Philosophy of Food Reading Schedule

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SEP 18: 1

  • First Day of Class: See in class notes for details.

SEP 20: 2

  • Focus: These mainstream and well-regarded documentaries will quickly put a critique of the US Food System on the table. Check movie availability. Take some notes on: 1. Facts that you are surprised by, think important, or are suspicious of.; 2. Questions raised by the movie; 3. Claims or thesis that the movie's documentary evidence seems to support. Note segments or narratives. Try to note some names.

SEP 25: 3

  • Gastropod episode, "The End of the Calorie"
  • Andrews, Geoff. Chapter 2: "The Critique of 'Fast Life'" The Slow Food Story (pp. 29-47).
  • Focus: The Gastropod episode will give you alot of information about the way the "calorie" came about as a unit of measurement and the complexity of measuring food energy. Andrews give you an introduction to the Slow Food Movement, which is still very prominent in Italy.

SEP 27: 4

  • Sonnenbergs, C 1, "What is the Microbiota and Why Should I Care?"
  • Recommended: View one of these gut movies:

OCT 2: 5

  • Sonnenbergs, C 5, "Trillions of Mouths to Feed"
  • Recommended: Sonnenbergs, C 7, "Eat Sh*t and Live"
  • Montanari, Massimo. Food is Culture, (1-26).
  • Focus: Montanari takes us quickly into the intersection of history, anthropology, and philosophy of food by situating food as primordial culture.


OCT 4: 6

  • Pollan, Michael. Part 1: "In the Age of Nutritionism," In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (pp. 19-40).
  • Recommended: Diamond, "Agriculture's Mixed Blessings"
  • Montanari, "Fire, Cooking, Cuisine, Civilization" (29-33) from Food is Culture.
  • Focus: Pollan gives us a quick introduction to "nutritionism" -- the idea that food just is nutrition, along with some analysis of the problems of nutrition science and nutrition policy. We'll read the rest of his analysis and recommendations in the first unit of the course.

OCT 9: 7

  • Barber, Dan. Introduction The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food, (1-22).
  • Nestle, "Introduction: The Food Industry and 'Eat More,' from Food Politics", 2013. (1-30).

OCT 11: 8

  • Pollan, Michael. Part 2: The Western Diet (pp. 83-136)

OCT 16: 9

  • Nestle, Marion. Chapter 1: From "Eat More" to "Eat Less" 1900-1990 (pp. 31-50).
  • Nestle, Marion. Chapter 2, Politics Versus Science -- opposing the food pyramind, 1991-1992 (pp. 51-66).


OCT 18: 10

  • Moss, Michael. Chapter 4, "Is it Cereal or Candy," Salt Sugar Fat. (pp. 68-93)
  • Zepeda, Lydia. Carving Values with a Spoon. Food and Philosophy (pp. 31-43).
  • Focus: Zepeda offers a more general reflection on the US Food system than we've had so far. Note the difference between energy-dense and nutrient dense.


OCT 23: 11

  • Pollan, Michael. Part 3: Getting Over Nutritionism: In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (pp. 139-201);
  • Focus: Track Pollan's "eating algorithms"

OCT 25: 12

  • Ethical Diets 1
  • (recommended)Singer, Peter, & Mason, Jim. Chapter 18: "What Should We Eat?" (pp. 270-285): Rodale.
  • Singer, Peter, & Mason, Jim. (2006). Chapter 4: "Meat and Milk Factories," (pp. 42-69).
  • Fischer, Bob, "Arguments for Consuming Animal Products" (241-266) (not for quiz)

OCT 30: 13

  • Nix, Stacy. Chapter 2: "Carbohydrates" Williams' Basic Nutrition and Diet Therapy (pp. 13-30).
  • Moss, Michael. Chapter 11, "No Sugar, No Fats, No Sales," (pp. 236-263).
  • Recommended to browse: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 8th Edition (online)

NOV 6: 14

  • Barber, Dan. The 16.9 Carrot. In H. Hughes (Ed.), Best Food Writing 2014, (185-190)
  • Barber, Dan. Chapter 30: "Bread" (pp. 382-409)

NOV 8: 15

  • Gopnik, Adam, "Who Made the Restaurant?" from The Table Comes First, 2012, (pp. 13-57).

NOV 13: 16

  • Montgomery, David. Chapter 2: "Skin of the Earth" Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations(pp. 9-25);
  • Montgomery, David. Chapter 3: "Rivers of Life" (pp. 27-47)

NOV 15: 17

  • Nix, Stacy. Chapter 3: Fats Williams' Basic Nutrition and Diet Therapy (pp. 31-46);
  • Moss, Michael. Chapter 8, "Liquid Gold," (pp. 161-181)

NOV 27: 18

  • Tannahill, Reay. Chapter 6: Imperial Rome (pp. 71-91)
  • Soler, Jean. "The Semiotics of Food in the Bible"
  • Focus: Soler take us deeper into both the dietary regimes of the Judeo-Christian tradition, as well as some philosophical considerations that might go into choosing a diet based on "trophic level". Chapter 6 tracks the story of wheat and bread technology in the Roman Empire, along with some curiosities like liquamen.

NOV 29: 19

  • Ethical Diets 2
  • McPherson, Tristram. The Ethical Basis for Veganism
  • Alfino, "Report of the Mission to Colony B"

DEC 4: 20

  • Montgomery, David. Chapter 4: "Graveyards of Civilizations" (pp. 49-81)
  • Montgomery, David. Chapter 10: "Life Span of Civilizations" (pp. 233-246)
  • Focus: This chapter expands the soil erosion story by showing how the pattern played out in Meso-America (Tikal Guatamala), Greece, Rome, before coming back to the Mideast and reconnecting with our friend Lowdermilk, who we last saw in China. The chapter finished back in meso-america. The focus here should be on the pattern of behavior that gets repeated throughout history, but also pay attention to the causal links that connect soil erosion to civilization decline. These vary in each situation.

DEC 6: 21

  • Barber, Dan. Chapter 12: "Land" (pp. 158-173)
  • Estabrook, Barry. "Hogonomics" (142-149)

DEC 11: 22

  • Nix, Stacy. Chapter 4: "Proteins" Williams' Basic Nutrition and Diet Therapy (pp. 47-63).
  • Ethical Diets 3
  • Fairlie, Meat: A Benign Extravagance, Chapters 1-2 pp. 1-11.


DEC 13: 23

  • Ethical Diets 3
  • Fairlie, Meat: A Benign Extravagance, Chapters 3-4 pp. 12-43.
  • Chamowitz, pick either Chapter 1, "What a Plant Sees" or Chapter 5, "How a Plant Knows Where It Is" -- come with notes on your chapter.


Extra Readings

  • Donaldson and Kymlicka, Zoopolis, Introduction, p. 1-16.
  • Donaldson and Kymlicka, Zoopolis, Chapter 2, "Universal Basic Rights for Animals," p. 19-49.
  • Nix, Stacy. Chapter 7: "Vitamins" Williams' Basic Nutrition and Diet Therapy (pp. 94-127).
  • Montgomery, David. Chapter 8: "Dirty Business" (pp. 179-215);