Philosophy of Food Fall 2018 Class Notes
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Revision as of 15:11, 22 October 2018 by Alfino (→Montgomery, David and anne Bilke, "What Your Microbiome Wants for Dinner" (recommended for Florence Fall 2018))
Return to Philosophy of Food
SEP 18: 1
SEP 20: 2
SEP 25: 3
Gastrpod, "The End of the Calorie"
- Sanctorio Sanctorius - 1600’s Padua - 30year practice for weighing inputs and outputs.
- Bomb calorimeter. You burn the food. Segment on how it works.
- Digression on Food Extrusion (not in podcast):
- Indivudal variation: age, gender, muscle mass.
- CALORIES AND THE GUT MICROBIOME - how does microbiome affect calorie processing.
- microbiota creates variation in calorie capture.
- 36:45. Sarah Hailey comment.
- CALORIE REPLACEMENTS?
- They acknowledge that we don’t have a better standard, but other methods might tell us more.
- WHY THE CALORIE IS BROKEN
- THE CHEMICAL DEFINITION OF THE CALORIE
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.
- 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
- slow food also has a conservative dimension.
Chapter 2, "The Critique of 'Fast Life'"
- 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
SEP 27: 4
Microbiome Movie Notes
Sonnenbergs, C 1, "What is the Microbiota and Why Should I Care?"
- Introduction to the Tube and digestion
- Microbiota Case against the Western Diet
- 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 --
- 22-30 - Cultural History and History of Science on Bacteria
- 60-70's: Abaigail Salyers: early pioneer, 2008: Human Microbiome Project
- Contemporary research: gnotobiotic mice. early fecal transplant studies of [Dr. Jeffrey Gordon].
Montgomery and Bilke, "What Your Microbiome Wants for Dinner" (recommended)
- Digestion Basics
- good introduction to digestion.
- Microbiota (M) like a pharmacy.
- Grain Wreck
- Chemistry of Typical cereal crop seed --
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?
- 6. What is a nutritious diet?
- 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.
- Mental health is influenced by the health of our M.
- We have co-evolved with our Microbiome.
- The interic nervous system is an ecology.
OCT 2: 5
Sonnenbergs, C 5, "Trillions of Mouths to Feed"
- Microbiota mechanisms:
- direct response to diet, "recyclers",
- 128: Dutch research on rich and poor M. richness of M better predictor of disease than obesity.
- What about the Inuit?
- What about excess gas?
- 135: Note their dietary advice.
Sonnenbergs, C 7, "Eat Sh*t and Live" (Recommended)
- Gastroenteritis, infectious diarrhea, -- culprits like Giardia, Salmonella, and norovirus.
- 2013 Dutch FMT therapy for CDAD - 94% cure rate (note earlier researcher in 50s who tried this.)
- IBS and IBD - 177:
- 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.
Montanari, "Food is Culture"
- Creating One's Own Food
- Fermented drinks - like bread, break from nature.
- germ idea about culture: culture is produced where tradition and innovation intersect
- Even Nature is Culture -
- Playing with Time
- no seasons in Eden or Land of Cockainge.
- Playing with Space
- Original text in "bio-history".
OCT 4: 6
Pollan, In Defense of Food, first 4 chapters of Part 1
- background on previous work and personal food history.
- 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.
- goal: advice for enjoying food.
- Chapter 1 - From Foods to Nutrients
- food disappearing in favor of "nutrients" - a kind of reductionism.
- 1912: Casimir Funk, "vitamines" - goes back to "vitalism", also "amines" because nitrogen based.
- Chapter 2 - Nutritionism Defined
- Gyorgy Scrinis -- 2002 claim.
- Chapter 3 - Nutritionism comes to Market
- Chapter 4 - Food Science's Golden Age
Group Writing Exercise
Montanari, "Food is Culture" "Fire > Cooking > Kitchen > Cusine > Civilization
Fire > Cooking > Kitchen > Cuisine > Civilization
Diamond, Ch. 10, "Agriculture's Mixed Blessings" (recommended)
- 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).
OCT 9: 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 detail on Blue Hills.
Nestle, "Introduction: The Food Industry and 'Eat More,' from Food Politics"
- Intro: "This book exposes the ways in which food companies use political, government and professional support for the sale of their products."
- note her concise nutrition advice on p. 5ff. A bit old school and reductive.
OCT 11: 8
Pollan, Part II of In Defense of Food
- Part II : Western Diet and diseases of civilization
- Chapters 1 and 2
- Chapter 3
- Types of Changes that mark the Western Industrial Diet
- 1. From Whole Foods to Refined
- 2. From Complexity to Simplicity
- 3. Quality to Quantity
- "overfed and undernurished"
- 4. Leaves to Seeds
- O3 decline also related to mental health. 130
- 5. From Food Culture to Food Science
OCT 16: 9
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)
- 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.
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.
- 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 )
OCT 18: 10
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. []
- Frosted Mini-Wheats became "brain food". fraudulent research. 91-92 Commercial in this NPR story Also, check out these oldies. 
- 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.
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.
OCT 23: 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.  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:
- potato chips comparison: Lay's vs. Kettle Brand
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?
OCT 25: 12
Ethical Diets #1
Singer and Mason, "What Should We Eat"
- This reading gives you an overview of value oriented questions in diets.
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.
- 90% fewer farms producing 103 million pigs, up from 69 million in 1975.
- Pig farms environmental footprint dominated by excrement production. 4x human/day.
- Evidence against sow stalls in EU investigation.
- difficulty sourcing to particular dairy, even specialty brand. Cf. Pure Eire dairy 
- air pollution from dairy and cattle production.
- Beef cows
- Australian ranch: example of "happy meat" -- like "crowd cow"?
- Additional sources:
Fischer, Bob, "Arguments for Consuming Animal Products"
- This article considers the ethical possibilities for arguing either against prohibitions on meat eating or in favor of meat eating.
- "man on the street" intuitions: health, natural, nice, normal. Not very promising starts.
- organization: survey of arguments:
- 1. "ought" or "may" eat meat;
- 2. practices: animal friendly ok; industrial ok; insects, oysters, roadkill, wild animals
- Utilitarians arguments favoring consumption of animal products (or problems with simple utilitarian arguments against meat)
- might focus on hunting or eating a whale (loss of utility of one big animal vs. pleasure of many)
- Rights based arguments