2017Philosophy of Food Reading Schedule

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Return to Philosophy of Food

JAN 19 1

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

JAN 24 2

Overview of Course Units

or Cowspiracy; 
  • Nestle, "Introduction: The Food Industry and 'Eat More,' from Food Politics", 2013. (1-27).
  • Focus: These documentaries and Nestle's Introduction will quickly put a critique of the US Food System on the table. For the movies, you should each select at least one movie to view (all are on you tube and Netflix, at least one is on Kanopy (through Foley)). Take some notes on: 1. Facts that you are surprised by, think important, or are suspicious of.; 2.stions raised by the movie; 3. Claims or thesis that the movie's documentary evidence seems to support.

JAN 26

  • Montanari, Massimo. Food is Culture, (1-26).
  • Pollan, Michael. Part 1: "In the Age of Nutritionism," In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (pp. 19-40).
  • Focus: Montanari takes us quickly into the intersection of history, anthropology, and philosophy of food by situating food as primordial culture. Pollan gives us a quick introduction to "nutritionism" -- the idea that food just is nutrition, along with some analysis of the problems of nutrition science and nutrition policy. We'll read the rest of his analysis and recommendations in the first unit of the course.

JAN 31 3

  • Pollan, Michael. Part 1: "In the Age of Nutritionism," In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
  • Gopnik, Adam, "Who Made the Restaurant?" from The Table Comes First, 2012, (pp. 40-81). (1-32).
  • Montanari, "Fire, Cooking, Cuisine, Civilization" (29-33) from Food is Culture.
  • Focus: Gastronomy is the study of food taste and satisfaction at the level of both plate and culture. We will look at some quintessential moments in the history of gastronomy, such as the birth of the restaurant, but also discuss contemporary gastronomic growth in coffee culture and beer culture.

FEB 2 4

  • Gopnik, Adam, "Who Made the Restaurant?" from The Table Comes First, 2012, (32-57).
  • Singer, Peter, & Mason, Jim. Chapter 18: "What Should We Eat?" (pp. 270-285): Rodale. There are legions of ethical and social justice issues in food. This chapter gives you an overview of the sorts of ethical problems connected with the production and consumption of food.
  • Focus: There are legions of ethical and social justice issues in food. This chapter gives you an overview of the sorts of ethical problems connected with the production and consumption of food.

FEB 7 5

US Food System and Food Politics

  • Pollan, Michael. Part 2: The Western Diet (pp. 83-132); Recommended (not for quiz):
  • Nestle, Marion. Chapter 1: From "Eat More" to "Eat Less" 1900-1990 (pp. 31-50).
  • Focus: Part 2 of Pollan's book focuses on the most important evidence that we have about the diseases of the Western Diet, the epidemiological evidence. The story of taking aboriginal people of a Western diet, Weston Price's pioneering "ecological" approach and a review of food related diseases are all important. Track the major ways that food is degraded by industrial processes.

FEB 9 6

  • Pollan, Michael. Part 3: Getting Over Nutritionism: In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (pp. 139-170);
  • Nestle, Marion. Chapter 2: Politics Versus Science -- opposing the food pyramind, 1991-1992 (pp. 51-66).
  • Focus:

FEB 14 7

  • Visit from Jenny van Cott, Pantry Fuel
  • Pollan, Michael. Part 3: Getting Over Nutritionism: In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (pp. 170-201);
  • Zepeda, Lydia. Carving Values with a Spoon. Food and Philosophy (pp. 31-43).
  • Focus: Zepeda offers a more general reflection on the US Food system than we've had so far. Note the difference between energy-dense and nutrient dense. Track Pollan's "eating algorithms"

FEB 16 8

Food Culture and History

  • Montgomery, David. Chapter 2: "Skin of the Earth" Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations(pp. 9-25);
  • Montgomery, David. Chapter 3: "Rivers of Life" (pp. 27-47)
  • Focus: The Montgomery chapters tell the story of food and soil. Chapter 2 combines a bit of history and science about where soil comes from and how long we've known that. Chapter 3 really gets us started on understanding the transition to agriculture. Try to track competing theories, note the relationship to religion, and key points in the Egyptian, Mesopatamian and Chinese experiences with early agriculture.

FEB 21 9

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

FEB 23 10

  • Montgomery, David. Chapter 8: "Dirty Business" (pp. 179-215);
  • Montgomery, David. Chapter 10: "Life Span of Civilizations" (pp. 233-246):
  • Focus:

FEB 28 11

  • Tannahill, Reay. Chapter 3: "Changing the Face of the Earth" Food in History(pp. 19-41);
  • Tannahill, Reay. Chapter 4: "The First Civilizations" (pp. 45-59).
  • Focus: We've looked at the story of our relationship to soil, now we add in a history of our relationship to actual foods. Focus on the origins of cooking, specific "primal" foods such breads, milk, and honey. Also follow the emergence of animal agriculture. The last section of the article on religion is also important. In Chapter 4, the story of bread continues, along with beer and again religion.

MAR 2 12

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

MAR 7 13

  • Wallach, Jennifer Jensen. Chapter 1. "The Cuisine of Contact" (pp. 1-31).
  • Focus: We finish our food and culture unit this week with a look at several key moments in early US food culture -- the story of Thanksgiving (the real story), more in European diets, and Jamestown.

MAR 9 14

  • Wallach, Jennifer Jensen. Chapter 6: "The Pious or Patriot Stomach" (pp. 143-155)
  • Focus: Wallach covers some key food/culture stories of the US 19th century --- Graham, Post, Kellogg, Seventh Day Adventists, Shakers and their food ideas.


MAR 14

  • Spring Break

MAR 16

  • Spring Break

MAR 21 15

  • Through March and much of April we will alternate readings from the Nutrition and History of Nutrition unit and the Gastronomy unit.
  • Gratzer, Walter. Chapter 1: "The Ravages of War Terrors of the Table" The Curious History of Nutrition (pp. 1-15).
  • Nix, Stacy. Chapter 4: "Proteins" Williams' Basic Nutrition and Diet Therapy (pp. 47-63).
  • Focus:

MAR 23 16

  • Barber, Dan. The 16.9 Carrot. In H. Hughes (Ed.), Best Food Writing 2014, (185-190);
  • Barber, Dan. Introduction and Chapter 12 The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food, (1-21, 159-173).
  • Focus:

MAR 28 17

  • Nix, Stacy. Chapter 2: "Carbohydrates" Williams' Basic Nutrition and Diet Therapy (pp. 13-30).
  • Moss, Michael. Chapter 4, "Is it Cereal or Candy?" (pp. 68-94).
  • Optional Reading: (Option for student presented material: Moss, Michael. Chapter 11, "No Sugar, No Fats, No Sales," (pp. 236-263))


  • Focus:

MAR 30 18

  • Barber, Dan. Chapter 30: "Bread" (pp. 382-409)
  • Moss, Michael. Chapter 2, "How do you get People to Crave?," Salt Sugar Fat. (pp. 24-44)
  • Focus:

APR 4 19

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

APR 6

  • Andrews, Geoff. Chapter 2: "The Critique of 'Fast Life'" The Slow Food Story (pp. 29-47).
  • Focus:

APR 11 20

  • Nix, Stacy. Chapter 7: "Vitamins" Williams' Basic Nutrition and Diet Therapy (pp. 94-127).
  • Gratzer, Walter. Chapter 8: "Paradigm Postponed: the Tardy Arrival of Vitamins" (pp. 135-161).
  • Optional Reading: (Optional student presented material): Gratzer, Walter. Chapter 2: "The Scurvy Wars" (pp. 16-35).
  • Next time: V is for Vitamin. Gastropod
  • Focus:

APR 13 21

  • Extra Day. I will be available in Crimont to visit with students about projects.

APR 18 22

Food Ethics

  • Singer, Peter, & Mason, Jim. (2006). Chapter 4: "Meat and Milk Factories," (pp. 42-69).
  • Estabrook, Barry. "Hogonomics." (142-149).
  • Optional supplementary information from student presenters.
  • Focus:

APR 20 23

  • Alfino, "Report of the Mission to observe colony B"
  • Francione, Gary L. (2012). "Animal Welfare, Happy Meat, and Veganism as the Moral Baseline." In D. M. Kaplan (Ed.), The Philosophy of Food (pp. 169-189).
  • Haynes, Richard P. (2012). "The Myth of Happy Meat." (pp. 161-168);
  • Optional supplementary information from student presenters.
  • Focus:

APR 25 24

  • Singer, Peter, & Mason, Jim. (2006). Chapter 2: "The Hidden Costs of Cheap Chicken," (pp. 21-37)
  • Optional supplementary information from student presenters.
  • Focus:

APR 27 25

  • Singer, Peter, & Mason, Jim. (2006). Chapter 9: "Seafood," (pp. 111-135).
  • Optional supplementary information from student presenters.
  • Focus:

MAY 2 26

  • Special class on Microbiota
  • Read, David Montgomery & Ann Bikle, "What your Microbiome Wants for Dinner" [1]
  • Optional: View The Gut: Our Second Brain (On Amazon prime video)
  • Optional: Sonnenburgs, Chapter 7, "Eat Sh*t and Live!" from The Good Gut

MAY 4 27

  • Course conclusion: concluding discussions, maybe a presentation or two, some last minute things.
  • Take home essays assigned

May 9

  • Take home essays due Upload to dropbox. No names!