!).
  • cereal wars through the 80s: 82-84. Kellogg's crisis. corporate cereal culture, like coke/pepsi. suggests Kellogg put marketers in charge of product development. 85 rice crispes story -- you only need the flavor of the treat in the cereal.
  • odd twist - the "Cinnamon" and "bad apple" commercials. [[48]]
  • Frosted Mini-Wheats became "brain food". fraudulent research. 91-92 (Interesting. You could argue that we entered a "post truth" era in the food industry before politics.)

Moss, Ch. 11, "No Sugar, No Fat, No Sales"

  • This is the story of Kraft's effort to respond to the obesity epidemic by cutting calories from its food line. Initially a "cabal" within Kraft, but then supported by it's tobacco executive owners at Phillip Morris (some of whom had been through the big tobacco litigation era), they proposed "package nutrition" labeling, reductions in calories from products, reducing "indulge" messaging, restaint in marketing to kids. They removed "billions" of calories from products (256). Sales tanked and the Wall street analysts circled. 2003 CEO fired, others connected with the effort leave.

Nix, Chapter 2, "Carbohydrates"

  • Nature of
  • Carbs are a source of short term energy. All Carbs break down into sugars during metabolism.
  • Scale of simple to complex. Simple sugars (monosacharides) don't even require digestion. Starchs are complex and "slow burning".
  • Limits to the "energy" metaphor:
  • carb levels and types help regulate other processes like insulin response,
  • fiber helps with useful bacteria production, appears to reduce colon cancer, helps with bowel function and avoidance of diverticulosis.
  • carb types and level signal body to break down protein for energy or not.
  • soluble fiber binds bile acids, lowering cholesterol
  • per capita HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) up from .12 tsp daily in 1970 to 11.18 tsp in 2008.
Note warning on high fiber low iron-rich diet. Phytic acid in this diet can cause iron deficiency. You can get too much fiber, but most Americans don't.
  • Functions of
  • reserve fuel supply is stored as glycogen in muscles [[49]] and blood sugar. Roughly 1-2 hours of aerobic exercise.
  • carbs keep us from going into ketosis, but as we've noted, you can have a diet based on having your body in a state of ketosis.
  • Digestion
  • primarily in small intestine, through enzymes such as amalyse from the pancreas, and from the "microvilli" of the intestine which contain specific disaccaridases: sucrase, lactase, and maltase. (digression from p. 26 text box on dairying as textbook case of gene-culture co-evolution.)
  • Some of the microbiologists who study gut bacteria suggest that you think of carbs as feeding both you and them. Neither fat nor protein get into the large intestine in significant amounts. We feed our gut bacteria with carbs.
  • Recommendations
  • decrease added sugar to less than 10% of calorie intake
  • increase proportion of complex carbs.

Starchy vs. Non-Starchy Veg

  • Corn, peas, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkin, squash, zucchini and yams are all examples of starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables are typically flowering parts of the plant. Lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, spinach, mushrooms, onions, peppers and tomatoes are all considered non-starchy vegetables.

MAR 30

Audio from class: [50] [51]

The Bread Lab [[52]]

Civil Eats story on perennial wheat from the land institute [[53]]

Short film on Regenerative Farming: Unbroken Ground (25 min) [[54]]

Barber, Dan. Chapter 30: "Bread" (pp. 382-409)

  • Introductory story of the tomato fungus. fungus worse because spread from trucks, but also highlighting varietal system. Mountain Magics resist blight fungus and still taste good. We meet the Cornell breeders of this variety. Theme of the chapter: how does the work of plant breeders affect the food system, especially flavor and yield.
  • Background on Land grant system. 1862, with USDA, experiment station, extention service added in 1914.
  • Terroir for wheat? Aragon 03, kept alive in a corner of Spain, in high demand.
  • Steve Jones, formerly of WSU, now Washington State Resaearch and Extention Center, Mt Vernon (and Bread Lab) background story - how land grant seed banks work, fateful meeting with Monsanto, 1880 Bayh-dole Act. by 1990s majority funding from private industry.
    • Specialty wheat in Skagit Valley. (So, if wheat were a fresh crop, we would also be supporting crop rotation over syn fertilizers.)
  • Nice narrative moment with the farmers and Jones. Interesting point about how the flavor yield trade off occurs more in plant that have been selected for size and water. Harder to ramp up flavor with all that water. Also, older wheat variety had higher nutrition.

Moss, Michael. Chapter 2, "How do you get People to Crave?," Salt Sugar Fat

  • 2002 Coke 4.5 billion cases; Pepsi 3.2 Dr. Pepper 708 million and slumping.
  • Howard Moskowitz - marketing genius turned to food -- Harvard research -- product line extention, competition for shelf space. "bliss point" or flavor optimization; "conjoint analysis" statistical; voila -- Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper!
  • interesting personal defense on p. 31-32.
  • career in military foods and nutrition -- "sensory specific satiety" tendency of strong flavors to overwhelm apetite (bad in war, but not always!). Moskowitz added sugar to MREs. There is a bliss point for sugar in foods.
  • Maxwell house story -- figured out that roast strength tracked taste demographics. idea behind line extension. (colonizing taste; monetizing taste)
  • Prego -- pretty sweet!
  • Scene at the diner in White Plains -- very funny. He can taste the benzldehde behind the flavor in Dr. Pepper; eats healthy.
  • more on Dr. Pepper research and more technical definition of bliss point on p. 42.

  • pet theory -- "palate shift"


Audio from class: [55] [56]

Picture for today: [57]

Nix, Chapter 3, "Fats"

  • Nature of
  • C, H, O
  • fatty acids are chains of C-H bonds with a methyl group on one end (so-called the "omega") and an acid on the other (which bonds to a glycerol)
  • saturated (no spaces in the C-H string), mono (space at the 9th H), poly (spaces after 6) (linoleic acid) and, if after 3, Omega-3 or alpha-linolenic acid)
  • visibly: saturated fats are dense, form solids
  • "trans" in structure and implicated in health risks, largely removed from processed foods.
  • Functions of
  • essential fatty acids: , linoleic acid (omega 6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) . we can produced saturated fats and cholesterol from these sources.
  • 34: diet of less than 10% calories from fat
  • some interesting detailed functions in phospholipids such as lecithin (for cell membranes), and eicosanoids (signaling hormones that relate inflammatory and immune response, and cholesterol, which we need for cell membrane health.
  • fats essential to for tissue strength, cholesterol metabolism, muscle tone, blood clotting, and heart action.
  • storage of energy, energy.
  • source of fat soluble vitamins.
  • saiety!
  • Food Sources
  • fat from meat is compatible with a healthy diet, but better when taken with fiber and balanced with high ratio of polyunsaturated fats.
  • fish have mostly unsaturated fat [58] compared to red meat [59]
  • visible and invisible fats
  • Digestion
  • enzymes in small intestine (from pancreas), bile from gallblader, bile emulsifies fat, increasing surface area for enzymes to act.
  • frying foods at high temperatures makes digestion harder and compounds can break down into carcinogenes.
  • Recommendations
  • US overconsumption of sat. fats. should have less than 7% of calories from sat&trans fat combined.
  • very low fat and fat free diets are dangerous to health (p. 43).
  • DRI for linoleic acids (in veg oils and fish) at 17 g. alpha linolenic acid 1.1 g/day. some puzzlement here (44).

Moss, Ch. 8, "Liquid Gold"

  • Stories told in this chapter: Dean Southworth and Cheese Whiz; James Lewis Kraft, cheese entrepreneur!; story of cheese in the US food economy; Kraft marketing of Philadelphia cream cheese and Paula Dean story; closing research on visible/invisible fats. There is no upper bliss point for fat!
  • Cheez Whiz; altered from original, but never a gourmet experience. Pretty much no cheese in it.
  • Am cheese consumption: 33pounds/year; 50 gallons of soda
  • traditional consumption of cheese (mention Cesare & Ornella)
  • Kraft orgins story: invented canned cheese. used in field rations. 1928: Velveeta, high sodium as by product of industrial process.
  • point is that industrial cheese can be made in a few days. fresh cheeses are quick, but real solid cheese can take 18 months or more to mature.
  • Cheese in US food economy
  • anti-fat campaign of 80s led to overproduction of milkfat, gov't subsidized milk and cheese; huge warehouses of cheese (1.9 billion pounds at a cost to taxpayers of 44billion a year) ; Reagan admin stopped this, but also raised funds from the industry for new marketing efforts.
  • Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • "sliced" didn't work. spreading is part of the fun, but also suppresses serving size information.
  • Kraft Mac & Cheese. Nutritional profile doesn't look bad [60], but check out this comparison [61]
  • Early social media marketing effort using Food network star Paula Dean (read 178) and social media to generate interest. creating food culture. 5% boost in sales.
  • 2008 Dutch research
  • visible / invisible fats and satiety, perception of fat. results: everyone underestimated fat content, visible fat group full faster, about 10% more.
  • Puzzle: many cultures eat much more cheese than Americans. French 53, Italy 44, Germans 46.


Audio from class: [62] [63]

Andrews, Chatpers 1 & 2, The Slow Food Story

Chapter 1, "Politics in Search of Pleasure"

(This wasn't assigned for us, but I have these notes to share:)

  • context for slow food: social movements of the 60's and 70's. (Italian counter-culture.)
  • low power radio stations common means: Radio Bra Onde Rosse.
  • politics at Club Tenco, also the pursuit of pleasure.
  • revival of traditional festivals: the singing for eggs (Cante i'euv)
  • 1982 incident: Montalcino Sagra del Tordo (thrush) Mention Arci clubs.
  • in play: Is the pursuit of pleasure through healthy food and culture a capitalist bourgeoisie plot or a fundamental right to be advocated politically?
  • formation of an "Arci Gola" (appetite)
  • projects: Gambero Rosso, wine guides, Osterie d'Italia, guides to osterie.
  • 1986: wine poisoning scandal. McDonalds opens in Rome at Spanish Steps.
  • Slow Food Manifesto
  • parallel movement in US embodied on story of Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse. Pollan also finds sources of these ideas in 1960s US counter-culture.
  • Eco-gastronomy -- (a great sub-field of food study, by the way! cf. Dan Berber, The Third Plate) and the "politics of aesthetics" (only partly in line with Marxism). (So Carlo Petrini is another candidate for Gramsci's authentic intellectual.)
  • Projects: international food exhibitions, then Terra Madre (2004), related movements in Germany (Greens)
  • slow food also has a conservative dimension.

Chapter 2, "The Critique of 'Fast Life'"

  • some key dates: McDonald's in Rome, 1986, incident between the two arci chapters (a moment in which politics and gastronomy interact to great effect!).
  • critique of "productivity culture"; efficiency vs. frenzy; idea that you need to live faster because other things are accelerating (financial trade volume, sale, news cycles, social media posting and communication)
  • critique includes resistance to corporate formations and rationalizations (degradation) of taste. Slow Food is tied to leftist politics, but also has a US upper middle class "face" in the US site. [64]
  • Castell's theory of time-space compression -- capitalism more and more about speed of transactions. circuluation of capital. (on edge of a big discussion about the future of work - piece work is coming back).
  • Counter view of Charles Leadbeater and others: fast culture is the answer, the problem is that we have all of these institutions from the 19th century and earlier slowing us down.
  • Ritzer's "McDonaldization of Society" -- "globalization of nothing" (social forms centrally conceived, centrally controlled and lacking in context).
  • Schlosser, Fast Food Nation:
  • 1970 6 billion on fast food; ("million" in the text is a mistake)
  • 2001 110 billion
  • 2010 200 billion (not in text)
  • British "trolley towns"; American suburbs. globalization of construction and architecture.
  • Petrini on slowness: p. 39 read
  • Slow cities: features of slow cities:

Group Discussion with Reporting

  • Start a general discussion in your group about the different ideas connected to the critique of fast culture and your receptivity or resistance to them. Consider Leadbetter's and others arguments against slow culture.
  • Do you see the critique of fast culture primarily in terms of promoting slow food practices or does it seem to necessarily include changes in one's lifestyle or approach to life? Submit a digest (bullet points and notes) of your discussion through the google form for this. [Small Group Discussion Report]

Notes on Practicality

Practicality can be thought of at several levels from the logistics of supplying your diet to sustainability.

  • Here's my initial list of criteria for practicality (on the logistical side of things):
  • You have a practical diet when:
  • you always know what you need at the store,
  • you rarely waste food,
  • you don't spend more time preparing food than you can afford,
  • your food is portable when you need it to be,
  • your meals are flexible when they need to be,
  • you have plenty of opportunities to prepare food when you aren't busy,
  • but you never have to do it when you are too busy,
  • you always have something great to eat and many choices about dinner,
  • And, it's all completely affordable.

But digging deeper:

  • How much time should you "afford" for food preparation and enjoying. How often? Slow Food thinking supplies some answers to this.
  • What are the main strategies for "time shifting" your meal preparation? for batch preparation?
  • How does solving practicality problems affect the sustainability of your diet as a personal practice?
  • Focusing on practicality also increases personal accountability (counting calories from added sugar, alcohol, food costs and value)?

APR 11

Audio from class: [65] [66]

Gastropod, "V is for Vitamin"

  • based on Catherine Price's, "Vitamania" (2015)
  • no standard definition, not all "amines". important point for thinking about other micronutrients: very very small amounts, but big effects. maybe you shouldn't dismiss phytonutients, thousands of chemicals in very small amounts in natural foods.
  • long list of metabolic effects, but one big one is as co-enzyme.
  • odd details.
  • we do make B12, but lower in our gut that we can harvest it. Rabbits. "hind fermenters"
  • some of the Vit D in milk comes from a process involving irradiation of sheep wool. [67]
  • Vitamin C story -- still have the gear to make it. lost this about 65mya.
  • Critical part of Price's treatment:
  • Vitamin-Food Industry connection. Not just in the local use of vitamin research to tout additives, but more fundamentally:
Industrial foods couldn't exist without vitamins. You could say that the discovery and ability to synthesize vitamins is the technology that allows processed food to exist. Claims we would have massive vitamin deficiencies without additives. Interesting that vitamins aren't made in the US.
  • Niacin stimulates appetite. Niacin reinforcement in food coincides with trend toward over eating in US. (Opportunity for conspiracy theory here.)

Gratzer, "Paradigm Postponed: Tardy arrival of vitamins"

  • issue in turn of century nutrition: is Leibig's "trinity" (C, F, P) enough for health?
  • big problem: discovery of germ theory by Pasteur & al lead to strong bias in favor of germ theories for nutritional diseases.
  • "misasma" theory of airborne germs. Interesting story of discover of causes on cholera by a London doctor, John Snow, The Ghost Map (1850)
  • The Rice Disease: Beriberi - deficiency of B1 Thiamine.
  • Kanehiro Takaki: two ships experiment
  • Christian Eijkman -- chicken experiments, confounded by diet change - 138. started looking for "factor" in the diet (either nutrient or "antidote") later experiments with imported chickens also confounded when chicken refused the polished rice. research of Eijkman published only in Dutch journals.
  • Dr. Hamilton Wright, brit, 1905, asylum experiment 141: suspected a "toxin" in the polished rice. (still biased toward finding presence of a cause, rather than cause from deficiency - mention bias). knew about Takaki research, tipped him toward nutritional factor.
  • Resistance: 143: made fun of Eijman!
  • Pellagra - "angry skin" - deficiency of B3 Niacin
  • dermititus, diarrhoea, dementia, death
  • widespread in 19th c US. lots of theories p. 145
  • Dr. Joseph Goldberger, 1914 - study at Georgia State Sanitarium for the Insane in Midgeville, GA
  • staff didn't get sick. How could it be infectious? did the diet experiment with the inmates.
  • Resistance: counterexplanations offer to save germ theory. southern resistance even after acceptance of G's theory, second experiment on prison population, still resistance, extreme nutrtion science, p. 148. read.
  • 1927 outbreak, Goldberger distributes 12,000 pds of brewer's yeast. Miracle!
  • Kwashiorkor - "Sickness of Older Child" - protein deficiency
  • Cicely Delphine Williams, Jamacan born Brit, research in Ghana, resisted by establishment, thought it was pellagra,
  • Hunger
  • Sieges and intentional starvations of the 20th century give grim evidence.
  • typical starvation death from infection from compromised immune system.
  • Siege of Paris: 1870-71: sad stories from the zoo and dogs.
  • Dutch Hunger Winter 1944:
  • Germans ---
  • Warsaw Ghetto extermination -- read.

Nix, "Vitamins"

  • What are they? Non-coloric chemicals that perform a variety of functions, such as in coenzymes, as catalysts, antioxidants, hormones. Coenzyme functions can cut across macronutrients (helping metabolize glucose, fatty acids, or amino acids).
  • Milligrams and micrograms (millionth of a gram)-- How can very small amounts of something matter so much?
  • Some practical advice:
  • Fat soluble
  • Vit A - antioxidant, vision, tissue strength, immunity, growth. RDA: 700-900 mcg (millionths). potential toxicity above UL 3000 mcg. Longer story about Beta carotene in diet. Lots needs to make retional, but lots in dark leafty vegetables.
  • Vitamin D. really a "prohormone". complex production mechanisms and interactions with other hormones regulating calcium and phosphorus. relevant to osteoperosis. some evidence of n. hemisphere deficiency. deficiency causes rickets. Vit D toxicity - calcification of soft tissue; UL 4000IU. (I think it's hard to od on this from dietary sources. 11 cans of sardines would do it.)
  • Vitamin E Tocopherol - mistakenly thought of as related to reproduction. (OMG, the 70s). antioxidant, seems relevant to eye health (avoidance of cataracts) deficiency rare, no toxicity.
  • Vitamin K "koagulations vitamin" clotting, but also needed for proteins to work in bone and catilage dev. no toxicity (need to watch this with drugs related to anti-coagulation.) deficiency rare.
  • Water soluble
  • Vitamin C Ascorbic Acid - tissue (collagen) and bone building. antioxidant. immune effects. excess amounts can cause distress, kidney stones. not clearly toxic. (ascorbic acid also a preservative in foods)
  • Vitamin B1 Thiamin - prevents beriberi, no toxicity (kidneys flush excess), values less assured without plant oriented diet. Of course, now added to polished rice.
  • Vitamin B2 Riboflavin - related to cell regeneration, deficiencies noticed in healing, skin quality. No toxicity.
  • Vitamin B3 Niacin - anti-pellagra. involved with two coenzymes, one related to macronutrient metabolism, the other to DNA repair and stteroid hormone synthesis. deficiency ranges from bad appetite to skin and nervous system disorders"neuritis" (inflammation of a peripheral nerve or nerves, usually causing pain and loss of function.) excess can produce bad effects. UL 35 mg. meat is rich in niacin. interesting point in thinking about protein loving food cultures.
  • Vitamin B6 pyridoxine group - aids protein metabolism, (another example of complexity in the original "trinity") supplmental dosing can cause weird effects like uncoordinated movement and nerve damage. UL is 100mg/
  • Folate - extra needs for pregnancy, widely available. deficiency affect RNA & DNA synthesis. not toxic, but could mask B12 def.
  • Vitamin B12 Cobalamin - meat sources only - note even lacto-veg may need it as a supplement. [68]
  • Pantothenic Acid -- not usually deficient. no RDA no toxicity.
  • Biotin -- not usually deficient. no RDA. no toxicity
  • Phytochemicals -- may be non-essential yet beneficial; active area of research; many phytochemicals excised during industrial process. [69]
  • Claims for a philosophy of food to consider about vitamins:
  • Amazing complexity;
  • Support consensus diet. Supplement strategy makes lots of sense, but tilts argument toward whole foods again, especially with phytonutrients.
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements (and protein shakes) may be one of the best products of industrial food system.
  • Food is also pharmacy -- immune effects, but also mental health.

APR 13

Audio from class: [70] [71]

APR 18

Audio from class: [72] [73]

Philosophical Method

  • With the last unit of the class, we are back to a more traditional philosophical method. You will be reading a range of views about ethical concerns in various parts of the food system and you will be in regular small group conversation with peers to draw out each others' views and explore and test out commitments.

Some ethical concepts in the animal welfare / animal consumption discussion

  • Liberationist, Welfarist, "Happy Meat," ethics of care.
  • Today's class focused on standards of welfare. We'll address arguments about consumption later.
  • Natural Behaviors -
  • Some interesting "probes":
  • There is no law against abusing animals in agriculture, but there are laws against abusing other animals. (Elk poacher in the news yesterday.)
  • We treat some animals for consumption in ways that we would not allow people to treat their pets.
  • We have co-adapted and co-domesticated with animals.
  • Animal and plant agriculture are interdependent.
  • We know a lot more about animal welfare and consciousness than we used to.

Estabrook, "Hogonomics"

  • Journalist on a quest to Flying Pigs Farm to discover diff bt $15.00 lb and $3.49 lb pork. comparison
  • FP farm: 750 pigs/yr, breeding rates, heritage pigs retain natural behaviors vs. industrial sows' life, living condition diff, labor diff,
  • Differences in slaughter and "kill fee". Saline injected pink meat. Implied value difference.

Singer and Mason, "Ch 4, Meat and Milk Factories"

  • "Jake" refers to real interview subject. Book framed around several distinct diets of actual people and then journalism and ethics layered in.
  • Pigs
  • 90% fewer farms producing 103 million pigs, up from 69 million in 1975.
  • Pig farms environmental footprint dominated by excrement production. 4x human/day.
  • Pig interior life: smart, can express preferences, natural behaviors include socializing, forming groups, exploring enivronment. acreage ratios.
  • Evidence against sow stalls in EU investigation.
  • Interview with pig farmer, Wayne Bradley: small industrial, 10,000 pigs, (Implies large operation approach 700,000). Small examples of welfare: anesthesia for castration, limited nursing to accelerate production, continuous treatment for growth which cause side effects. Interesting interaction between a small industrial farmer and journalist. Note how tense it was and the allowance of an alternate ending from the farmer.
  • Milk
  • difficulty sourcing to particular dairy, even specialty brand. Cf. Pure Eire dairy [74]
  • Natural behaviors: form friendships, have emotional lives, experience pleasure on figuing something out. [75]
  • Lawnel Farm: about 900 cows, semi-industrial. cows indoors all the time, but not tied down, caves separated almost immediately, treatment of downers (
  • BST (from wiki page: rBST has not been allowed on the market in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, or the European Union since 2000. Argentina also banned the use of rBST. The FDA, World Health Organization, and National Institutes of Health have independently stated that dairy products and meat from BST-treated cows are safe for human consumption. In the United States, public opinion led some manufacturers and retailers to market only milk that is rBST-free.)
  • Fate of male dairy cows. Ethics of veal production. Short life of confinement. Veal production down, but calves often made into pet food (digression on eat production for our carnivorous pets. yikes.) Now mostly raised for beef, veal in decline [76]
  • air pollution from dairy and cattle production.
  • Beef cows
  • Journalist buying calves: Pollan's is "534" - gets growth hormone implant, banned in EU. Problem of feeding a forager grain instead of grass. unnatural diet. "feedlot bloat"
  • History of regulation of meat products as cattle feed after mad cow outbreak. [77] FDA did ban "beef blood" and other animal products in feed. [78]
  • Feedlot runoff: evidence of environment damage in fish alteration in stream with runoff. "endocrine disruption" manure injection in fields.
  • Australian ranch: example of "happy meat" -- like "crowd cow"?
  • Ethics of slaughter - some improvement in first time success. also an area in which Temple Grandin has been influential. traditional slaughter methods, like kosher and halaal are touted as humane when performed properly.
  • Additional sources:
  • US Veal production: [79]
  • Local Organic certified grass fed dairy: [80]
  • Mad Cow Outbreak / Regulation timeline: [81]
  • The Secret Life of cows: [82]
  • Cow trauma: [83]

APR 20

Audio from class: [84] [85]

Haynes and Francione, "The Myth of Happy Meat" and "Animal Welfare, Happy Meat, and Veganism as the Moral Baseline"

  • Haynes:
  • distinguishes welfarist/libertionist position,
  • welfarist tend to say: death is not a harm, fair exchange,
  • thesis: difference between welfarist and liberationist disappears on conceptual analysis.
  • analysis: Sumner's theory of human welfare: "justified satisfaction with life" . What could this mean for animals? "natural animal behaviors".
  • basis obligation to animals in a custodial-ward relationship. [Really? Not modified predator-prey?] This seems compatible with thinking of animals under our care as having a "work" life and "non-work" life.
  • Ultimately doesn't feel that the custodial relationship allows for early termination of life.
  • Therefore, true welfarism is equivalent to liberationism. (Care of pet entails non-consumption. But a liberationist wouldn't allow work from animals?) Article seems to end abruptly.
  • [Note: Haynes' analysis could be satisfied by caring pet owner or in dairying (modified to allow retirement), yet a true liberationist might want to get rid of pets and may not countenance.]
  • Francione:
  • distinguishes welfarist position: welfarists generally agree that humans are morally more important than animals.
  • Francione's 4 commitments:
  • Animals don't have less moral value than humans.
  • As long as animals are property, they will not be protected. (slave analogy)
  • Animal welfare movement promotes the idea that eating animals is basically acceptable.
  • The only way to avoid exploiting "sentient non-humans" is to stop eating them or their products.
  • core welfarist argument justifying consumption (from utilitarians, the first advocates for animal welfare in modern times):
  • animals may be sentient, but not self-aware, live in an "eternal present," therefore they do not have an interest in continued existence.
  • counter arguments: sentience not an end in itself, but has the purpose of prolonging existence. Odd to say that you can have sentience and not be focused (consciously or not) on your continued existence. (Seems right.) example of transglobal amnesia.
  • critical of awards given by PETA and others to Whole Foods and others.

APR 25

Audio from class: [86] [87]

Singer and Mason, Ch 2 "Hidden Costs of Cheap Chicken"

  • 2 billion chickens a year in US. 99% factory farms.
  • space and natural behaviors.
  • 1997 McDonald's case libel case. affirm cruelty charge.
  • Side bar on Chicken Shed: disease and suffering in current breeds and indust. methods. food rationing and natural behaviors.
  • Slaughter ethics: kill rate, industrial treatment, 90 birds a minute.
  • Turkey insemination. "Breaking" hens.
  • Environment. Delmarva pennisula segment: studies of county manure capacity and chicken production figures. a problem. worker's conditions and pay at Tyson.
  • Bird flu / Industrial chicken farms. Update: [88] [89]

Additional sites and issues

  • National Chicken Council: [90]
  • Technology and "male layers" [91]
  • Example of Local alternative to industrial chicken. Rocky Ridge. [92]
  • 2009 article on growth rate (15%) in small organic chicken market. [93]
  • Getting into the discussion about avian flu pathways in commercial vs. small free range production. Are they equally vulnerable or contributory? [94]
  • Forced Molting: [95]

APR 27

Audio from class: [96] [97]

Singer and Mason, Ch. 9, "Seafood"

  • 100 million tons a year of global consumption.
  • Problem of bycatch.
  • Tragedy of Commons - key concept: short term/ long term self-interest. You try to make up for decline by over grazing / over harvesting.
  • Story of the Cod harvest in N. Atlantic. effect of new scale of harvesting ship. '72 agreement over Iceland's claim to new territorial waters for purposing of managing fish stocks. Parallel Story about Canadian territorial claim but then collapse of cod. See update.
  • Pollock harvest is extraordinary yet appears sustainable. Certified by Marine Stewardship Council.
  • Chesapeake Bay crab story -- crabs also pretty resilient. dispute bt. two groups. [98]. imported crab.
  • Farmed fish - as much by weight as beef? from 3% to 33% of consumption
  • Structural problem with farmed fish -- consumption of fish exceeds production. depends on cheap fish meal, often from imports where fish sources are human food. three tons of pellet to get one ton of salmon. fish farm waste is significant. species invasion.
  • Note problem of fish names: "Chilean sea bass" not sea bass.
  • Shrimp. sustainable in the Gulf of Mexico, but by catch a problem - 5 to 1 ratio. Shrimp farming leads to an aquatic equivalent of deforestation. India case involving pollution from shrimp farms. Sourcing your shrimp could be the difference between relatively sustainable harvest and complicity.
  • Ethical concerns about fish slaughter. Disputes about fish experience of pain, but likely they do.
  • wiki page on fish slaughter. [99]

  • Additoinal sites
  • Cod rebounding in New Foundland [100]
  • Cod Book: [101]
  • Cod Wars. [102]
  • Iceland's Success. [103]
  • Chesapeake Bay crab update: [104].
  • EDF seafood selector [105]


Audio from class: [106] [107]

  • Special Class on Microbiota
  • Review the options for reading and viewing materials for class in the Reading Schedule
  • Come to class ready to briefly report something you learned about the microbiome. Here are some areas of microbiome research that you might consider:
  • Information about the complexity of the microbiome and the way it communicates with the brain.
  • Microbiome and anti-biotics
  • Microbiome and mental health
  • Microbiome and immune response
  • Microbiome health foods and probiotics research (and fad claims)
  • Microbiome, diet and nutrition
  • Some small notes on resources:
  • General: Microbiome technically the set of organisms and genomes that live on and in the human body. Possibly 100 trillion organisms. (100 billion per milliliter (.2 teaspoon) of intestine.) The gut microbiome would be a subset of this, really the bacteria living in the intestines, along with the systems of the body (the brain-gut connection) that have evolved to accommodate them. (in the French movie, The Gut: 1-2 kilos of body weight is bacteria!
  • Montgomery & Bikle:
  • Acidity of stomach 1-3 on ph scale. intestines are 7. seven quarts of bodily fluids flow through the small intestine each day. Pitch for whole grain, which feed fermentation process.
  • Protein putrefication: when bacteria in the colon encounter partially digested protein. interference with butyrate production. change in bacterial coverage, cascade of effects
  • Secondary bile acids from high fat diet, which delivers more bile to colon.
  • Speculates that we may have this model in part because we are omnivores. Note the mainstream eating advice.
  • The Gut: the Second Brain
  • 200 million neurons--1.5 million years of cooking. speculates that energy increase from cooking led to big brains, maybe also division of labor bt gut and brain.
  • 95% of serotonin production in the gut. possible that gut health related to hypersensitive responses -- IBS. Parkinson's can be diagnosed with gut biopsy. Idea that the gut is a "window on the brain". Treat the brain through the gut.
  • FMT - Fecal Microbiota transplant
  • from The Gut: obesity in mice (but not replicated in humans - see Sonnenberg 179 -- but speculates at the end of the chapter that transplant recipients might need to have lean diet also); risk taking / aggression in mice; probiotic study finds neural evidence of change in stress response.
  • from Sonnenbergs: to treat patients with C. difficile. often a problem following broad spectrum antibiotics and hospital stays.
  • problems with FMT: danger in transferring pathogens bt patients.
  • Sonnenbergs, "Eat Shit and Live!"
  • Study of effect of Cipro on microbiota. Dramatic change in composition of bacteria, subjects recovered at various rates. still evidence two months out.
  • Study of mice treated with probiotics. Theory that healthy microbiota doesn't leave resources for bad things like Salmonella. Mechanisms for microbes to influence the immune system. Some microbes have their own defenses against human pathogens. Bacteria can engage in "lateral gene transfer" to speed up responses, but also anti-biotic resistance.
  • Speculative inferences:
  • Might do well to recognize symbiosis and take care of the gut populations.
  • Image of body as fermenter -- we engage in food production and intake to feed a fermentation process. We get frequent information about this process.


Audio from class: [108] [109]

Some claims from the course

  • Food isn't just part of culture; it's primordial culture (and therefore psychologically deep)
  • You are what you eat and what you eat eats. (We are living soil.)
  • I contain multitudes!
  • The restaurant gives us a way of re-imagining communal eating.
  • No civilization has ever managed soil well over a long period of time.
  • Very few people want to farm.
  • The Western Diet (and lifestyle) is a cause of epidemic rates of disease and chronic illness.
  • "Food is Different" -- market forces, food science, regulatory capture, and human craving have unintended consequences when the product is food.