Philosophy of Food Spring 2018 Class Notes

From Alfino
Jump to: navigation, search

Contents

JAN 18: 1

  • Course Content: A brief look at the major course research questions.
  • Course mechanics:
  • Websites in this course. alfino.org --> wiki and courses.alfino.org
  • 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, especially some of the old food news.
  • Get the book. Pollan, In Defense of Food
  • Start printing pdfs. Highly recommended.
  • The Prep Cycle -- recommendations for success in the course!
  1. Read - Check out Advice on Reading. Look at last year's class notes for the reading, if available. Be ready for quizes.
  2. Make sure your in-class notes link class notes and problems and issues to readings. This is how you get a high level of information and detail to work with in your thought and expression.
  3. Class -- Our pattern is to consolidate our understanding of the reading and then engage in philosophy on the basis of it. Small group discussion is a training experience. Everything is a training experience.
This is the basic pattern for our coursework. From this cycle we then develop short philosophical writing and position papers using by instructor and peer review.

JAN 23: 2

Food Inc Notes

Fed Up!

JAN 25: 3

Gastrpod, "The End of the Calorie"

  • Antoine Lavasier — Guinea pig in coffee urn - we “burn” food chemically. Change in temperature of water the pig is in. 1st “calorimeter”. Axed in French Rev.
  • Later defined by a german scientists (Favre and Silbermann in 1852 or Mayer in 1848) as: Amount of heat energy to raise 1 gram of water by one degree centigrade from 14.5 to 15.5 at sea level.
  • We still use calorimeters......museum of calorimeters also. Visit to contemporary calorimeter. Converted walk in cooler. Implication that the woman with the sewing machine “made a mess”?
  • Bomb calorimeter. You burn the food. Segment on how it works.
  • Wilbur Atwater. Atwater values. USDA scientist. “Father of nutrition science” (Nestle likes him.). 4,000 food values. Method...omg. Potental energy (bomb cal value) - excretion = value. 4 cal/gram of carb or protein. 9 calories per gram of fat. (7 alcohol).
  • Recent evidence about variability of calorie values — researchers repeating Atwater research, but using additional measures. David Baer and Bill Rumpler both work at the Food Components and Health Laboratory at the USDA-ARS headquarters, in Beltsville, Maryland. Check out Baer and his colleagues' papers on the difference between the calories on the label and those our bodies can extract for almonds and walnuts.b. “The food is free, but you have carry ...”. 5-6% off on tree nuts, 30% on almonds, 21% walnuts,
  • Richard Wrangham is the author of Catching Fire: How cooking made us human. Harvard medical anthropologist. —
  • First to show that cooking changes food to allow earlier digestion (small intestine) and greater calorie recovery. 40% for starch. Also cooked meat, peanuts. All research on mice (and pythons). Still hard to say what the variation will be for us. Maybe 20-40%. What about heat extrusion, also called Food Extrusion? (Used in cereals.). Industrial food might raise calorie levels relative to atwater values. That's a good thing, right? Or is it?
  • Digression on Food Extrusion (based on Sp'17 course):
  • [1]
  • So, if extrusion damages nutrition, what about pasta? Why doesn't it have a high glycemic index like breakfast cereals?
  • "In pasta products, gluten forms a viscoelastic network that surrounds the starch granules, which restricts swelling and leaching during boiling. Pasta extrusion is known to result in products where the starch is slowly digested and absorbed (59,60). Available data on spaghetti also suggest that this product group is a comparatively rich source of resistant starch (61). The slow-release features of starch in pasta probably relates to the continuous glutenous phase. This not only restricts swelling, but possibly also results in a more gradual release of the starch substrate for enzymatic digestion. Pasta is now generally acknowledged as a low glycemic index food suitable in the diabetic diet. However, it should be noted that canning of pasta importantly increases the enzymic availability of starch, and hence the glycemic response (62).[2]
  • Sarah Haley — scientist claiming counting calories didn’t work.
  • CALORIES AND THE GUT MICROBIOME
  • Peter Turnbaugh's lab at the University of California, San Francisco, promises "better living through gut microbes." In our conversation with him, we discussed this study on the effects that transplanting gut microbes from lean and obese twins had on the weight of mice. Further examples of the impact of microbes on energy balance can be found in this paper on one woman's weight gain following a fecal transplant, and this paper on how risperidone is associated with altered gut microbiota and weight gain.
  • microbiota creates variation in calorie capture.
  • 36:45. Sarah Hailey comment.
  • CALORIE REPLACEMENTS?
  • Susan B. Roberts is the creator of the satiety-based "iDiet." She has also done extensive research into the accuracy of calorie counts on menu labels. David Ludwig's book, Always Hungry?, also proposes measuring foods based on their satiety score. Adam Drenowksi's Nutrient-Rich Food Index is explained here.
  • They acknowledge that we don’t have a better standard, but other methods might tell us more.
  • DAVID WISHART AND METABOLOMICSDavid Wishart's research group is based at the University of Alberta. You can check out the Human Metabolome Project Database online here. And the Israeli study on personalized nutrition based on individual glycemic responses is available online here.
  • WHY THE CALORIE IS BROKEN
  • We wrote a feature article for Mosaic, the online publication of the Wellcome Trust, to accompany this episode. You can read it online here.
  • THE CHEMICAL DEFINITION OF THE CALORIE
  • In the episode, we say that a calorie is the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree centigrade, from 14.5º to 15.5º, at one unit of atmospheric pressure. This is accurate, but it is misleading, because throughout the rest of the episode, we are discussing a different kind of calorie—the kilocalorie, which is the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree centigrade. The kilocalorie is the number we see on our food labels and recommended daily allowances, but no one other than chemists actually calls it the kilocalorie. Instead, it has been shortened to "calorie" on labels and in everyday usage. Throughout our episode, we follow common practice by calling a kilocalorie a calorie, but then we mistakenly gave the definition of a true calorie without noting the difference. We apologize for any confusion!
  • The University of Alberta's David Wishart offers us a glimpse of the future, in which truly personalized nutrition advice will evolve from the emerging science of how the chemicals in our bodies interact with all the different chemicals in the food we eat. And Susan Roberts, director of the energy metabolism laboratory at the Tufts USDA nutrition center, suggests an alternative unit as a replacement for the traditional calorie.

-

Groopman, Jerome, "Is Fat Killing You, Or is Sugar?"

  • the author, a medical doctor, start with 1960's cholesterol culture in US and his own experience with diet and statins to change his levels.
  • Fat is back -- oils and nuts are good again, Atkins and paleo diets (ketosis diets) make health claims. But looking at a study underlying one of these claims for the med diet, one finds the significance of the science overstated.
  • The article uses a review of two books to make some points about the connection between nutrition science and dietary advice.
  • Sylvia Taylor, Secret Life of Fat
  • Gary Taubes, The Case Against Sugar
  • Digest of Taylor's case: You need fat in your body to metabolize many vitamins, to signal regulatory mechanisms for appetite (leptin). Every neuron in your brain is sheathed in a lipid. She also espouses an inflammation theory of obesity. Groopman is critical of the quality research here. There is no easy dietary advice that follows from understanding lipids. (But note that it could still be helpful in training our intuitions against simplistic dietary advice!)
  • cites historical models for "moral diets" like Brillat-Savarin, Graham, Fletcher....(We will read more about these characters.)
  • Wibur Atwater -- still a census: Calories matter.
  • Post WW2 AMA declares obsesity a major health problem. Ancel Keys -- Promoted low fat, low unsaturated fat diet, such as Med. Diet.
  • traces Taubes early food journalism, "What is Its all a Big Fat Lie?" 2007: Good Calories, Bad Calories. Taubs 1. makes strong claims for sugar as the "culprit" in the Western Diet and 2. tells the Big Sugar political story, e.g. "the food industry has systematically tried to obstruct scientific research that exposes the dangers of sugar, just as tobacco companies tried to hide the risks of smoking." (note that Groopman agrees with the latter claim.)
  • traces history of sugar industry effort to refute the claim that is is an "empty calorie" (makes a food calorie dense)
  • research funding history, research funding wars.
  • Groopman claims that Taubes overstates the evidence for sugar as a single cause. Follows his somewhat unscientific reasoning. He lumps lots of very different diseases together. The analogy between tobacco and sugar doesn't carry over to the molecular level. (Note: This does not mean that glycemic response is not an important area of recent research, just that it can't be recruited in this fashion.)
  • Note his closing critique of diet books: oversimplification, overreliance on macronutrient theories, or behavioral tricks. Meta-research on diets undermines their efficacy.
  • (To the extent that diet books are effective, it's because their advice overlaps to some degree with mainstream advice. The "trick" in the diet isn't what's effective.)

JAN 30: 4

Microbiome Movie Notes

Montgomery, David and anne Bilke, "What Your Microbiome Wants for Dinner"

  • Digestion Basics
  • good introduction to digestion.
  • inverse relation between complexity of the food molecule and how far it continues to contribute to digestion as it moves through the tube.
  • note distinct environments of the tract and their respective "ecologies" - 7 quarts of fluids through small intestine.
  • genomic "division of labor" -- our genes code for 20 enzymes to break down complex carbs but our bacterial guests code for 260 enzymes for that purpose.
  • Microbiota (M) like a pharmacy.
  • Grain Wreck
  • Chemistry of Typical cereal crop seed --
  • Note that you lose the fats in the grain to stabilize it for production purposes. Fats go rancid. Also, white bread is sweet to the taste. Because it's already breaking down into sugars (simpler carbs) even in your mouth.
  • historical point: total carb consumption stable over 20th c US, but types of carbs changed. Whole grains and rate of sugar absorbtion (tracked by "glycemic index")
  • Meat
  • Protein Putrefication (Does this happen alot?) - compounds produced by undigested meat in large intestine interferes with butyrate production -- important for general colonic health. Thinning of bacterial density leaves openning for pathogens and physical damage.
  • High fat diets can lead to higher rates of bile in the large intestine, which it doesn't handle well. secondary bile acids.
  • Needn't be a general health argument against meat, but he acknowledges some legitimate health advantages to a vegetarian diet. Point is that cereal fermentation might be part of the process that helps us tolerate the protein putrefication and excess bile of meat and fat.
  • espouses what I'm calling the "consensus healthy diet" - movement away from industrial processed food.

Sonnenbergs, C 1, "What is the Microbiota and Why Should I Care?"

  • How the world looks to a microbiologist! "Without microbes humans wouldn't exist, but if we all disappeared, few of them would notice." 10
  • Introduction to the Tube and digestion
  • Microbiota Case against the Western Diet
  • Sets the history of human diet in context. Agriculture already a big change, but then industrial ag / industrial foods
  • Adaptability of M remarkable. Makes us omnivores.
  • Baseline M - cant' be health Western Diet eaters. studies of groups like Hadza -- far more diverse.
  • 19 - Evolved Symbiotic relationship between us and bacteria --
  • types of symbiotic relationship - parasitic, commensal (one party benefits, little or no effect on the other), mutualism.
  • The heart warming story of Tremblaya princeps and Moranella endobia. (21) -- why we should be happy mutualists. Delegation and division of labor might create resiliance.
  • 22-30 - Cultural History and History of Science on Bacteria
  • The Great Stink 1858 London, Miasma theory disproved, Cholera bacterium, not isolated until near end of century. Dr. Robert Koch.
  • 60-70's: Abaigail Salyers: early pioneer, 2008: Human Microbiome Project
  • Contemporary research: gnotobiotic mice. early fecal transplant studies of [Dr. Jeffrey Gordon].

Philosophical Implications of the Microbiome

  • The Microbiome research we are reading seems to have implications for the following course research questions:
  • 1. What is food?
  • 5. What are the challenges of nutrition science as a field of knowledge and what is the state of knowledge about nutrition, broadly?
  • 6. What is a nutritious diet?
  • 10. How should I critically assess my own food practices in light of my understanding of the nature of food and food culture?
Here are some possible theoretical claims for you to evaluate in terms of their plausibility and their own implications:
  • Your food doesn't just feed you.
  • Your food doesn't just nourish you, it also supplies a pharmacy in your gut. These effects cut across the health spectrum and life span.
  • You exist as a distinct organism, but you cannot survive outside of the symbiotic relationships you have with bacteria and other organisms that call you home.
  • Mental health is influenced by the health of our M.
  • We have co-evolved with our Microbiome.
  • The interic nervous system is an ecology.
  • Some of the requirements of industrial food production are at odds with the requirements of a health Microbiome.
  • In small group discussion, consider how information about the Microbiome might change your approach to questions like "What is Food?" Then look over the proposed philosophical implications above. Are they too strong? Warranted? Do you have sceptical doubts about using this research to alter your view of these research questions?

FEB 1: 5

Sonnenbergs, C 5, "Trillions of Mouths to Feed"

  • Microbiota extinction -- not just from change in foods, less fermented foods, more sterile food and sterile environments. pets help with our microbiota.
  • Microbiota mechanisms:
  • direct response to diet, "recyclers",
  • life is hard for our M germs: no oxygen down there and transit time is fast. So they make SCFAs that can metabolize in the blood stream where there is oxygen.
  • Why feed the gut? Isn't that just more calories? (116) - No. people with high scfa diets lose weight, decrease inflammation, Western diet diseases.
  • History of research -- field doctors: Thomas Cleave, 70s "The Saccharine Disease" "Bran Man"; Denis Burkitt studies comparing Western and Africans on fiber, stool quality, and health.
  • Carb chemistry/metabolism basics -- 120: also in our nutrition textbook chapters. Note unique types of saccharides in particular foods: read 121 and 126; insulin resistance.
  • Measuring MACs - the authors acronym for Macrobiotically Available Carbohydrates. - no standard measure of dietary fiber (note discrepancies from above.)
  • RDAs: 29/38 grams. Actual 15 grams/day.
  • research discovering enzyme in nori, a seaweed based sushi wrapper: found in Japanese guts. Helps digest fish. Note: Terrior. Local adaptation of the M.
  • research on rich and poor. richness of M better predictor of disease than obesity.
  • Gordon's famous FMT mouse research: need M and M-supporting diet.
  • what's wrong with refined cereal seeds (130) (like Montgomery's account). Wheat bread vs. Wheat berries. The form of the food matters to the fiber count.
  • What about the Inuit?
  • What about excess gas?

Sonnenbergs, C 7, "Eat Sh*t and Live"

  • This chapter is more focused on diseases that have been treatable with new knowledge about the M, and the limits of that research currently.
  • Gastroenteritis, infectious diarrhea, -- culprits like Giardia, Salmonella, and norovirus.
  • Immunological effects of the M: "colonization resistance" - mechanisms (165) - crowding out, bacteriocidal chemicals. Problematic nature of antibiotics in the M.
  • C. difficile (Cdiff) -- associated disease CDAD. why antibiotics don't always help. spores.
  • 2013 Dutch FMT therapy for CDAD - 94% cure rate (note earlier researcher in 50s who tried this.)
  • Antibiotics -- Interesting that Americans not only eat the Western Diet, but take high levels of antibiotics. Effects of Cipro on M. -- decrease in volume (-10-100x) and diversity of bacteria (25-50% of species). Test subject had diverse responses. Some recovered M in several weeks. Some sustained damage. 2nd round of Cipro hurt everyone's M.
  • IBS and IBD - 177:
  • Difficulties with FMT as a therapy: dangers in introducing new bacteria into someone's gut. Might be hard to remove. (Like issue of releasing GMOs in environment.)
  • Limited results from FMT in humans for obesity treatment. or inflammatory bowel disease.

Some implications of Microbiome research

  • The form of the food you eat partly determines the kinds of nutrition you can get from it.
  • Nutritional information about the food is incomplete for assessing potential nutrition from the food.
  • Which part of you eats the food affects what kind of nutrition (and other benefits) you receive from it.

FEB 6: 6

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: Western Diet defined. Four of the top ten causes of death today are chronic diseases with well-established links to diet: coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. Even after adjusting for longevity. Note: You could define it epidemiologically or in terms of principle traits.
  • 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.
  • McGovern Committee: important ideological moment: 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, good foods reduced to 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 food 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 re-engineered. Some of that can be done with animals by feeding them differently, but mostly this favors industrial food over whole foods. Note on taste of leaner corn-fed beef. Arguably a decrease in satisfaction.

Group Writing Exercise

  • What is nutritionism? Does it makes sense to say that it contributes to an ideology about food? Express both majority and minority views from your group. 300 words.


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.
  • Original text in "bio-history".

Diamond, Ch. 10, "Agriculture's Mixed Blessings"

  • Old "progressivist" view
  • Ants practice agriculture and something like animal husbandry
  • Details about the spread of agriculture
  • Advantages of hunter gatherer lifestyle
  • short work week, more leisure
  • better nutrition (in some comparisons)
  • no impact from crop failures
  • paleopathology: what you tell from old bones and cookware
  • health evidence from early adoption of agriculture
  • height, nutrition, cavities, anemia, tb, syphillis, mortality
  • low carb, varied nutrients
  • class structures emerge after agriculture: diff outcomes dep. on class
  • sexual inequality
  • other differences that sustained agriculture
  • increased population density made hunt/gather politically vulnerable
  • hunt/gather requires lots of room
  • agriculture created society that could produce sophisticated art (churches).
  • grants that agriculture led to lots of great things, but also to large populations, which affects the equation about quality of life.

FEB 8: 7

Two famous restaurants started by Chef/food activits.

Barber, "Intro and Ch 12"

  • Story of Eight Row flint corn at Blue Hills. sig. "varietal restoration" "heritage cultivation"
  • Story of the summer of corn at Blue Hills Farm when Barber was a kid. Note diffs.
  • 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" -- (another side of industrial food, esp. for a chef, is the effect of varieties and production methods on flavor).
  • chef as activist (p. 10 reference to Paul Bocuse) -- Wolfgang Puck -- eventually industrial food system produces a version of the chef's innovation.
  • p. 11ff: Barber's critique of farm to table and the 1st and 2nd plates. Criticizing the way we eat: protein-centric plate, small side of veg Protein consumption per capita by country
  • Some detail on Blue Hills.
  • lamb chop story-- Problem: farm serving table. Table is still in charge of the plate. "cherry picking ingredients that are often ecologically demanding and expensive to grow" So, eliminate the menu! p.14 top of 15. Note characterization of American cuisine vs. French and Italian. No peasant heritage to base it on. Am: immoderation, big slabs of meat.
  • 1st, 2nd, 3rd plates 17. Claim: "The future of cuisine will represent a paradigm shift, a new way of thinking about cooking and eating that defies Americans' ingrained expectations." 18
  • The food "supply chain" is an ecology. The implication is that we can assess it in terms of sustainability, flavor, quality, diversity...etc.


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.

FEB 13: 8

Short Writing Assignment: 400 words

  • Please write a 400 word maximum answer to the following question by midnight Friday, February 16, 2018:
  • In light of our course readings to date, how do you approach the problem of defining "food"? What is food, in your opinion, and what do we need to consider in offering a definition? Please review the Assignment Rubric as you think about how to construct your answer.
  • Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way:
  1. Do not put your name in the file or filename. You may put your student id number in the file. If possible put your word count in the file.
  2. Format your answer in double spaced text in a 12 point font.
  3. Save the file in the ".docx" file format using the file name "SW1".
  4. Log in to courses.alfino.org. Upload your file to the Q&W dropbox.

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. Documented nutrient decline in foods. (Think about this in terms of diet. You get a larger variety of X fruit or veg with less nutrition, but it's cheaper. Problem is that you have a limited volume of food intake, so you lose value in the end and possibly compromise nutrition.) 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.
  • conclusion: there may be a false economy in industrial food production. varietals, soil, diversity of food have values that are lost in assessing costs at the retail level and without this knowledge.
  • 3. Quality to Quantity
  • decline in nutrient content (118-119: review), "nutritional inflation," 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 (bio-accumulation). some evidence that organic plants have chemicals related to immune responses.
  • "overfed and undernurished"
  • cites Bruce Ames, serious researcher interest in micronutrition and cancer. Interesting theory (unproven) that "satiety" mechanisms are tied to nutrition such that a malnurished body always feels hungry.
  • 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 lipidphobia led us to shift to seed oils (give up butter --which has some 03 fats and move to corn -- which is high in 06 fats) and that led to a 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).

FEB 15: 9

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."
  • Note opening picture of food industry: overproduction, connection to publicly traded companies creates need to sell more. [What is relationship between ownership type and production, capitalization, industrialization? Digress to woofing. More traditional farm structure might focus on sustaining real income rather than meeting investor expectations.]
  • On the other hand, this model worked well to meet nutritional deficits that continued well into the 20th century for many americans.
  • historic note: early 20th century still battled nutritional disease from inadequate calorie intake. Then shift to overconsumption.
  • 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. Could say "eat less sat. fat". (Note nutritionism.)
  • Side note: "New Dietary Guidelines Crack down on Sugar but red meat gets a pass," NPR Jan 7, 2016 [3]
  • 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 (3200 in '70 to 3900 in the 90's), 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. (Note: Not just more protein. More of everything! Revise our protein hyp.)
  • 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)
  • Follow data: size of industry, timeline of tobacco company purchases of industry. Farm value vs. Marketing of industrial food. p. 18. Stop to consider explanations.
  • Social trends: female labor market participation, changes in perception of "cooking". Scratch cooking associated more with sub-cultures.


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

  • this reading gives more detail to the argument as summarized in the Intro. You could say that we are the victims of an industry that succeeded too well!
  • 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. (connect this discussion to Pollan, 40-50)
  • 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".
  • Some inferences from Nestle's narrative: We have had the food politics that you would expect from the historical and social conditions of our culture. The historical conditions of malnurishment and insecure food supplies, along with economic organizations that are motivated to increase profit and production gave us a kind of momentum that produced food in abundance. But it was hard for the political system, having developed political and institutional systems of support for increasing production of food products to transition to a world in which the best nutritional advice was to tell people to eat less of many kinds of foods.

FEB 20: 10

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. Meat and Dairy did not appreciate being "narrowed" in the pyramid. She highlights the USDA mandate (over HEW) 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. [4]. Compare to current US Dietary Guidelines for 2015-2020. [5] [6]
  • 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.

Small Group Discussion

  • Considering this political history, what part of government should have responsibility for informing the public about diet and health?
  • Review the various ways of picturing a healthy diet including some of the other governments' approaches and "My Plate" (see Guidelines or [7])
  • Should we try to represent a healthy diet in a picture, heuristics (Pollan, for example), or just text? Come up with your own food heuristics or image-ideas.

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

  • John Harvey Kellog vs. Will Kellog. Drama at Battle Creek Michigan.
  • note early ad claims by Post for Grape-Nuts and Postum -- shows something about food psychology and tendency to fad diets.
  • $660 million to $4.4 billion 1970 to mid 80s.
  • 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. urged moving cereals over 50% sugar to the candy aisle.
  • note nomenclature issue in the public policy discussion: breakfast cereals v. breakfast foods. who cares?
  • 76: Key theoretical claim: The breakfast cereal industry responded to concern over sugar in part by developing market campaign to children and by putting marketing in charge of product development (85)
  • 76ff: political story of sugar in 1977 -- FTC over responds to concern about marketing of cereals to kids by banning all advertising to kids. battle between advertising lobby and FTC. advertising ban failed. Washington Post labels it "the National Nanny". role of gov't issue. "social engineering". still, FTC report was credible and damning on the topic of advertising sugar to kids. note the industry documents showing the industry's effort to "engineer" their consumer.
  • 2/3 price of the cereal is in the advertising (!).
  • 1990's competition from store brands -- 82ff: note value of minute market share movements. "product news" - continual change in marketing. Kellog is losing out at one point, Moss finishes chapter with their strategic response: concept of "permission" (when a taste is close enough for the consumer to say that had an experience of a real thing through the taste, example: the taste of rice crispy treats in a cereal. "We didn't have to be literal. We just had to have the flavor spot on." (87)
  • Key theme from Kellog's market share loss: This is a real crisis for a food company. 87ff. CinnaMon/Bad appple campaign
  • odd twist - the "Cinnamon" and "bad apple" commercials. [[8]]
  • Frosted Mini-Wheats became "brain food". fraudulent research. 91-92 Commercial in this NPR story Also, check out these oldies. [9]
  • Kellogg even tried comparing kids who ate Mini-Wheats to kids who skipped breakfast!
  • Interesting. You could argue that we entered a "post truth" era in the food industry before politics.

FEB 22: 11

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). (Interesting to note how much smaller a food store can be without so much industrial food.)
  • Sara Lee's Soft & Smooth Whole Grain White Bread --- Know when you are looking at gibberish.
  • (With plausible claims, ask whether there are any rules governing the claim. Not so much with "whole wheat" in industrial context.)
  • Qualified health claims. [10] Someone might look into this.
  • Chapter 3: Mostly Plants, especially leaves.
  • 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.
  • Chapter 4: How to Eat
  • European food culture: behaviors -
  • Pay More, Eat Less - not just trade offs, but actually asserting control of amounts.
  • Is save meal prep time a false convenience? economist study using concept of "time cost" of eating. Microwaves reduce that, for example.
  • Eat Meals vs. "continuous eating" (some issues here: family units don't characterize your part of the life span at the moment. Ideas?)
  • Some things to add to Pollan's list:
  • make ingredient "trade-ups" - fresh bread for factory, 50cent eggs for 11cent eggs, grass fed whole milk and butter.
  • potato chips comparison: Lay's vs. Kettle Brand
  • some mindful eating concepts: preparing to make food, attending to making food, savoring food. Attend to the eating space, light a 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 Discussion

  • 1. Using the continuum we developed between "Ultra-industrial and Ultra-Organic/Saporific locate some of your favorite foods. Where are they on the scale? Which ones could you imagine "trading up" in cost and quality? Compare with others in the group?
  • 2. Recall a time when you or a group of friends or family last made a "big deal" out of eating a meal together? Was that part also satisfying? Why? How do the satisfactions of a meal with others compare to those of eating alone? What do you or might you do to make a "big deal" out of eating alone? Is treating food as sacred going too far?
  • 3. Evaluate Pollan's "Pay more, eat less" advice in the context of our discussions of "food value" and monthly food budgets. Does it make sense?

Zepeda, Lydia, "Carving Values with a Spoon"

  • Zepeda gives us a great example of philosophy of food writing that addresses many of the kinds of issues we have identified in the course so far. Note how she moves us off a "binary" of "consumer responsibility" vs. "regulatory state"
  • 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. (note her point that we are using public money to do this. In a way, the opposite of a Nanny state might be one in which corporations maximize profit from food by degrading the quality of food.)
  • some stats: food away from home up to 42% of food expenditures. 2004.
  • national policy and cultural values influence by pioneer experience (p. 36), 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.
  • Eating in the New Millenium - focus on palette and how we spend our time.
  • 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 Plan: 70-90 minutes.
  • wages in the food and restaurant industry are among the lowest.

FEB 27: 12

Advising Omnivores: Some thoughts on the Dietary Guidelines

  • Defer assessment of the Guidelines until after small group work. Just some general comments on the document.
  • From our study, we can see the document from a number of angles
  • Latest product of a political process started in 70's - Some movement from status quo toward public health, incremental increases in strength of nutritional advice. Limits (discuss later.)
  • Ongoing compromise between government agencies -- Status quo.
  • Response to epidemiology of dietary disease -- How might this document look different if it were not responding to dietary disease?
  • What does it mean to give dietary advice to omnivores that were fed on and partially adapted to traditional diets? Sami, the Faroese (The Islands and the Whales).
some points: traditional diets not always healthy, tacit dietary knowledge (compare hunter gatherers knowledge of edible plants/animals to ours), keytosis.
  • Should we use nutritional knowledge to get back to an intuitive understanding of food? Are Dietary Guidelines and My Fitness Pal more research tools for your diet than ongoing necessary guides? What do you need from dietary advice after you have a good diet? Are you still in the audience for dietary guidelines or do you move on!
  • analogy to other kinds of advice --- ethical diets

Study Questions for Discussion of Dietary Guidelines

  • We will use your answers to some of the following questions in class. Please make notes for each question so that you can efficiently share your impressions in small group and class discussion.
  • 1. What are some of the key terms the Dietary Guidelines (DGs) use to introduce their approach the task of giving dietary advice?
  • 2. Why are there subcategories of Vegetables? (Dark Green, Red & Orange, Legumes, Starchy)
  • 3. Are the DGs successful in conveying serving information in your opinion?
  • 4. Pick one text box that provided either information or advice that you were not aware of.
  • 5. Were you able to use Chapter 2 to identify places in which you need to make a "healthy shift"?
  • 6. Were you able to locate your eating patterns in relation to the normative data (comparing actual average intake and recommended) in Chapter 2? Was that a surprise? Informative?
  • 7. What did you think about Chapter 3 and the My Plate approach? Would it stand on its own?

MAR 1: 13

Some initial remarks on ethical diets and animal ethics

  • Unfortunate tendency in ethical diet discussions to be very categorical and binary. All or nothing. There are categorical ethical arguments about diet, but we won't start with them.
  • The Bike Analogy and levels of moral appraisal. Animal ethics information is a bit like climate change ethics information. There may be choices that are ethically admirable, but not universally obligatory. Joke about vegan at the party. Consider the conversational ethics of these cases.
  • Some background. Two famous books: Peter Singer's Animal Liberation (1975) and Tom Regan's The Case for Animal Rights (1983) -- ethical extensionism. Set many of the terms of discourse for discussion of animal ethics.
  • Singer's focus is on industrial animal suffering, but many generalize it to a categorical exclusion of eating sentient animals. Some open questions about suffering.
  • Regan is focused on a Kantian argument that applies to all animals that are "subjects-of-a life," which includes beliefs, desires, memory, anticipation of future, etc. Such animals have inherent value and hence are candidates for rights. Some open questions about positive vs. negative rights. Look at Zoopolis for contemporary work.
  • Historical vegetarianisms tend to offer categorical reasons for abstaining from meat: ancient vegetarians (Ovid, Plutarch, Pythagora, Porphyry), shame campaigns - Oswald (the original bambi story, diet claims: Sylvester Graham (Christian/Veg fusion), John Harvey Kellogg (7th Day Aventist/health claims), some modern theories. China Study.
  • Current research project: Ethical Diets and Animals Ethics -- Beyond Exetensionism. Just under contract with Springer. Call for papers. Open to animal permaculture arguments and frameworks that approach the topics without strict binaries about meat. Problem is more complex that early arguments suggest. Plant sentience (What a Plant Knows) and animal permaculture (Simon Fairlie, Meat: A Benign Extravagance.)

Thought experiment: Report of the Mission to Colony B

  • Note on thought experiments: heuristic vs. argumentative (usually reductio). This is meant as heuristic. All of the options at the end are "live" options.
  • Thought experiments routinely use fantastic scenarios. In addition to working out your response to the problem, you can object to the thought experiment itself.
  • Small group discussion.
  • Topic areas for Ethical Diets
  • General factors:
  • basic animal welfare,
  • allowing room and opportunity for "natural behaviors",
  • "retiring" non-food animals,
  • sustainability,
  • breeding against health (chickens and dairy cows)
  • industrial animal production often involves environmental externalities (pollution).
  • 1. Beef production.
  • 2. Dairy cows.
  • 3. Poultry production.
  • 4. Egg production.
  • 5. Fishing - wild and farmed
  • 6. Pigs
  • 7. Just Food -- justice issues in agriculture and supply chain.

Age of Slaughter vs. Natural Life Span

  • Note that the more symmetrically you see animal and human interests, the more likely this information is to be problematic.
  • Pigs: Slaughtered at 6 months young; Natural life span: 6 to 10 years
  • Chickens: Slaughtered at 6 weeks young; Natural life span: 5 to 8 years for those birds bred as "egg layers" such as Rhode Island Reds; 1 to 4 years for factory layer breeds such as leghorns; and 1 to 3 years for "meat" breeds.
  • Turkeys: Slaughtered at 5 to 6 months young; Natural life span: 2 to 6 years
  • Ducks/Geese: Slaughtered at 7 to 8 weeks young; Natural life span: domestic ducks: 6 to 8 years; geese from 8 to 15 years.
  • Cattle: “Beef” cattle slaughtered at 18 months young; dairy cows slaughtered at 4 to 5 years young; Natural life span: 18 to 25+ years
  • Veal Calves: Slaughtered at 16 weeks young; Natural life span: 18 to 25+ years
  • Goats: Slaughtered at 3 to 5 months young; Natural life span: 12 to 14 years
  • Rabbits: Slaughtered at 10 to 12 weeks young; Natural life span: 8 to 12+ years
  • Lambs: Slaughtered at 6 to 8 weeks young for “young lamb” and under 1 year for all other; Natural life span: 12 to 14 years
  • Horses/Donkeys: Slaughter age varies; Natural life span: 30 to 40 years

MAR 6: 14

  • In connection with our study of Carbohydrates today, we will be analyzing this commercial.

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 [[11]] 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.)
  • As we learned earlier in the term, you can 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.
  • Two practical take aways:
  • Calculating Carb amounts for your diet and noticing carb types and values in your diet.
  • Understanding carb related advertising and health claims.

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.

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.

MAR 8: 15

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 [[12]]
  • 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" or "shallow organic" carrots from Mexico -- 0 Brax. But also note the point about "terroir" at the end of the essay.

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]

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. Story of Flvr Savr Calgene's gmo industrial tomato. discontinued.
  • Background on Land grant breeeding programs. 1862, with USDA, experiment station, extension 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. Claim of 50% more calcium, iron, and zinc.
  • Jones wants to move beyond heirloom varieties. Still ways to improve and diversify strains.

MAR 20: 16

Welcome back small group discussion

  • Please considering sharing some stories about your families approach to restaurants as you were growing up. Did your grandparents have the same or different attitudes? How do restaurants figure in your celebrations and your personal social life as an adult.

Retronasal Smell

Gopnik, Adam, "Who Made the Restaurant?" (13-57)

  • from The Table Comes First
  • 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. women could go together in public (!). Another early restauranteur, Vacossion, focused on simple foods that individuals could not source themselves. "nouvelle cuisine"
  • French Revolution actually problematic for the early restaurant -- communalism of the table d'hote more suited to egalitarianism.
  • 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) -- not how this changes the motivations of restauranteurs. (Wealth of Nations, 1776, just saying.)
  • Part two of the chapter: The French Cafe: 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. (Digress to consider how we handle this now and in different places.) note Paris / London comparisons p. 33.
  • 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. analogy to the pleasure of flirtation, which he also claimed was a french invention (!). "Soft power" (mention slow food, also a political movement).
  • rival, Grimod La Reyniere -- real foodie, spent the revolution eating great food, somewhat abstracted. rated restaurants and gave them stickers for their windows. the discussion here suggests how the vocabulary of the French gastronomic moment developed.
  • 54: Habermas' theory about "Enlightenment eating" -- creates social capital. Issue at the end: Is the restaurant a bourgeoisie trap or an instrument of enlightenment?

MAR 22: 17

Montgomery, Chapters 2 and 3, "Dirt"

Chapter 2, "Skin of the Earth"

  • 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, "Rivers of Life"

  • 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 some evidence that we ate 'em [13]),
  • 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
  • Human Evolution Timeline
  • 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. problem with cultural evolution theory -- not everyone adopted ag (though in other examples, like hand axes, everyone does adopt).
  • 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 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. And, everyone has messed it up eventually, even the Egyptians.

MAR 27: 18

Some discussion of CIS learning outcomes

1. Integrate the principles of a Jesuit education, prior components of the Core, and their disciplinary expertise (knowledge).
  • Assess the extent to which you see an integration of these things. Is our study of food helping you integrate these things?
2. 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).
  • Here, I think our study of food has been sensitive to the way education, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity enter into the problem of critical food studies. Not sure what opportunities we have for communicating with a more diverse audience than we are.
3. Assess the ways in which the Core has transformed the commitments and perspectives that will inform their future endeavors (attitude).
  • Assess the extent to which you think the Core has done this. How has or how can our study of food
  • Some resources:

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. (Is that a real value or just an old way of doing something?). note 167.
  • Cheese in US food economy
  • anti-fat campaign of 80s led to overproduction of milkfat ("Cows can't make skim milk" - maybe a clue that something's backwards), 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 to promote milk consumption. Note the gastronomy segement 171-172 - ex Kraft cheese expert Brookmann.
  • Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • "sliced" didn't work. spreading is part of the fun, but also suppresses serving size information. p. 174: no bliss point for fat.
  • Kraft Mac & Cheese. Nutritional profile doesn't look bad [14], but check out this comparison [15]
  • 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.

MAR 29: 19

Short Writing Assignment: 800 words

  • Stage 1: Please write an 800 word maximum answer to one of the following question by Thursday, April 5th, 2018, 11:59pm.
  • Topic A: Why is it so hard to determine the value of food(s)? Consider the different ways that food(s) can by valued (nutrition, cost, quality, subjective meaning) in formulating your answer. Have you found any useful approaches to solving this problem?
  • Topic B: We have developed a considerable critique of industrial food in this course. What are the main problems with industrial foods? What are some good things about industrial foods? On the basis of your studies, what advice would you offer someone about how to assess the value of industrial foods?
  • Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way:
  1. Do not put your name in the file or filename. You may put your student id number in the file. If possible put your word count in the file.
  2. Format your answer in double spaced text in a 12 point font.
  3. Save the file in the ".docx" file format using the file name "SW2-A" (for topic A) or "SW2-B" (for topic B).
  4. Log in to courses.alfino.org. Upload your file to the Q&W dropbox.
  • Stage 2: Please evaluate four student answers and provide brief comments and a score. Review the Assignment Rubric for this exercise. Complete your evaluations and scoring by Thursday, April 12.
  • Use this Google Form to evaluate four peer papers. The papers will be in our shared folder, but please do not edit or add comments to the papers directly. This will compromise your anonymity.
  • To determine the papers you need to peer review, I will send you a key with animal names in alphabetically order, along with saint names and a topic identifier. You will find your animal name and review the next four (4) animals' work on your topic.
  • Some papers may arrive late. If you are in line to review a missing paper, allow a day or two for it to show up. If it does not show up, go ahead and review enough papers to get to four reviews. This assures that you will get enough "back evaluations" of your work to get a good average for your peer review credit. (You will also have an opportunity to challenge a back evaluation score of your reviewing that is out of line with the others.)
  • Stage 3: Back-evaluation: After you receive your peer comments and evaluation back, take a few minutes to fill out this quick "back evaluation" rating form: [16]. Fill out the form for each reviewer. Up to 10 points, in Q&W.
  • Back evaluations are due April 16, 11:59pm.
  • Stage 4: I will grade and briefly comment on your writing using the peer scores as an initial ranking. Assuming the process works normally, I will give you the higher of the two grades. Up to 28 points in Q&W.

Nix, Chapter 3, "Fats"

  • Nature of
  • C, H, O -- note that Carbs are different arrangements of these.
  • 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)
  • visible: 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 essential fatty acids.
  • 34: diet of less than 10% calories from fat not consistent with health.
  • 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.
  • 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 [17] compared to red meat [18] or chicken [19]
  • 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

APR 3: 20

Tannahill, ch 6, "Imperial Rome"

  • the Annona --
  • the Roman bread dole: "bread and circus" - first grain, then bread. 14 million bushels a year. 38,000/day. Other foods included.
  • Roman eventually controls all of the wheat growing land in it's expanded empire.
  • Note, this was all for Rome. Everyone else was relying on local food economy.
  • Tech & Roman food supply chain
  • dev. in ships. order of mag efficiency.
  • dev. in milling
  • "quern" -- (1 for every 10 soliders!)
  • Roman Food meanings
  • Butter eaters - barbarians
  • Roman Banquet - expression of power. note arrangements. Political eating -- Digression: What is implied in sharing a meal with someone? Ideal size for banquet 9. Greeks 5.
  • Read some menu items, p. 81
  • 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. 81
  • 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. Importance of spices globally in developing the gastronomy of carb based diets.

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

  • Background thesis: link between diet and view of the world. Some theoretical nods to Levi-Strauss (see his work, "The Raw and the Cooked")
  • This is one of the source articles for Tanahill's chapter. Soler gives more detail about the transitions through "three plates" of Judaism:
  • 1st plate: Biblical vegetarianism -- God gave us plants and seeds to eat. (soul not immortal till 2nd cent bc, external concept) Paradise was vegetarian.
  • 2nd plate: Post-flood, covenant with Noah: eat anything but not "flesh with its life" (still, meat has negative connotation, concession to imperfection in man)
  • 3rd plate: 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. food of the patriarchs.
  • 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 (Mark 7:19). "Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mough, this defiles a mon" (Matthew 15:11). Peter's vision of being commanded to eat clean and unclean animals. Goes with a theology of Christ, fusion of man/god. Also, an evangelizing religion cannot really focus on dietary exclusions. Consuming the blood and flesh of God become part of a sacrament.
  • 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. [21]
  • Discussion directions:
  • How does food function metaphysically, strategically, and socially in relation to JCI culture?
  • Do contemporary food philosophies also involve these semiotic functions?

APR 5: 21

Montgomery, Chapter 4, "Graveyards of Empires"

  • Thesis: Soil degradation doesn't directly cause declines in civilization, but makes civilizations more vulnerable to "hostile neighbors, internal sociopolitical disruption, and harsh winters or droughts."
  • Tikal (Guatamala) - Meso-American (Mayan, in this case) civilization reclaimed by the jungle. 1840s re-discovery. (returns to this at the end).
  • Ancient Greece
  • (In this section, he implies that we tell "false histories" of ancient agriculturalists when we imagine that they took care of their soil.)
  • 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 (2017), 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. p. 54: 1,000 year cycle of soil erosion / pop density decline.
  • 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. (Note: In light of climate change, food security (or price stability) might become a greater concern.)
  • Roughly 5,000 to 4,000 bc.: agriculture introduced to Italian pennisula by immigrants.
  • 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 Cato brought plump figs from Carthage to the Senate floor, arguing that Carthage was a threat to Rome because of its food productivity. Ended all his speeches with "Carthage must be destroyed." Third Punic War took care of that. Roman model become colonial system of agriculture around N. Africa and Sicily. Pliny the Elder (23-79ad)
  • Varo, De re Rustica, 117bc, focused on intensive high yield ag for the times.
  • 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 before the Via Cassia was built, 1"per 200 years after.
  • 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. Campagna.
  • 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. after Cleopatra dies. Emperor Augustus (1st cent ad) forbade senators and nobles from entering Egypt due to fear of its ag power.67
  • story of 19th American, George 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. fertility 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.
  • Civilizations 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.)


Small Group Discussion

  • How is the Montgomery's narrative about soil and civilizations similar to or different fromthe story of agriculture you grew up with?
  • Is it useful to inform a philosophy of food with a view about soil management? Why or why not?

APR 10: 22

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 [22]
  • 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.
  • WW2
  • Still widespread malnutrition in Great Britain
  • Nutrition hero, John Boyd Orr, focus on food program for preg women, reduced mortality in childbirth by 75%.
  • Note, part of the difficulty in treating rickets: clearly lack of calcium, but can't just give calcium alone. Vit D and phosphorous important. Also, difficult to understand role of sunlight in Vit. D production. Eventually, "calciferol" (Vit. D) was isolated.)
  • Protein chemistry
  • 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 real comprehensive analysis of food nutrients. (Recall earlier story in Gastropod of Atwater's work.)
  • Extreme diet research --- self-experimentation is a bit of a tradition in nutrition research. Examples in MCance's discovery of salt/water loss mechanisms. Kind of crazy but credited with knowledge useful to hydration in hot climates.
  • 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; proteins are polypeptides -- chains of amino acids 100s of links long. Proteins exist in specific forms in foods (ex. casein is milk protein) and are broken down by us into amino acids and resembled as protein in metabolism.
  • about 16% nitrogen; protein is a primary source of nitrogen in diet. Nitrogen Balance is shown when excretion of urinary nitrogen occurs as by product of protein metabolism (ratio of 1 g of urinary nitrogen to 6.25 g of protein). Negative nitrogen balance can be a symptom of protein deficiency.
  • Functions of Protein Metabolism
  • Tissue growth/repair: largest component of tissue by dry weight. 75%.
  • Water and pH balance [[23]]; plasma proteins can exert osmotic pressure to help circulation of tissue fluids (I think this is the "interstitium", but I'm not sure).
  • Proteins can take up acids to contribute to blood Ph management.
  • Metabolism, transport, immune system, energy system. Wide range of functions here. We have already met "lipproteins" that help carry fats around.
  • Food Sources
  • Complete proteins mostly from animal sources, including dairy, cheese.
  • Completing proteins: p. 52. also compare links [[24]] and [[25]]. Note how you can use the site to find complementary foods for foods with relatively low amino acid scores.
  • advice on vegetarian 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
  • Debates about protein quality. [26]

APR 12: 23

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%. (Note: Question of food import dependence gets people's attention. [27]
  • discoveries of nitrogen and phosphorous (late 18th cent.), potassium and calcium in 1808. (note Justus von Liebig, claim that form of soil ammedment doesn't matter, but still rec. organic soil cultivation), 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, Eugene Hilgard and mid-19th soil science: 1872: talk on how soil exhaustion shapes fate of civilizations (early version of montgomery's thesis!) Understood importance of manure and replenishing minerals. Goes to California to figure out problem of alkaline soils. Salt leeching from rock. "H's 1892 landmark report laid out the basic idea that the physical and chemical character of soils reflect ... regional climate and vegetation. Disputes with South Carolina professor Milton Whitney, who thought moisture and texture alone explained soil fertility. Infamous proclamation as 1901 head of USDA: soil is inexhaustible. King fired by Whitney for agreeing with Hilgard. examples, at 194 of crazy explanations Whitney offered to account for soil depletion without acknowledging it. Ex. he thought fertilizers accelarated soil production from rocks. productivity differences due to social causes.
  • 193: Story of natural nitrogen formation. Phorphorus mining and depletion by 1st WW.
  • Story of industrial nitrogen: bombs and fertilzer, need to secure sources: 196:German nitro technology. Fritz Haber. Haber-Bosch process. post ww2 nitrogen production, further separated animal ag from plant ag. 1920s new version of the process converts methane to ammonia. Global nitrogen production, 197. More current info
  • 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. reduced viability of non-capitalized farms. Mention Songhai Center. Oil dependence: ag used 30% of petroleum production. USDA estimate: 1/2 of fertilizer used to replace nutrients lost through soil erosion.
  • 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 [28] on two farms near Spokane, check out his Ted talk [29] What if industrial agriculture is partly a culture conception of how to produce food rather than a market based or science based approach?
  • (Some recent sceptical doubts: Can these results be scaled up? What are the inputs for human labor? p. 208 mentions 1/3 higher labor costs.)
  • 208-209: more comparative research on organic/commerical ag. Farm subsidies and effect on farm size/corporate farming. 210 1/10 of ag producers get 2/3 of subsidies.
  • 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.)

APR 17: 24

  • The Gastropod episode was in the course last year. A couple of points it makes are worth repeating:

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. [30]
  • 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.)

Pinker, "Sustenance" from Enlightenment Now (2016)

  • Presents a much more optimistic picture of the food future.
  • Lots of positive indicators: calories produced up, childhood stunting down, undernurishment down, famine deaths down.
  • Stats on Green Revolution (76), responds to critics of hydrocarbon dependency by citing the billion lives saved and that technology keeps changing.
  • Malthus didn't know about demographic transition.
  • Pretty much thinks we've solved the problem of food.
  • Some powerful arguments here, but there are critics of the 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 fleetfarming.com)
  • connections between climate change, Syrian civil war, ISIS and refugee crisis. [35]


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:
  • Warsaw Ghetto extermination.

APR 19: 25

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. [36]
  • 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. [37]
  • 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 24: 26

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 [38]
  • Natural behaviors: form friendships, have emotional lives, experience pleasure on figuing something out. [39]
  • 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 [40]
  • 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. [41] FDA did ban "beef blood" and other animal products in feed. [42]
  • 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: [43]
  • Local Organic certified grass fed dairy: [44]
  • Mad Cow Outbreak / Regulation timeline: [45]
  • The Secret Life of cows: [46]
  • Cow trauma: [47]


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.

Some "Ethical Diets" Logic

  • Very traditional arguments: meat is toxic. Largely discredited, but see Lancet article on carcinogenicity. Health considerations support reduction of meat consumption, but not elimination.
  • Traditional arguments: Suffering and Rights
  • Suffering: Consider the welfarist position a baseline. "What sourcing choices does that exclude?" Then ask, "Does the animal suffer the loss of its life?"
  • Yes: Continuity of life has obvious value to both humans and animals.
  • Yes, but: You might agree with the premise of the Yes answer, but argue that "suffering from loss of life" is not suffering you are responsible for.
  • Yes and No: Depends upon the level of sentience. Continuum from plant sentience.
  • No: Categorical difference between the way a human "has a life" and the way an animal does.
  • Rights: Strength of rights position depends upon basis for asserting rights. (Zoopolis takes us into this -- sentience, selfhood, personhood)
  • Stronger views: If basic rights include life and liberty, hard to see how you can have rights but not a right not to be eaten.
  • Weaker views: Trophic relationships matter. Prey have rights, but not right not to be eaten. Domesticated animals are domesticated prey.
  • Less Traditional Arguments: Ecology and Co-evolution
  • Ecological or Sustainability arguments
How inefficient is meat production? (Simon Fairlie is taking us into this question.)
Is some animal agriculture justified by waste avoidance?
  • Co-evolution arguments.
  • Weakness of "It's natural" arguments.
  • Stronger version: Our very identity (and the identity of domesticated animals and pets) is tied to co-evolution with animals and agriculture itself. (Recall Montanari.)
  • Problems with co-evolutionary arguments: Tend to be retrospective, but they do help explain resistance to ethically based dietary change.

Donaldson & Klymika, "Introduction," Zoopolis

  • animal advocacy at impasse. did many goood things, but crowding out animals and eating them industrially (the "Eternal Treblinka") are big failures.
  • Some, like Francione, oppose "ameliorist" positions because they can legitimate exploitation.
  • Want a new moral framework: "on that connects the treatment of animals more directly to fundamental principles of liberal -democratic justice and human rights." 3
  • Three typical positions:
  • welfarist -- humans above animals. can make use of them.
  • ecological -- focused on health of ecosystems, not nec. standing of individuals in them.
  • animal rights (ART) -- equal basic rights of life and liberty (note this is a particular "strength level" of an ART thesis. Could be stronger (a little) or weaker. Problem: Why is ART so ineffective? (People prefer the other two.)
  • Their criticism of the AR movement: too narrow, focused on universal negative rights (not to be owned, killed, confined, tortured, etc.) Only applied to sentient animals.
  • Positive rights include: respecting habitat, designing human infrastructure in consideration of animals, rescue, obligations to dependent animals (like pets). Also "relational duties" -- might have different obligations to animals we have domesticated then animals self-dom. or wild.
  • (7) An odd effect of traditional ART is to want to separate humans and animals. Francione accepts disappearance of domesticated animals. D&K argue against this vision. We are in relationship with lots of animals as a matter of course. human / animal relationship is not inherently suspect 10.
  • Another problem with traditional ART: overstates diff with ecologists. AR advocates need to defend habitat. Not always at odds with ecologists.
  • Problems with relational approaches: focus on specific relationships (like companions) rather than a generalized theory, mistakenly posed as alternative to ART. need for a relational theory that is "political" Focusing on "citizenship" since that involves specific positive duties and responsibilities. Some good analogies at p. 14.

Fairlie, Simon. Meat: An Extravagance, C1

  • C1
  • Locates his argument: agrees with social justice arguments about diverting food from poor to rich meat eaters, but doesn't accept vegan conclusion that no meat eating is acceptable. Only focused on environmental arguments, not other moral argument.
  • Sees himself as agreeing with vegans about premises, but not conclusions.
  • C2
  • Interesting history to tell about nomadic cow/horse cultures and sedentary pig cultures and how they meet (ha!) in Europe. (American culture is cow culture, perhaps because of European migration West.)
  • Different efficiency ratios for pigs. twice cows. (ruminants vs. monogastrics)
  • Detail: After Black Death, demand for field crops declines, use of fodder crops allowed more animal to be kept over winter.
  • Tracks emergence of "hog culture" in parts of US. role of refrigeration favoring cows. Pig meat can be cured more easily.
  • C3
  • Lays out the environmental case against meat. Agrees with it. Claims it's a problem for all luxuries. (Note argument strategy.)
  • Environmental inefficiency of meat a concern prior to climate concerns. 50% of arable land in UK devoted to meat production.
  • Starts discussion of efficiency:
  • Trophic levels -- energy loss at each level accounts for need for larger inputs. p. 13 read: "By choosing to eat fish ...."
  • "feed conversion" ratio -- based on percent of energy retained by animal from feed.
  • parallel "land-take" ratio -- how frugally or extravagantly land can be used to produce food. Expressed as in Singer ""plant food yield about ten times as much protein per acre as meat does" (Long discussion of the 10:1 ratio initially suggests by Shelley! Variation by animal/meat type.
  • turns to ag information to calculate feed conversion from expected grain needed to full weight for slaughter, then subtract non-meat part of the beast. You get about 10:1 for a cow.
  • CAST vs. CIWF
  • Beef is only 20% of consumption. Conversion ratios for other animals are better. Comparing CIWF (vegan oriented analysis) and CAST (meat industry analysis).
  • Ultimately skeptical of CAST claim of little to no difference between animal / plant efficiency, but agrees with some of the reasons for lowering the ratios.
  • 1. Nutritive value of meat, value of by products, values of fodder crops.
  • 2. Animals consume food humans can't/don't eat.
  • Nutritional Value -- sketchy claim here 1.4 times plant. But yields of basic nutrients should be factored in somehow along with pound for pound analysis.
  • By Products -- p. 22 Mention bone broth. Value of byproducts in carcass declining due to competition from other sources. value of the cow's skin, by weight, greater than beef.
  • Crop yields. Corn as a feed grain is more efficient than wheat and rice, though humans prefer wheat and rice as a staple. Skeptical of some CAST claims here, but agrees that conversion ratio goes down if the fodder crop has a higher energy yield (or lower ag inputs like water).
  • The Global Pig Bucket -- foods we can't eat (grass, straw, stalks), foods we won't eat (partially spoiled, residues of food processing, kitchen waste, slaughter waste).

APR 26: 27

Barber, Ch 12, "Land"

  • Two stories of "terroir" -- gastronomy & ethics
  • Eduardo and his geese -- How does Eduardo come across to you?
  • In earlier segment, Eduardo is touting the fact that his foie gras does not require force feeding the geese.
  • Is the slaughter humane in your opinion?
  • Connection between humane slaughter and taste -- pig story 160
  • Monesterio and jamon -- [[48]]
  • Jamon iberico de bellota (acorn)-- espression of the land. connection with Spanish identity.
  • food religion point: 163 eating pork during the islamic occupation showed you were christian.
  • 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 4 acres/pig. Can't scale this up.
  • These gastronomic stories would certainly count as "extravagant" for Fairlie. Note also that they exemplify terrior. and even moral terrior. Cf to the tonnara in Med.
  • Remaining pages of the chapter point out the other rich products of the dehesa. The land is very productive. Even the oak trees provide valuable cork. So there is a kind of intensive agriculture here, but it is very specific to what the land and history could create.

Andrews, Chapters 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. [49]
  • 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

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)?

MAY 1: 28

Fairlie, C4 C5, "Default Livestock" and "The Plight of the Pig in the Nanny State"

  • Chapter 4
  • Basic argument for default livestock production. 37-38
  • Claims default production accounts for a great deal of global meat production (hard to know). Could therefore satisfy demand up to the level that we think meat is healthy.
  • Critique of UNFAO report, "Livestocks Long Shadow"
  • report makes assumption of industrial demand driven system. but shouldn't assume that satisfying open ended growth in demand for meat is necessary.
  • FAO favors industrial meat production as a consequence. (later in the book, further criticisms) See also [50] "meat vs. miles" debate: [51]
  • Chapter 5
  • Argues that we currently have unreasonable restrictions that work against welfarist (not his term) meat production.
  • our responses to problems recycling animal food streams, such as the BSE crisis, problems at large farms, have led to restrictions that work against small producers.
  • EU policy has favored industrial production by lowering cereal production, making residues less competitive.
  • Foot and mouth disease figures -- 2001 six million wasted. Claims large farms more vulnerable.
  • Note closing paragraph. Not many buy the Kipling line, but the co-evolution version might help, at least to get us to the present.

Chamowitz, C1 C5, "What a Plant Sees" and "How a Plant Knows Where It Is"

  • We'll attempt to divide into groups based on the chapter you chose. Each group will take a few minutes to organize their notes and prepare to present them to the class. Then we'll try to assess the implications, if any for arguments about sentience in animal rights.

Donaldson & Kymlicka, "Universal Basic Rights for Animals"

  • All animals with "a subjective existence" "who are conscious or sentient beings" are bearers of universal rights.
  • Note: Range of positions called "animal rights" from any incremental improvement in welfare to universal inviolable rights.
  • Authors endorse "old school" dichotomy between utility and rights. Yikes.
  • Other language to capture the "bright line" between animals with inviolable rights and others: "Selves" "distinctive subjective experience of their own lives and of the world" "someone home"
  • Why prefer selfhood to personhood (presumably a higher standard that only humans meet -- p. 26: "abstract reasoning, long-term planning, capacity of culture, moral responsibiltiy)? Authors argue that personhood is speciesist (why?) and that it is aptitude-based rather than selfhood (which isn't?).
  • 31: claims that we don't need to understand what selfhood is to use it as a criterion. hmmm. I'm not always sure "someone is home" when I interact with an animal. Plant sentience raises possibility that "something's home" in a group of trees or plants.
  • positive basis of selfhood as a criterion. "response to the vulnerability of a self" (But not the vulnerability of plants. Poor things can't even move!)
  • 32: anthropocentric objection. Deny that their view is anthropocentric because it doesn't start with humanity as a criterion. (But it doesn't start with a mammalian model of self and sentience.)
  • 33: ecological objection. ART lacks theoretical resources to capture the moral significance of eco-systems, of nature.
  • Recall overall argument. The issue of "inviolable rights for all selves" is separable from the main thrust of the book, which is more original and promising. That is the project of "group differentiated human - animal justice. focused on positive rights.

MAY 3: 29

Small group course evaluation

  • Please discuss and reflect on the following questions and report your group's responses using the "Small Group Discussion Report Form".
1. Using the following topic list, discuss which topics you felt we spent about the right amount of time on, too much time on, or too little time on.
  1. Opening Documentaries: Food, Inc & Fed Up
  2. Microbiome
  3. Food Industry / Food Science - Groopman, Moss, Pollan,
  4. Food Anthropology - Diamond, Montanari, Montgomery
  5. Food Politics -- Nestle, some Pollan, Zepeda, Moss
  6. Food & Religion -- Soler, some of Tanahill
  7. Food & Civilization -- Montgomery, Tanahill
  8. Nutrition -- Nix, Guidelines
  9. Nutrition Science History - Gratzer
  10. Gastronomy -- Barber, Gopnik, Andrews
  11. Ethical Diets -- Singer & Mason, Estabrook, Fairlie, Donaldson & Kimlyka, Chamowitz
2. Take a couple of minutes to list some topics you would like to see considered for future versions of the course. Try to prioritize topics if possible.
3. Does your group have suggestions for different ways of approaching any of the topics in the course (for example, in terms of timing or student engagement)?

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.
  • (Almost) 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.

A couple of closing comments

Final Essays

Final Essay Instructions

  • Please write two 800 word essays, choosing one of the two prompts under Topic A for one and one of the two prompts under Topic B for the other. The deadline for this assignment is Thursday, May 10th, 2018, 11:59pm.
  • Topic A:
  • 1. We've encountered a variety of ethically based challenges to the Western Diet in this course. Identify the reasoning behind the most significant of these and present your current reasoned opinion. What does it take to know that you have an "ethical diet"?
  • 2. Do animals have inviolable basic right? Assess both arguments and implications.
  • Topic B:
  • 1. What are the principle lessons from your study of both the history of food and the "bio-history" of soil and civilization? Are we still making these mistakes or is there also reason for optimism?
  • 2. Drawing on both our study of the history of nutrition science and of current nutrition science, how would you respond to someone who said that we had more or less complete knowledge of nutrition and metabolism?
  • Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way:
  1. Do not put your name in the file or filename. You may put your student id number in the file. If possible put your word count in the file.
  2. Format your answer in double spaced text in a 12 point font.
  3. Save each essay in a separate file, using the ".docx" file format. For example, if you answer topic and question A2, save your file as "Final Essay A2".
  4. Log in to courses.alfino.org. Upload your file to the Final Essay dropbox.