Philosophy of Food Study Questions

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JAN 19

First Day - No Study Questions

JAN 24

1. How does Nestle show that US Government nutrition advice is limited by political considerations?

2. What are the main facts about the emergence of diseases cause by bad nutrition in the last 30 years?

3. What are the main trends in the food industry during the past 3-4 decades?

JAN 26

1. What is nutritionism and how does Pollan think it helps explain what's wrong with our food culture?

2. What is the place of food in an account of human culture? How does food create "man" and the nature/culture division?

JAN 31

1. What is "cucina" and how has it been disrupted in contemporary US food culture?

2. Give examples of the sorts of bad inferences that nutritionism helps us make when thinking about food.

3. What are some of the problems with and limits of various types of nutritional studies?

4. What is distinctively new in the modern restaurant?


1. What were some of the culturally specific features of the "social field" or "scene" of the first modern European restaurant? Use the concept of "scene" and "public eating" to give a parallel analysis of US food restaurant and public eating culture.

2. Identify some of the values that could frame an ethical analysis of food sourcing as well as some of central concerns about specific foods and the conditions of their production.


1. What is Pollan's case against industrial food in Section 2 of In Defense of Food?

2. How do Pollan and Nestle add detail to the 20th century history of awareness of diet based diseases and, in Nestle's case, the emerging consensus in the late 80s on nutrition?


1. What does Pollan mean by eating algorithms and how does he specific a diet without lots of technical information?

2. What was the 1991 food pyramid controversy?

3. How do you represent a healthy diet graphically?

FEB 14

1. What are some of the problems inherent in food based dietary guidelines such as the food pyramid or Choose My Plate?

2. Critically assess the eating algorithms in the last part of the Pollan reading. How would you assess eating algorithms as guides to a healthy diet?

3. How does Zepeda characterize US food culture as a continuity and break with historical US cultural food values? Is she right to say that we have the food system that reflects US development?

FEB 16

1. What did Darwin's research on worms show?

2. What does our early experience with agriculture tells about our relationship to soil?

FEB 21

1. How would you design a diet?

2. How did ancient cultures of Greece, Rome, and the Mayan management their soils? How is soil mis-management related to empire decline?

FEB 23

1. What were the effects on soil management of soil ammendments like nitrogen and phosphorus?

2. What was the Green Revolution and what were some of it's main effects?

3. How do organic farms compare, in productivity, with non-organic farms?

4. Critically assess the implications Montgomery draws from his study of the relationship between soil and empire in Chapter 10.

FEB 28

1. What are the implications of food origins and migrations? How does technology affect food discovery?

2. Is domestication (whether of plants of animals) "natural"? Does it separate us from nature or is it ecological?

3. What is the relationship between food and religion. Did food culture give rise to religious culture?


1. How does Soler's account of food in religion help us see it's "semiotics"? Identity specific ways in which food affects religion and in which religion makes use of food culture.

2. What are some of the defining food practices of the Roman period?



MAR 14

Spring Break

MAR 16

Spring Break

MAR 23

1. What is the point of the story of the 16.9 carrot?

2. What is "terroir" and how do the stories of foie gras and jamon iberico exemplify this concept?

MAR 28

1. How do the "cereal wars" of the 1980s show the relationship between the competitive market behavior of cereal producers and consumer behavior?

2. How are carbohydrates represented in the typical "Western diet"? What changes in our consumption patterns need to be made, according to nutritionists?

MAR 30


1. What lessons can be drawn from Moss's discussion of fat in the processed food industry?

2. What do we need to know about the chemistry and metabolism of fat?


1. Assess the critique of fast culture in the slow food manifesto and other sources. What would it mean, at a practical level, for you to have a slow culture lifestyle and food lifestyle?

2. What is practicality in a diet? How does solving practicality challenges affect the survival of a diet?

APR 11

APR 18

1. Assuming that it is ethically acceptable to eat animals, what standard of care is warranted?

APR 20

APR 25

APR 27