Philosophy of Food
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Main Course Information
Schedule & Notes
Advice, About the course, Method, Wiki edits
Some Optional Philosophy of Food Assignments and Topic Ideas
- Practicum: Diet Review and Improvement -- Review your own diet and consider the effects of specific changes you might make. This assignment is optional, but you must do either this one or the "Food Investigation" paper.
- Choose from the following options. Depending upon your current understanding of nutrition and your own diet, you may want to combine Diet Review and Diet Improvement.
- Diet Review
- Tracking and Comparision to Dietary Guidelines. Use an online diet tracking site to create a "baseline" analysis of your diet. Compare your diet to US Dietary Guidelines  which we will read in the course. Consider Myfitnesspal or any food/diet site that is connected to the large food and nutrition databases. Enter most of the foods you eat over a 7-10 day period. We will get into more detail on this, but try to look up nutritional norms for your age, health, and weight. Compare with your actual diet and the US Dietary Guidelines. Write up your observations in a 3-4 paper. You may want to focus on a general comparison of your diet to the guidelines, things you didn't notice or were surprised by about your diet, the proportion of whole food vs. industrial food products, the regularity or lack of regularity in the diet, etc. I recommend that you make tracking a part of your practicum, but, depending upon your current knowledge of your diet, you may be able to do some tracking and also incorporate one or two of the Diet Improvement ideas.
- Diet Improvement
- Eliminations.Try small changes in your diet by eliminating some or all of the following: industrial processed food, sodas, eating between meals, and refined carbohydrates, especially refined sugar. Consider re-sourcing industrial meat to local organic. Try adding a non-meat protein dinner, such as a lentil or bean dish. Try the same as a restaurant. Use a journal to track your experience of these changes. Using the journal as a source, report on your experience in a 3-4 page reflection paper.
- Elimination-Replacement Diets. Some eliminations do not require replacements, but others do. If you eat alot of industrial food and your goal is to reduce that significantly, then you will need "replacements" for the lost meals. Maybe you will try to ditch that sugary breakfast cereal, decrease meat consumption, or
- Diet Enrichment. Another kind of diet improvement goal you could have for the practicum is to find three new meals that you can make and add to your dinner routine. These new meals can meet a variety of goals, including some that emerge from your diet tracking and review. For example, you might try to acquire new non-industrial, low-meat/no-meat, microbiota friendly meals!
- Practicum: Food Investigation Paper - a short 3-4 page paper in which you investigate a food issue and report briefly to the class about it. This is an optional assignment but you must do either this assignment or the Diet Review Practicum.
- The Food Investigation Paper can involve any Food Studies topic of your choice, but ideally, it should related to a question or curiosity you have, even about your immediate food environment. So some of the suggestions below for the Food System Research topics. You may also want to choose a topic that relates your major to Food Studies.
- Food System Research -- Systems, Journalism, & Activism -- Research a specific aspect of food production and distribution in your local food system. A research focus involves documenting the issue and giving your analysis of it, whereas an activism focus may involve trying to promote positive change. Here are a few examples:
- Research a particular grocery store's sourcing choices.
- Why does a local store sell peppers from Holland? Can they be sourced locally?
- What organizations exist in Spokane to help promote local food production?
- Investigate Sodexho's dietary standards and sourcing choices?
- Take a favorite food product, food, or meal in your life and investigate or compare sourcing options. This could involved documenting the sources of a food product, making a dish from differently sourced ingredients, or other possibilities.
- Visit a local supplier of organic foods or a local producer of industrial foods. Integrate relevant course issues into your analysis and reflection on your visit.
- Visit Pure Eiyre Dairy in Othello, which touts its humane and organic methods. Sample their products, comparing them to industrial equivalents. http://www.pureeiredairy.com .
- Try to visit Snyder's bread factory and then one of the artisan bakers in town: Common Crumb, Luna (Boosie's), Petite Chat.
- Assess one or more restaurant menus in terms of nutrition, sourcing, or gastronomy.
- Visit a local organic ranch or farm to gain insight into their values and challenges. What are the economics of such an enterprise.
- Food security topic -- Learn about the food distribution systems that supply food banks, community food pantries, and free meals. Where does the food come from? Who uses or depends upon this food system? How well does it work to provide food security?
- Food movie and book groups -- Get together with other students or work on your own to deepen your understanding of an additional book or movie source on food. Choose journals and/or class reporting as part of this assignment. Food movies
- Some possible books:
- Catching Fire Richard Wrangham -- This book by a leading medical anthropologist has been widely discussed and referenced in the last year. It brings together a fascinating literature on the effects of cooking on human evolution.
- The Good Gut Justin and Erica Sonnenburg -- This microbiology couple at Stanford contributed this volume to the current discussion gut bacterial" or your microbiome.
- Mindful Eating Jan Chozen Bays -- In this work, the author, a medical doctor, explores the ways that becoming a more mindful eater can improve your awareness of the importance of eating, your diet, control of appetite, and enjoyment of food.
- In Meat We Trust Maureen Ogle -- Historians will like this story of the US cultural and dietary relationship with meat.
- Philosophers at Table Raymond Boisvert and Lisa Heldke -- A recent work in philosophy on the nature of food and being human.
- More Than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Rituah and Reality.Karen Davis, (New York: Lantern Books, 2001)
- Caffeinated Murray Carpenter
- Short Term Research - Many of the issues and topics we discuss are in flux due to emerging research and changes in food production and consumption. Here are some suggested topics for further research.
- What are the alternatives to "culling" of male layers or treatment of male calves at dairy operations?
- Can we breed animals "back" to conditions prior to the distorted breeding programs of industrial agriculture?
- Food ethnography: Study a food or food system from your ethnic, regional, or class identity. The specific goal of the study will depend upon your interests. You might want to explore a food from your family life or make a critical study of the disruption of a food culture.
- Research a fad diet from the last few years in light of research and reflection.
- Are we getting better at farm raised fish?
Final Paper Options
- Your final paper should be a 7-9 page (typed double spaced) paper satisfying one of the following topics:
- 1. "My Philosophy of Food" -- Put together your best answers to the most basic questions that define a philosophy of food. What are the fundamental features of a sound approach to food? How should we think about food, the Western Diet, and the satisfactions that food makes possible? What are the implications for your developed philosophy of food in terms of food choices and personal food culture (roughly what to eat and how to eat).
- 2. Research Paper -- Food topics abound. Chose something that builds on your disciplinary expertise or not. You may choose an fact-based topic, but you may also want to consider topics that integrate ethical and public policy issues and the food system.
Previously posted Course Resources
- Food movies - a list of current food movies. Please help update it!