Philosophy of Food Spring 2023 Class Notes and Reading Schedule

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1. JAN 18: Course Introduction

  • Welcome - personal introduction and welcome.

About the Course (course content and research questions)

  • What's so exciting about studying food deeply at this time? Start a list....
  • Philosophy of Food Course Research Questions
  • Disciplines represented in the course: gastronomy, food history, bio-history, evolutionary psych, economics, politics, nutrition, microbiology, soil agronomy, food ethics.
  • Major Course Topics (see reading list): Microbiome, Macro-nutrition, Dietary Guidelines, Western Industrial Diet, Gastronomy, Food philosophy, Food History, Food and Animal Ethics, Environment and Agriculture, Food and Power, Food and Religion, Organic Diets and Organic/sustainable agriculture.
  • Major Course Units:
  • 1. Food, Health, and Nutrition
  • 2. Critique of the US / Industrial Food System
  • 3. Gastronomy, Neurogastronomy, and Dietary Change
  • 4. Food Culture
  • 5. Ethical Issues in Food
  • 6. The Future of Food - (and a brief look at the history of agriculture)
  • Practical Outcomes for you from the course: This is an academic course, but you have the option of doing a "practicum" involving specific goals you may have for your personal diet and practical approach to food. This has been added to your default grading scheme, but it is an optional assignment. You could do a Research Paper instead. (Student Introductions)

About the Course (technical information and course management)

  • Course Websites: Wiki & (linked from How to log in.
  • Overview of Teaching Approach.
  • 1. Grading Schemes.
  • Required Assignments and Default Grade Weights for your Grading Scheme
  • Points 30-65% Default: 40%
  • Philosophy of Food Practicum or Research Paper 10-25%. Default: 20%
  • Ethics of Food 10-20% Default: 15%
  • Final Paper 15-35% Default: 25%
  • You will be able to make some choices about what you are graded on and the weight of different assignments. This is your "grading scheme." You can customize up to 35% of your grading scheme to suite your learning style or motivations in the course. You will also have some grade information about "Points" assignments that will allow you to raise or lower the weight of "Points". This allows you to work on early difficulties without a big effect on your final grade.
  • 2. Transparency of student work and grades.
  • In this course we use pseudonyms to allow sharing of grade information and student work - You will see most of the writing and scoring for required writing assignments, including my assessments of other student's work. This has many benefits. (Show ids and grade pseudonyms.)
  • 3. Approach to Developing Expression (Verbal and Written) .
  • a. Looking at reading comprehension. I no longer use reading quizes, but you should compare your "recall" from reading in class with others'. Comment on reading comprehension and its role in performance.
  • b. Learning to assess writing. Writers improve when they acquire skills in evaluating their own and others' writing. We will cultivate these skills directly and through peer review.
  • c. Building from small, short writing, to longer, more complex writing. The writing skills in this course are sequenced and early assignments give you performance information without affecting your grade much. (Some student introductions.)
  • Succeeding in the Course:
  • There is no final exam in this course, so your success depends upon demonstrating the philosophical skills we build toward in required and optional assignments.
  • Prep Cycle - view reading notes as you are reading, read, note, evaluate preparation against other students' access to reading content in class and small discussions. Hierarchy of skills and goals.
  • Reading - Keep track of the time you spend reading for the course. Mark a physical text. Contact me if your reading quiz scores are not what you expect. There are lots of ways to improve your reading skills.
  • Speaking and Discussion - Don't underestimate the importance of practicing the articulation of your views. This happens in class together and in small groups. Speaking well is at least as important as writing well. Small group discussions provide your most extensive opportunities to improve your articulateness ahead of writing assignments.
  • Writing - We will train on the rubric early on, you will be able to read lots of other students' writing and compare scores, and discuss your writing with me, especially during office hours. Because everything is transparent, you can compare your work to slightly higher and lower evaluated student work. This often leads to productive office hour discussions. (Some student introductions.)

Food Biographies: 1st Writing and Dropbox practice

  • Please write a 200-300 word maximum answer to the following question by Friday, January 21, 2023, 11:59pm. This assignment will give us some initial writing to look at and give you practice with the dropbox protocol for turning in pseudonymous writing in the course. For this assignment, the writing itself is ungraded, but you will receive 18 points for following the instructions accurately and meeting the deadline.
  • Topic: What kind of eater are you? How would you describe your relationship to food? The following questions are meant to help you develop your answer. Do not answer the questions directly, but prepare a well-written paragraph drawing on some of the questions that are relevant to you.
  • Here are some prompts for you to consider as you prepare your food biographies:
  • How would you describe your diet? What categories of foods will you eat or not? On principle or preference?
  • Do you like foods related to your ethnicity? Do you cook?
  • How important or prominent is food in your memory as a child or your current life or both?
  • Do you engage in food related social media activity?
  • Are you a good cook? Do you dance when you cook?
  • Did your parents or guardians cook from scratch for you? Did they cook? Did you learn to cook?
  • How knowledgeable are you about nutrition? Is your experience of food connected to concerns about nutrition and dietary disease or not so much?
  • Topic:
  1. To assure anonymity, you must remove your name from the the "author name" that you may have provided when you set up your word processing application. For instructions on removing your name from an Word or Google document, [click here]. 3 points.
  2. Format your answer in double spaced text, in a typical 12 point font, and using normal margins. Do not add spaces between paragraphs. Indent the first line of each paragraph. 3 points
  3. Do not put your name in the file or filename. You may put your student ID number in the file, but not in the filename. Always put a word count in the file. Save your file for this assignment with the name: FoodBio. Save it as a .docx file. 3 points.
  4. To turn in your assignment, log into, click on the "#0 1st Writing and Dropbox practice" dropbox. 3 points
  5. If you cannot meet a deadline, you must email me about your circumstances (unless you are having an emergency) before the deadline or you will lose points. 3 points

To Do List from 1st Day

  • Make sure you can find the two course websites and that you understand what information and tools each provides. Look at some of the links on the main wiki page and shared folder.
  • Fill out the "First Day Food Survey" if you did not do so in class.
  • Write up your Food Biography and submit it (up to 15 points). (see wiki notes)
  • Make plans to visit during office hours to discuss your Practicum or Research option some time in the next two weeks.
  • Monday's assigned work.
  • Keep an eye out for Food News!

Some Food Books I'm looking at now

  • Here are a couple of recent books that I'll report more on as we go:
  • The Book of Difficult Fruit [1]
  • You Just Need to Lose Weight [2]
  • Nosedive [3]
  • Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers [4]

2. JAN 23: Unit 1: Food, Health, and Nutrition

Assigned Work

  • Microbiota: The Amazing Gut. 2019. Sylvie Gilman. "Hidden deep in our intestines, 100,000 billion bacteria are keeping us healthy by producing a range of molecules. Although their names may be perplexing: Fecali bacterium, Roseburia, Akkermansia mucinifila, Eubacterium halli, as well as being invisible to the naked eye, they could revolutionize the future of medicine. That is, if our modern lifestyle doesn't wipe them out first." On Amazon Prime. [5]
  • If you've never seen "Food INC", please plan to watch it some time. A copy is in the shared folder.


  • Review of 1st Day Food Survey
  • NSP segment

Using the NSP model to think about dietary design and dietary goals

Visual Aids for thinking about your Microbiota



Sylvie Gilman, "Microbiota: The Amazing Powers of the Gut"

  • Opening scene: Birth of a child. We are colonized at birth.
  • Microbiota research -- stools. Sequencing technology. The microbiome is the collective 100,000 billion. More than # of cells in your body. Why? (extended genome hypothesis -- example Vitamin C)
  • Meet the Sonnenbergs! 5:10 - Microbes manufacture compounds, drugs for us. Digestion, disease protection, vitamin production, brain effects (serotonin). Analogy to a forest.
  • Effects of modern diet - less genetic variety. More thinning. Switches to African aboriginal eaters. Jeff Leach, “Dr. Shit”. Hudza in Tanzania. 2x diversity of gut microbes. Amazon study, also. 50% more diverse. Ancestral lifestyles maintain microbiome diversity.
  • 14:15 — effects of antibiotics. Can cause extinction of species. Like a bomb. Mouse studies - even short courses of antibiotics can affect metabolism — weight gain. Immune system changed. Asthma. Effects on young mice more profound. Possible hypothesis: early exposure < 6 months predicts obesity and asthma by age 7.
  • 18:14 — Caesarean births. More research by Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, Rutgers. New practice of feeding c-section babies with mix of vaginal germs.
  • Back to Hudza — health of gut depends on health of environment around us. high fiber diet may be a variable. 22:30. What is effect of low fiber diet on individual and generations? Short chain fatty acids SCFAs (also discussed in Sonnenberg reading. Erica Sonnenberg — mouse study of low fiber diet over 4 generations. Loss of 1/2 of diversity.
  • 25:05 — Effects of food additives: Emulsifiers in industrial ice cream and other industrial foods. E433 and E466 - Two widespread emulsifiers in industrial foods (ice cream, salad dressings, candy). Mouse studies again - loss of diversity and thinning of gut mucus. 28:05. Produces intestinal inflammation, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. 27:55 - cool mouse gut cross section showing mucus layer! >anxiety! (Note how this affects your perception of the supermarket).
  • Obesity research suggest microbiota differences. 32:26 - Study: Same diet, different outcomes, correlated with MB diversity.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease — also Crone’s disease. Absence of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii (FP) implicated. More mouse studies. FP has protective effect. Edge of research: Can we add missing bacteria to remedy these conditions?
  • Fecal transplants 37:30. Clostridium difficile infection causes 30,000 deaths a year. Often following heavy antibiotic treatment. High cure rate >90%.
  • 41:30 Fecal Bank. Open biome, USA. Very selective 3%!. 10,000 treatments a year. 44:15: Segment on Crone’s patient. Tom Gravel. Approached his neighbor for donor stool. 200 donations! Cured. His gastroent impressed. Don't try this at home!
  • Oncology segment — immunotherapy. Impoverished microbiota may diminish efficacy of anti-cancer treatments. In human study, effects from anti-biopics prior to cancer treatment, less effective response to treatment. A specific bacterium identified: Akkermansia Muciniphila. More mice.
  • Terlingua - Also a site for Leach. Think like an ecologist about your gut. 6 week high fiber diet can increase diversity by 30%. 56:00 Listen to the Sonnenbergs. Treat your gut like a pet!

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
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease. People on Western Diet wo/IBD may still not have healthy M
  • 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. “Microbiota plasticity”
  • Baseline M - cant' be health Western Diet eaters. studies of groups like Hadza -- far more diverse.
  • 19 - Evolved Symbiotic relationship between us and bacteria --
  • Microbiota — Microbiome (the collective genotypes of the residents intestines). Example of Japanese seaweed consuming bacteria.
  • types of symbiotic relationship - parasitic, commensal (one party benefits, little or no effect on the other), mutualism. Microbiota and us have a symbiotic, mutualist relationship. Think of them as an extension of our genome. !
  • 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. But our fates are linked!
  • 22-30 - Cultural History and History of Science on Bacteria -- or, how germs got such a bad name.
  • Pasteur -- germ theory of diseases.
  • The Great Stink 1858 London, Miasma theory disproved, Cholera bacterium, not isolated until near end of century. Dr. Robert Koch. Because of this history we tend to think of bacteria as threats.
  • 60-70's: Abbigail Salyers: early pioneer, 2008: Human Microbiome Project. Note how recent this field is. One of the pioneers was still working in 2005.
  • Note research questions on p. 28.
  • Contemporary research: gnotobiotic mice. early fecal transplant studies of.[Dr. Jeffrey Gordon].

  • Some functions of the Microbiota:
  • Harvesting calories from MACs
  • immune system support
  • resistance to harmful bacteria
  • regulation of metabolism
  • production of seratonin
  • production of SCFAs, which affect weight control
  • involved in production of anti-carcinogenic compounds.
  • prevention of IBS and other disorders of the gut.

Some implications of Microbiome research

  • Food feeds you and your extended genome. You are eating for trillions!
  • Macronutrient information is only part of assessing the potential nutrition from food. MACs (next class)
  • It’s all about the tube!

3. JAN 25

Assigned Work

  • Sonnenbergs, C 5, "Trillions of Mouths to Feed" (111-136) (25)


  • Review of food biographies
  • The N, S, P model

The NSP Model for Dietary Change: Comparing notes on variety expectations

  • Today we will start discussing how the NSP model helps us think about dietary change.
  • General “false practicality” point: How practical is the drive-through fast food option? How much time does it take? How does it makes you feel while eating, after eating? Do you notice blood sugar spikes from ff? How long until you feel hunger again?
  • Small group exercise. Today we’ll focus on some “Satisfaction-Practicality” connections relevant to designing / re-designing your diet. Specifically, consider these questions as you head into small group discussion to hear others’ approaches and thinking.
  • How much variety do you expect from breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
  • How many different dinners would you need in your repertoire to feel like you had plenty of good choices?
  • Types of variety:
  • I want to come home knowing that I can choose from X different dinners depending on mood and conditions. (Home menu model)
  • I want my shopping to give me X dinners to choose from. It’s ok if variety decreases as the week goes by. (Variety Shopping model)
  • I’m ok scheduling each dinner by the days of the week. (Days of week meal planning.)
  • Other variety considerations:
  • I don’t want to repeat meals much within a week.
  • I’m fine eating the same thing for 2-3 nights or alternating 2 dinners over 4 days.
  • Other sources of variety
  • Seasonal rotations
  • Make shift dinners. (I can sometimes just make a salad and side veg for dinner.) Note the nutrition/practicality issues here. Easy to do and very practical if you are on top of your nutrition.

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

Microbiota extinction
  • Not just from change in foods, fewer fermented foods, more sterile food and sterile environments.
  • To improve gut diversity, eat fermented foods, foods with active cultures, and fiber. whole grains and rice. Don't sterilize your home environment. Pets and gardens help with our microbiota. (Elsewhere, food provokes an immune response. That's a good thing.) Variety is important. Different MB species like different things.
  • Introduces acronym: MAC -- microbiota accessible carbs -- these are really complex carbs.
Our Microbiota: Recyclers
  • Microbiota mechanisms: You are what you eat. You are what your microbiota eats and metabolizes.
  • Nice metaphor of intestines to waste management. Note diffs bt small intestine and large in function.
  • Life is hard for our M germs: no oxygen down there (must use anerobic processes, unlike our cells) and transit time is fast (hopefully!). So they make short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that can metabolize in the blood stream where there is oxygen. You do get some calories from them once they are in an aerobic environment. But they are more important for us now (given that we don't have food insecurity) for their pharmacological and metabolic functions. (A reason why the "N" in NSP, should be an "H" for health.)
  • Why feed the gut? Isn't that just more calories? (116) - No. people with high SCFA diets lose weight (Why? Satiety), decrease inflammation, less Western diet disease. Back to the connection between satiety and nutritional health. (N - S - P). For S, think of mouth satisfaction, stomach satisfaction, and gut satisfaction.
  • Sig. claim: 117: "Providing more dietary fiber for MB fermentation would likely result in weight loss, lower inflammation, decreased Weatern diseases..."
History of research on fiber
  • Field doctors: Thomas Cleave, 70s "The Saccharine Disease" "Bran Man" - his theory met with skepticism in medical community; Denis Burkitt (and Hugh Trowell) studied Westerners and Africans on fiber, stool quality, and health. 5x fiber, 2x transit. Overconsumption of refined carbs. (S&S mention here that public health attention didn't stay on refined Carbs. fear of fat, elsewhere "lipidphobia" took more attention.) "If you pass small stools, you have to have large hospitals."
  • Early researchers didn't have the mechanisms. Now we do, sort of.
Carbohydrates' Bad Reputation
  • Carb chemistry/metabolism basics -- 120: mono, di, poly-saccarides. also in our nutrition textbook chapters. Starches usually break down in small intestine, alot like sugar.
  • Oligosaccharides: 3-9 monosaccharides. Oligosaccharides (found in legumes, whole grains, fruits and veg. also pectin and inulin (in onions) ferment in gut).
  • Insulin resistance. Sugars and many starches cause insulin spikes leading to resistance. Big point here. At the level of MACs, plant chemical diversity is reflected in diversity of M. and it's products.
  • 122: glycemic index and glycemic load. (We'll cover this later.) show how to look up food values. note that glycemic index isn't really an issue with most whole fruits and vegetables. Example: pumpkin has a high glycemic index, a low load. You want low load, high-MAC.
Measuring MACs
  • Nitrition labels don't give you information about glycemic load or MACs no standard measure of dietary fiber (note discrepancies from above.) 124. So author’s prefer MACs as a term since it focuses on what the MB can eat from your carbs.
  • Undernourished gut bacteria can start eating the mucus lining of the gut. (This was also in a segment of one of the gut movies.). Feed them or they'll eat you!
  • RDAs: 29/38 grams. Actual Americans average: 15 grams/day. (Recall our African brothers and sisters at 100+ /day!) 126: Notes that not all complex carbs are available to the MB. Take away: More MACS, more fermentation, more SCFAs.
  • Research discovering enzyme in nori, a seaweed based sushi wrapper: found in Japanese guts. Helps digest fish. Note: Terrior. Local adaptation of the M.
Rich and Poor MB
  • 128: Dutch research on rich and poor M. richness of M correlates with anti-inflammatory effects, thinness, low insulin resistance, metabolic potential for pro-carginogenic compounds. French study interesting because it suggests that dietary change can quickly alter M diversity (richness).
  • Gordon's twin study on obesity. also famous 2013 FMT mouse research: need M and M-supporting diet, not just the bacteria. Note caveat 129. Can't just benefit from the microbes alone. Fecal transplant with poor diet killed off beneficial bacteria.
Refining MACs out of the diet.
  • What's wrong with refined cereal seeds (130). Wheat bread vs. Wheat berries. The form of the food matters to the fiber count. Highly milled whole wheat flour will behave differently in your gut that rough milled. Much industrial whole wheat is very finely ground.
  • Industrial bread products even if they are called "whole wheat" must removes oils for shelf life.
  • CF. whole wheat bread: 2g fiber. Cooked unmilled wheat berries (like my Farro/veg salad).
  • What about the Inuit?
  • What about excess gas? Interesting consolations.
  • 135: Note their dietary advice. A high MAC, non-industrial omnivorous diet.

4. JAN 30

Assigned Work

  • Sonnenbergs, C 6, "A Gut Feeling"


  • Practicality: Comments on food budgets
  • Satisfaction/Practicality/Nutrition: A 50cent egg lesson - $10/loaf bread.

Practicality: Comments on Food Budgets

  • Some country comparisons: [6] and within the US: [7]. Generally, American's spend under 10% of disposable income on food vs. about 14-17% for Italians, French, etc. These are rough comparisons because of wealth effects and geographic effects. Norwegians are wealthier than Americans, Italians a bit less wealthy, but Mediterranean cultures have closer access to inexpensive fresh food.
  • At $20/hr, if you spend 14% of net monthly income on food, you would have about $400 to spend. You also use this figures to think about what a just or "living wage" would be. That $20 wage certainly cannot fund high rent prices and a healthy plant based diet.

Satisfaction/Practicality/Nutrition: Two 50cent egg lessons

  • A $10 loaf of bread?
  • Quality differences in pineapple.

The Enteric-Central Nervous System Axis

Microbiota-gut-Brain image2.jpg

Sonnenbergs, C 6, "A Gut Feeling"

  • The Brain-Gut Axis
  • Documents the two-way comm bt brain and gut (enteric nervous system). Gut brain is "listening" in on the trillions of microbes in the gut.
  • Central nervous system (sympathetic and parsympathetic). Autonomic functions like heart rate include "transit rate" of food, secretion of acid in stomach and mucus in intestines. Hypothalmoic-ituitary adrenal axis (HPA) controls hormones that affect digestion.
  • Gut bacteria can influence our perception of the world and behavior:
  • serotonin production
  • toxplasma gondii (rodents and cats)
  • microbe free mice are bigger risk takers. Critical phase in correcting for this.
  • mice with impaired microbiota had worse memory (141)
  • Speculate symbiotic relationship -- microbes likely improve fitness through risk aversion and memory.
  • Mechanisms -- gut bacteria produce chemicals that go into blood stream.
  • The Personality Transplant
  • More evidence of effects on perception and behavior:
  • 2011 McMaster study: fecal transplants between anxious and gregarious strains of mice partially reversed behavior. Mechanisms: Brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) - associated with depression, schizophrenia, and OCD. Gregarious mice has increase in BDNF after transplant. Intermediate mechanisms not completely clear. "How can a bacteria at the end of your digestive tract change the expression of a protein at the top of your skull?"
  • An unsupervised drug factory
  • 144: MACS (microbiotically available carbs) produce SCFAs, but also many other compounds, including toxins that normal kidneys filter. Lots to learn. Some stimulate appetite. Many products may be neutural with respect to fitness. They imagine a hypothetical scenario in which a pectin digesting bacterium takes up residence in your gut. Maybe it has mutated to also stimulate your desire for fruit.
  • The Microbiota's Toxic Waste
  • Hepatic encephalopathy -- treatments target microbes that produce toxins. Earlier treatments required removing some length of intestines.
  • TMAO - trimethylamine-N-oxide. produced by microbes. implicated in cardiovascular disease. Red meat and fatty foods increase TMAO. Vegans and vegetarians have low TMAO production. Study on long term vegan who eats a steak. Still low TMAO. Might be lacking those microbes. (might argue for low meat consumption as nearly healthful as total meat abstinence).
  • Two-way communication between "brains"
  • Stress, IBS, Autism, and angry faces
  • Induce stress in mice and their microbiota change. Threats cause symp n.s. to do lots of things, including slowing motility and digestion. (maybe to prep us for action)
  • Some stress events have long term effect on microbiota. 150
  • IBS - read - could be a stress induced imbalance that is hard to correct because it gives you MB that also induce stress. also heightened pain perception. Read at 151.
  • Some evidence in animal models that probiotics can help with psychological problems (psychobiotics). Some studies in humans suggest this as well. Better studies needed.
  • Chemical spills out of the gut
  • ASD - autism spectrum disorders. Increasing dramatically. Often associated with gut symptoms. [8] Note connection to rise of industrial diets!
  • ASD research: 2013 Caltech studies by Mazmanian - looked at maternal immune response to infection during pregnancy. Treatment with b. fragilis helped somewhat in mice, both with leaky gut and behavioral symptoms. Effect might involve other microbes. B. fragilis affected over 100 other compounds in blood. Human/mice diffs are significant here. Caution.
  • Fermented Foods
  • 2013 UCLA fMRI study on probiotic yogurt and response to negative facial emotions.

5. FEB 1

Assigned Work

  • Nix, Stacy. Chapter 2: "Carbohydrates" Williams' Basic Nutrition and Diet Therapy (pp. 13-30).
  • Complete Carbohydrate Worksheet by Wednesday night, midnight.
  • SW1: What's important about your microbiota? See below for due date.


  • Discussion of SW1 assignment and prompt. Some reminders about good writing.
  • Review of Assignment Rubric

Some writing concepts

  • A general challenge of good writing -- Getting outside of your head -- looking at the writing as if you didn't write it.
  • Here are a few good writing concepts to look for in the samples on the handout.
  • Flow -- How well does one sentence follow another? Do you notice places where flow is interrupted?
  • Good starts -- Without good introductions and signals of organization and thesis readers are disoriented and confused. Set context by framing the topic. Tell your readers where you are going to take them.
  • Efficient writing -- Literally, how much you say with so many words. Awkward phrasing and limited word choice reduce efficiency.

SW1: What's important about your microbiota?

  • Stage 1: Please write an 600 hundred word maximum answer to the following question by Saturday, February 4th, 2023, 11:59pm.
  • Topic: We've been following science research on the microbiota and connecting that research to practical questions about our diets. What are some of the general lessons for us coming out of this research and what might it tell us about the nature of food and healthy eating? In your answer try to give both the "big picture" and highlight some of the more remarkable and interesting results of microbiome research.
  • Advice about collaboration: Collaboration is part of the academic process and the intellectual world that college courses are based on, so it is important to me that you have the possibility to collaborate. I encourage you to collaborate with other students, but only up to the point of sharing ideas, references to class notes, and your own notes, verbally. Collaboration is also a great way to make sure that a high average level of learning and development occurs in the class. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to NOT share text of draft answers or outlines of your answer. Keep it verbal. Generate your own examples.
  • Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way. You will lose points if you do not follow these instructions:
  1. To assure anonymity, you must remove your name from the the "author name" that you may have provided when you set up your word processing application. For instructions on removing your name from an Word or Google document, [click here].
  2. Format your answer in double spaced text, in a typical 12 point font, and using normal margins. Do not add spaces between paragraphs and indent the first line of each paragraph.
  3. Do not put your name in the file or filename. You may put your student ID number in the file, but not in the filename. Save your file for this assignment with the name: Microbiota.
  4. To turn in your assignment, log into, click on the “1 - Points” dropbox.
  5. If you cannot meet a deadline, you must email me about your circumstances (unless you are having an emergency) before the deadline or you will lose points.
  • Stage 2: Please evaluate four student answers and provide brief comments and a score. Review the Assignment Rubric for this exercise. We will be using the Flow and Content areas of the rubric for this assignment. Complete your evaluations and scoring by Thursday, February 9, 2023 11:59pm.
  • To determine the papers you need to peer review, use the key list I sent you by email. You will see a worksheet with saint names in alphabetically order, along with animal names. Find your saint name and review the next four (4) animals' work below your animal name. If you get to the bottom of the list before reaching 4 animals, go to the top of the list and continue.
  • Use this Google Form to evaluate four peer papers. Submit the form once for each review.
  • 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 back to the key and review the next animal's paper, continuing until you get four reviews. Do not review more than four papers.
  • Stage 3: I will grade and briefly comment on your writing using the peer scores as an initial ranking. Assuming the process works normally, most of my scores probably be within 1-2 points of the peer scores, plus or minus.
  • Stage 4: Back-evaluation: After you receive your peer comments and my evaluation, take a few minutes to fill out this quick "back evaluation" rating form: [9]. Fill out the form for each reviewer, but not Alfino. You must do the back evaluation to receive credit for the whole assignment. Failing to give back-evaluations unfairly affects other classmates.
  • Back evaluations are due Thursday, February 16, 2023 at midnight.

Nix, Chapter 2, "Carbohydrates"

  • Nature of Carbs
  • 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
  • Classes of Carbs:
  • Mono and di-saccharides are “simple carbs”. Glucose is the form that sugar takes in your blood.
  • Polysaccarides are found in starches: grains, rice, corn. Also in plant proteins: legumes.
  • Per capita HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) up from .12 tsp daily in 1970 to 11.18 tsp in 2008. p. 15
  • Fibers
  • Soluble and insoluble - soluble fiber binds bile acids and lowers blood cholesterol.
  • Insoluable are roughly what the Sonnenbergs were calling “MACs”.
  • 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 Carbs
  • reserve fuel supply is stored as glycogen in muscles [[10]] and blood sugar. Roughly 1-2 hours of aerobic exercise. glycogen also stored in the liver to regulate blood sugar.
  • 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 (Paleo).
  • Digestion
  • Primarily in small intestine, through enzymes such as amalyse from the pancreas, and from the "microvilli" of the intestine which contain specific di-saccaridases: sucrase, lactase, and maltase. (digression from p. 26 text box on dairying as textbook case of gene-culture co-evolution.)
  • Saliva contains enzymes that break down carbs.
  • Glycemic index vs. Glycemic load link for GI vs. GL
  • Note how our bodies are designed to chemically and mechanically break down carbs. There is no need to outsource this to an industrial food!
  • As we learned from study of the microbiome, you can think of carbs as feeding both you and them (the other 15 trillion organisms you walk around with in your gut). 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. Current ly 28 teaspoons of added sugar a day.)
  • Increase proportion of complex carbs. (But also, following Kessler and the Sonnenbergs, distinguish complex carbs that are in forms that reach your MB.)
  • There’s a good chance you are within the normal range for total carb intake (it's a broad range), but many of you could benefit from shifting the balance toward complex carbs. Think about your "carb profile". Is it tilted toward simple carbs and a high glycemic (index and load) diet? Or are you more invested in complex carbs that travel in rougher textures (with grain structure attached).
  • Check to be sure you are approaching <10% of carbs from refined sugar. 3 2 oz packages of Skittles = 750cal / 168 grams of carbs, but not a good approach! Note this is already more than 10% of calories from refined sugar.

6. FEB 6

Assigned Work

  • Nix, Stacy. Chapter 3: Fats Williams' Basic Nutrition and Diet Therapy (pp. 31-46)
  • Fill out Fats Worksheet Due Tonight by midnight


  • Giving Peer Criticism
  • Norming Rubric Scores
  • The Lancet, Carcinogenicity of consumption of red and processed meats
  • American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, "Vegetarian Diets"

Nix, Chapter 3, "Fats"

  • Nature of lipids:
  • 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 (so called because no spaces in the C-H string), mono-unsaturated (space at the 9th H), polyunsaturated (spaces after 6) (linoleic acid) and, if after 3, Omega-3 or (alpha-linolenic acid)
  • Visible fats: saturated fats are dense, form solids at room temp.
  • Trans-fatty acid: natural unsaturated fats are “cis” - Carbon on the same side. Hydrogenation of fats in industrial foods are sometimes “trans” to produce more shelf-stable fat. Heath concerns of trans-fats.
  • Functions of Fats
  • Essential fatty acids: linoleic acid (omega 6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). We can produced saturated fats and cholesterol, but we cannot produce these two fatty acids.
  • 34: diet of less than 10% calories from fat not consistent with health.
  • Lipoproteins: the body's way of moving fat through the blood stream. Wrapped in protein these bundles of fat can be relatively high density (lots of protein) or low density. High density lipoproteins are important because the help with the process for removing carry cholesterol out of the body.
  • 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. Phospholipids also transport fats. (Lesson: Food is not just fuel. It plays many metabolic roles.)
  • Fats essential for tissue strength, cholesterol metabolism, muscle tone, blood clotting, and heart action. As with carbs, you can think of fats as energy sources, but don't forget other metabolic functions.
  • Storage of energy.
  • Source of fat soluble vitamins.
  • Saiety! Don’t underestimate the importance of fats in producing satisfaction. Digression here on “trade ups” in fats. Animal to plant. Plant fats with better profiles of O6/O3.
  • 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. Trade up to lean meats, without skin.
  • Fish have mostly unsaturated fat compared to red meat or chicken or a Starbuck's caramel brownie! Think about your saturated fat budget goal.
  • Visible and invisible fats - similar point as the Dutch study in Moss.
  • Note pull out box on fat metabolism by ethnicity -- still very open research areas as far as mechanisms. Interesting to look into further. Hypotheses....
  • Digestion
  • In the mouth: Ebner's glands secrete lingual lipase, mostly designed for non-chewing infants.
  • Enzymes in small intestine (from pancreas), bile from gallblader, bile emulsifies fat, increasing surface area for enzymes to act. Pancreatic enzymes also enter the small intestine.
  • Frying foods at high temperatures makes digestion harder and compounds can break down into carcinogens. (Recall Lancet article.)
  • Recommendations
  • US overconsumption of sat. fats. Should have less than 10% of calories from saturated fat & trans fat combined. Some progress: US eaters went from 13 to 11%.
  • Very low fat and fat free diets are dangerous to health (p. 43). Essential fatty acid deficiency.
  • DRIs: 20-30% of calories from fat. DRI for linoleic acids at 17 g. alpha linolenic acid 1.1 g/day. Not something a person on a plant based diet needs to track.
  • Note recommendations on p. 44.
  • Some more "Fat" Details
  • Your fat budget: 2000 calories, 20-35% from fat, 9 grams/calorie, 44-72 grams per day. Going Below 22 grams, or less than 10% incompatible with health. Recommended less than 10% from saturated fat and trans combined.
  • Tracking O6 / O3: The two essential fatty acids (ones we need and can't make).
  • Looking at foods and food products in terms of fat profiles:

Giving Peer Criticism

  • Some thoughts on helpful peer commenting:
  • You are only asked to write two or three sentences of comments, so choose wisely!
  • Giving criticism someone would want to consider.
  • Give gentle criticisms that focus on your experience as a reader:
  • "I'm having trouble understanding this sentence" vs. "This sentence makes no sense!"
  • "I think more attention could have been paid to X vs. "You totally ignored the prompt!
  • Wrap a criticism with an affirmation or positive comment
  • "You cover the prompt pretty well, but you might have said more about x (or, I found y a bit of a digression)"
  • "Some interesting discussion here, esp about x, but you didn't address the prompt very completely ...."
  • General and specific -- Ok to identify general problem with the writing, but giving examples of the problem or potential solutions.
  • I found some of your sentences hard to follow. E.g. "I think that the main ...." was a bit redundant.
  • I thought the flow was generally good, but in paragraph 2 the second and third sentence seem to go in different directions.

Norming Rubric Scores

  • We'll take a look at the Assignment Rubric scores in order to clarify their meanings. This should help you with your peer review.

The Lancet on Meat, and Am Acad of Nutrition on Vegetarian diets

  • The Lancet -- "Carcinogenicity of Consumption of Red and Processed Meat"
  • Major conclusions, evidence, authoritativeness
  • curing, frying, grilling and barbequing produce carcinogenic chemical
  • 17% increase risk of colon cancer at 100/grams of red meat and 18% for 50 grams of processed meats.
  • Note mechanistic evidence for red meat strong, for processed meat moderate.
  • What are the specific thresholds and risk factors by consumption?
  • Many hundreds of studies across many countries. less certainty about the red meat conclusion from epidemiological data, though mechanistic evidence seemed stronger for red meat. Note studies on second page. More on HAA and PHA, which are chemicals formed at high heats that we often cook meat.
  • American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Position on Vegetarian Diets
  • What is the overall assessment of the Academy of the healthiness vegetarian and vegan diets?
  • bio availablity of iron lower for vegs, but not all bad. No longer higher DRI for iron due to new evidence
  • What are the major recommendations for dietary supplementation or monitoring?
  • Vit D, B12, maybe calcium, (but these are common supplements for non-vegs as well)
  • To what degree do low and no-meat diets reduce your risk of Western Dietary Diseases? 12ff: long list of health benefits. Please read through this part especially.
  • Note: effect of both the Lancet and Academy articles: most of benefits from veg diet available to low-meat diet, most of hazards of high meat diet concentrated on red & processed meat.

7. FEB 8

Assigned Work

  • Nix, Stacy. Chapter 4: "Proteins" Williams' Basic Nutrition and Diet Therapy (pp. 47-63).
  • Fill out Proteins Worksheet (Points)


  • Energy density v. Nutrient density.

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.
  • Classes of amino acids: indispensable (9), dispensable (5), and conditionally indispensable (6).
  • Conditionally dispensable: Example: If low on Mthionine(essential), then you need cysteine (cond. indis.) from diet.
  • About 16% nitrogen; protein is a primary source of nitrogen in diet.
  • Catabolism and Anabolism: Metabolic process of breaking down tissue and building it up.
  • 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. Kwashiorkor.
  • Tissue proteins, plasma proteins, and dietary protein. You dietary protein is contributing to a much larger and complex protein manufacture and delivery service.
  • Functions of Protein Metabolism
  • Tissue growth/repair: largest component of tissue by dry weight. 75% of dry body weight.
  • Water and pH balance; plasma proteins can exert osmotic pressure to help circulation of tissue fluids (I think this is the "interstitium", but I'm not completely sure).[11]
  • 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. Here you learn that enzymes, transport agents, and hormones also have protein structures.
  • Proteins also help make white blood cells, so support your immune system.
  • Food Sources
  • Complete proteins mostly from animal sources, including dairy, cheese.
  • Soy is the only complete plant protein.
  • Completing proteins, or, more current “protein scores”: p. 52. also compare links ceci beans [[12]], lentils [13], peanut butter [[14]]. Sirloin steak [15]. Note how you can use the site to find complementary foods for foods with relatively low amino acid scores.
  • Advice on vegetarian diets - Mix grains and legumes, eat soy based foods like tofu if possible. Note reference to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics document (in your links collection)
  • Old Advice for plant proteins: Balance for "complete proteins". New Advice: Choose a variety of plant proteins over days. Consider "protein score", which is typically a combination of a PDCAAS (Protein digestivility Correted Amino Acid Score) [16] and an Amino acid score [17]
  • Note health benefits of vegetarian diet on p. 54.
  • Digestion of Proteins
  • Occurs in stomach and small intestines - unlike Carbs and Fats, which are not digested in stomach.
  • Proteing enzymes have to be stored in inactive form (proenzymes or “precursors”) or they would break down body tisssue!
  • Overconsumption of protein by Americans, p. 59 Men at 181% of DRI, Women at 152%.
  • Recommendations
  • 10-35% of calories from diet
  • .8g / Kg of body weight.
  • To meet essential amino acids, choose a variety of protein sources over days, not within a single meal. Do a ("personal protein tally" on your typical diet.)
  • If necessary, check your "protein diet" with a blood test once in a while. [Prealbumin test [18]
  • Reasons not to consume excess amounts of proteins:
  • Often associated with high fat dietary sources
  • Crowds out other food sources
  • Kidneys work harder to get rid of nitrogen.
  • Further reading: Risks of too much protein
  • Debates about protein quality and quantity for athletes. [19]

Personal Protein Tally

  • We've used a "profile" metaphor to talk about carbs and fats (profiles of complexity in carbs and fat saturation for fats), but with proteins, it makes sense to "tally" or add up your intake, while watching for protein quality.
  • Calculate your protein goal in grams. 150 lbs. = 68kg x .8 = 54grams RDI /day
  • Go through your diet and look at the amounts of good protein in your day. How hard is it to meet your goal?
Food Protein Value
Egg/toast/butter 11
Muffin 6
Ceci/fruit/yogurt 14
Appetizers - cheese/crackers 11
Dinner Options
Lentils & Rice 12
Lentil Soup 15
Black Beans & Rice 23
Tuscan Bean Soup 10
Pasta (125g) 18
Tuna 19
Salmon (8oz) 45
Tofu (1/2 cup) 10

8. FEB 13: Unit 2: Critique of the US Industrial Food System

Assigned Work

  • Moss, Salt, Sugar, Fat, Ch. 4, "Is It Cereal or Candy?"
  • If you have not seen "Food, Inc." please watch it during this unit (video file in Shared folder)


  • Lecture from: Lawless, Kristin. Formerly Known as Food, C8 "Food Choice" (197-218) (20)
  • Discussion of food extrusion and industrial fiber

Lawless, Kristin. Formerly Known as Food, Chapter 8, "Food Choice"

  • We are "upside down" on food
  • Ironically, dietary advice has promoted processed and industrial foods. Food companies use nutritional messaging to sell food that is not, ultimately, part of a "healthy pattern of eating."
  • Concentration of companies (10 companies control almost every food and beverage brand, 6 control 90% of seed market), controls of foods
  • Poor disproportionately exposed to BPA. Should you worry about BPA? Mayo Clinic [20] or American Chemistry Council [21]. You decide.
  • Poor have double the diabetes rate. p. 200 other SES related food/health outcomes. Point: Dietary disease disproportionately affects the poor in the US, who also have less access to health care.
  • Advertising effects: logos stimulate taste buds. targeted advertising to poor and non-white populations. Beyonce campaign in 2013.
  • Thesis: Am food companies have created a kind of acceptance (normalization) of industrial foods and a set of ideas about health and nutrition that are largely the product of advertising by industrial food companies over about 40 years. - food elites and food desert dwellers alike. interesting. Elites are marketed "organic Goldfish" "Organic cocoa puffs"
  • At Occupy Wall street protests: vegan oatmeal from McDonalds, veggie sandwiches from Subway.
  • Households over $60k eat the most fast food.
  • Thesis: Am food companies also divide us, stigmatizing whole foods as food for elites. McD's commercial as example. [Healthy food culture is often stigmatized as extreme, counter-cultural, and obsessive.] [22]
  • Part of the method is to opposed the Nanny state, while normalizing industrial food versions of health claims.
  • Bloomberg soda case
  • 208: Background to industrial food advertising. Targeted women ('60s): ind food higher SES, part of the future. Critique of food movement for elitism and paternalism.

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

  • Origin story of commercial cereals
  • John Harvey Kellog vs. Will Kellog. Drama at Battle Creek Michigan. Will adds sugar. No turning back.
  • note early ad claims by Post for Grape-Nuts and Postum -- shows something about food psychology and tendency to fad diets.
  • Cereal or Candy?
  • $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?
  • Ad bans and the Nanny State
  • 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, arguably overplaying their hand. 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 (!).
  • 1990s and post-truth 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, p. 85: "This team (to address market share loss) would turn the traditional Kellogg way of creating products on its head. Instead of having the food technicians toil away in their labs experimenting with tastes and textures, the marketing folks hunted for ideas that suited the advertising needs at Kellogg first and worried about pleasing the palates of consumers second. Interesting. Possible thesis: We entered a "post truth" era in the food industry before politics.
  • 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)
  • The Kellogg story reinforces the idea that food may be a difficult business to subject to the demands of publicly traded corporations. (Note: Doesn't mean food can't benefit from other market realizations.)

Isolated Fiber in Industrial Foods

  • Fiber Facts about Cereal - we need both soluble and insoluble fiber. What is less clear is the effect of industrially synthesized fibers. Some evidence that they do not imitate the mechanisms of natural fibers from plant foods.
  • And you would think "fiber is fiber," but no. Isolated fiber. Also, an example of "nutritionism".
  • Intact (soluble and insoluble) vs. Isolated (synthetically produced) - Resistant starch, polydextrose, indigestible dextrins. FDA FAQ on dietary fiber. Notice the list of synthetic ingredients that keep getting added to "dietary fiber".
  • Isolated fibers "... lack the array of vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants and plant chemicals found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables and that are known to benefit health, says Jennifer Anderson, professor of food science and human nutrition at Colorado State University in Fort Collins." [25]
  • Consider avoiding isolated fiber or other synthetic fiber in your diet. Discuss the risk calculation.

Digression on Food Extrusion

  • Food extrusion of cereals and snack can reduce complexity of carbs and raise the glycemic index of the carbs in these foods. [26]
  • 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).[27]

9. FEB 15

Assigned Work

  • Moss, C8, "Liquid Gold"
  • Pollan, In Defense of Food, C1 "From Foods to Nutrients" (19-27) (8)
  • If you have not seen "Food, Inc." please watch it during this unit (video file in Shared folder). Also these two long form opinion videos from the New York Times update segments of the video. Please watch them during this unit.
  • "Meet the People Getting Paid to Kill Our Planet," Semple, Westbrook, and Kessel, NYT. [28]
  • "See the True Cost of Your Cheap Chicken," King, Westbrook, Kessel, NYT. [29]


  • Debrief on SW1. Next steps

Pollan, Michael. Part 1: From Food to Nutrients (19-27)

  • Nutritionism in the history of nutrition science.

  • claims that in the 80s we started describing food in terms of nutrients.
  • credits William Prout with discovery of centrality of protein, fat, and carbs. Liebig credited also. Also discovers role of nitrogen phosphorus, and potassium in growing plants. Claims to have solved problem of nutrition. [There was a big question among chemists about what it is in food that keeps us alive. Recall this is mid-19th. Chemistry came late to the scientific revolution in the 17th and 18th centuries.]
  • ”Extractum Carnis” — big business for Liebig. early example of meat protein ideology. Didn’t work as baby formula.
  • Alludes to the discovery of the causes of “scurvy” on ships. Reluctance of outfitters to give sailors fresh citrus.
  • discovery of vitamins 1912. Casimir Funk. Note the “vitalism” in the name.
  • addressed scurvy and “berberi” B1 (Thiamine) deficiency.
  • [Digression on Thiamine. Part of a coenzyme that facilitates the energy production cycle ATP in cells. “I can’t, I can’t”. Related to the onset of machines for producing polished rice.]
  • First modern conflict between US dietary advice and US food industry.
  • 22: 1977 McGovern Committee: first Diet Goals for the US.
  • Lipid hypothesis: claim that high levels of heart disease in the US were result of dietary fat consumption, especially from meat and dairy. Not great evidence base at this time.
  • Committee rec. reducing fat intake. Backlash. To avoid targeting a particular food industry, the committee started to use broader catergories of foods and nutritional markers to identify dietary goals. McGovern loses reelection, with help from beef lobby.
  • Instead of “eat less meat and dairy” - “choose meat, dairy, and fish with less saturated fat.”
  • Nutritionism as an ideology: Foods seen as delivery systems for nutrients. Some scientists like T. Colin Campbell objected, claiming that food and diet is still a legit level to see relationships. Heart disease might not only be about fat intake, but also lack of plant based foods. [Mention The China Study — some big criticisms, but later research on fats in context of plant based diet aligns with Campbell’s research.]
  • Even when plants were understood as beneficial, they were described in terms of anti-oxidants, vitamin C, and carotenes.
  • Nutritionism - the assumption that the right level to think about food nutrition is the biochemical level. [Not so much wrong as limited. There are wholistic effects from diets that involve complexity best captured by “diet” and “food types” (e.g. colors of vegetables predict benefits).]

More Fat Facts

  • Our treatment of the dangers of saturated fat is standard nutrition science, but a more sophisticated understanding of fat has emerged. Here’s the update:
  • 1970s: We thought saturated fat was a sufficient cause of heart disease. American Heart Association cashed in on lipidphobia and still does. Food companies pay a lot for their seal of approval.
  • Later studies (Lancet 2017) looked at 135,000 people in 18 countries and found no correlation between fats, fat intake and risk of cardiovascular disease or cardiovascular disease mortality. Shocking! Lancet study. High carb, high fat diets do have risks.
  • More recent studies support Campbell’s hypothesis that plant based diets have a protective effect against some fat consumption.

Moss, Ch. 8, "Liquid Gold"

  • Wallace and Grommet on cheese: [30]
  • 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
  • Cheez Whiz; altered from original, but never a gourmet experience. Pretty much no cheese in it now.
  • Kraft origins story
  • 1912, James Lewis Kraft invented canned cheese. used in field rations. 1928: Velveeta, high sodium as by product of industrial process.
  • Eventually Kraft uses an emulsifier, Sodium phosphate, but that increased sodium and reduced cheese flavor.
  • point is that industrial cheese can be made in a few days. “Milk in, cheese out” 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.
  • 1983 Dairy and Tobacco Adjustment Act. [1993 Got Milk? Ad campaign for California Milk Processors Board]
  • Note the gastronomy segement 171-172 - ex Kraft cheese expert Broockmann.
  • Update. Only 1.4 billion pounds in storage! [31]. What that looks like.
  • 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. Extended product line with added cheese varieties. Up to 15 grams of saturated fat. Then you are meant to add beef!
  • Nutritional profile might not look bad at first glance [32], but check out this comparison [33]
  • Stuffing cheese into pizzas.
  • Early social media marketing effort using Food network star Paula Dean, targeted to women — “Real Women” (amazing: Mac and cheese, wrapping in bacon and deep fried!) and social media to generate interest. Creating industry based food culture. 5% boost in sales. Sadly, Paula Dean get diabetes and switches her sponsorship to a drug company.
  • 2008 Dutch research on visible / invisible fats
  • visible / invisible fats and satiety, perception of fat. results: everyone underestimated fat content, visible fat group full faster, about 10% more.
  • Personal advice: buy whole fats and eat them sparingly and mindfully. Compare satiety with Costco sized skim-fat products.
  • Puzzle: many cultures eat much more cheese than Americans. French 53, Italy 44, Germans 46, yet do not suffer dietary disease from it as we do. [Now we have some answers to this, though there is skepticism about the French!]
  • Previous student comment: "This material makes me really glad that I don't like cheese."
  • Brief class discussion: What should your cheese strategy be?

Mark's version of Jay's chili recipe

  • Soffritto:
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 1-2 shallots (optional)
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 jalapeño
  • Garlic
  • 1-2 stalks of celery
  • 1-2 cups of vegetable broth (alternative 1-2 stout beers)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (1 Cento, 1 American)
  • 4-5 cups cooked beans from: ceci, black, kidney, pinto
  • 1 small can of chipotle chilis in adobe sauce
  • 1 cup corn
  • 2 tbs chili powder, 1 tbs oregano, some cayenne, paprika, salt.
  • Instruction
  • Warm liquid ingredients and tomatoes, add beans and soffritto. Simmer 20-30 minutes.
  • Serve with: bread or cornbread, cheddar, guacamole, sour cream.
  • Add 1/2 square of chocolate for variation.
  • Makes up to 8-10 servings. Freezes well, zero waste.

10. FEB 22

Assigned Work

  • Pollan, Michael. Part 2: The Western Diet (pp. 101-136) (35)
  • Alfino, Taxonomy of Successes and Failures of the US Industrial Food System (in shared folder)


  • Resisting Industrial Foods

Pollan, Part II of In Defense of Food

  • Part II : Western Diet and diseases of civilization
  • Chapter 1: The Aborigine in all of us
  • Summer 1982 - W. Australia aborigines study -- "metabolic syndrome" -- defined, theorized as signature disease of western diet. A visual for metabolic syndrome.
  • 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.) [Lots of evidence that as cultures move toward industrial food brands and more female labor market participation, they start to acquire more dietary disease.]
  • Chapter 2: The Elephant in the Room
  • Group of early 20th c intellectuals/doctors (bot 90) noticed absence of chronic disease in populations they traveled to.
  • British doc Dens Burkitt: "Western Diseases" -- diseases attributable to western diet and lifestyle.
  • Pollan chooses the story of Weston Price from this group.
  • Two objections to hyp that Western diet is to blame: disease/race theory (but evidence from mixed ethnicity/race cultures like US suggests not), demographic theory (we live longer, so we get more disease). 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.) p 98: note comparison of groups with wild animal flesh and agriculturalists.
  • First to make comparisons of grass fed / winter forage fed animals to find vitamin differences. Example today from grass fed cows. Pure Eire Dairy. The health claim about CLAs is a bit under documented at first glance. [34] But grass-fed milk does appear to have better 06/03 ratios. [35]
  • Decline of nutrition in current vegetables and fruits: [36]
  • Albert Howard 99 -- "father" of organic farming movement; early 20th century; 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.
  • Important: Among first to see a connection between dietary diseases of the food system as part of an "ecological dysfunction". (This is a theme that will occupy a lot of our attention in our discussion and reading about the history of agriculture.)
  • Chapter 3: The Industrialization of Eating
  • 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. Fortified bread. B vitamins added back in to reduce pellagra and beriberi.
  • 1996: added folic acid.
  • Jacobs and Steffen 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 holism 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 (also article above). Note on the Haber-Bosch process for synthetic NPK. Digression on Fritz Haber and Clara Immerwahr [37].
  • Simplification of plant species in industrial foods. Again, appearance of greater variety in industrial food store, but products actually represent a small variety plants and animals. Example from Italian agronomy [38] 116 for details. Decline in nutrition levels in foods since mid-20th century.
  • details on loss of food crop diversity. [39]. (Examples from intact food production cultures like Italy.)
  • Corn and soy are very efficient plants for producing carbs, but now supply sig % of calories in Am diet (about 800).
  • 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.
  • 3. Quality to Quantity
  • Industrial food system has favored cheap macro-nutrients over cheap whole foods. (whole foods in Italian significantly cheaper than in the US. Part of the reason is climate, part government ag policy.)
  • Decline in nutrient content (118-119: review), "nutritional inflation," interest in "phytochemicals" -- seem related to anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • False food value lesson from "nutritional inflation" : 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.
  • Decline in food nutrient content from food grown in impoverished soil. Some details on how soils matter: Growing time affects mineral and vitamin levels (bio-accumulation). [Note on negative examples of bio-accumulation: mercury in fish.] Some evidence that organic plants have chemicals related to immune responses.
  • "Overfed and Undernurished" - Industrial ag succeeded in growing more calories per acre, but at a cost.
  • 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. [Note that we have more theory about this now - Microbiome research.]
  • 4. Leaves to Seeds
  • Shift from leaves to seeds decreases anti-oxidants and phytonutrients in our diet.
  • Mentions Susan Allport's The Queen of Fats
  • More seeds tilt in the fat profile of the food product 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.
  • 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. Lots of wisdom and nutrition understanding in traditional cuisines.

Resisting Industrial Foods

  • You can reverse each of the trends Pollan identifies in his discussion of industrial food and the Western Diet that it supplies.
  • From Refined to Whole foods / Simple to Complex
  • Apple confections to apples, Starbucks muffins to a home made muffin (digression on Bob's Red Mill muffins,
  • Orange juice to oranges to fruit salads (note on ascorbic and citric acid).
  • Mac and cheese to pasta primavera, pasta e ceci.
  • Cook with brown rice when possible. Treat flour as a fresh food.
  • Quantity to Qualtity: "Pay more eat less".
  • Comparisons of taste (and nutrition) between industrial and non-industrial foods. Taste (in a basic food) as guide to soil quality. (Often associated with organic, but conceptually quite distinct.)
  • Nutrients lost in poor soil. Synthetic fertilizers don't address soil quality.
  • Industrial foods often large, but water logged. (50cent egg lessons here.) "nutrition deflation" - For the same volume of big industrial produce you are getting less nutrition.
  • From Processed Seeds to whole Seeds and more Leaves.
  • Omega 6 and 3 issue. Fiber and microbiota. How do you get more plants in your diet? "Trade up" dishes that are carb/fat based to dishes that incorporate leaves and vegetable fiber.
  • Mac and cheese to pasta primavera, pasta e ceci.
  • Industrial products with corn syrup and corn based chemistry to, well, corn!
  • Engage in local food culture, which is often more diverse and fresher.
  • Markets
  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Locally "Linc Foods".
  • Nutrients lost in the supply chain transit time.
  • Connect with traditional ethnic cuisines.
  • Ethnic cuisines have a long history of creating nutritious and tasty diets (not just dishes) under conditions of food scarcity. Italians refer to "cucina povera". High and low (humble) cuisine. Pre-urban cuisines had greater use of higher quality oils (digress on Italian oil buying habits), access to fresh herbs (expensive in urban food culture, but part of "cucina povera"). In terms of practicality, traditional cuisines often create diversity of dishes from common patterns of herbs, spices, and cooking methods. Compare to stocking and supplying an international/global cuisine kitchen. Food waste. A foodie could have a very austere yet satisfying and practical kitchen modelling cooking on a traditional "cucina povera".

SW2: Assessing Industrial Foods

  • Stage 1: Please write an 800 hundred word maximum answer to the following question by Sunday, February 26, 2023, 11:59pm.
  • Topic: What are the most serious problems with the US Industrial Food System and Industrial Diet? Focus on this question in your answer, but allow some room to acknowledge what industrial processes and systems do well. Allow about 1/4 of your answer (200 words) to address this question: What are the main lessons for protecting yourself from the worst effects of the Western industrial diet?
  • Advice about collaboration: Collaboration is part of the academic process and the intellectual world that college courses are based on, so it is important to me that you have the possibility to collaborate. I encourage you to collaborate with other students, but only up to the point of sharing ideas, references to class notes, and your own notes, verbally. Collaboration is also a great way to make sure that a high average level of learning and development occurs in the class. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to NOT share text of draft answers or outlines of your answer. Keep it verbal. Generate your own examples.
  • Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way. You will lose points if you do not follow these instructions:
  1. To assure anonymity, you must remove your name from the the "author name" that you may have provided when you set up your word processing application. For instructions on removing your name from an Word or Google document, [click here].
  2. Format your answer in double spaced text, in a typical 12 point font, and using normal margins. Do not add spaces between paragraphs and indent the first line of each paragraph.
  3. Do not put your name in the file or filename. You may put your student ID number in the file, but not in the filename. Save your file for this assignment with the name: "IndustrialFoods".
  4. To turn in your assignment, log into, click on the "#0 - SW2 - Assessing Industrial Foods" dropbox.
  5. If you cannot meet a deadline, you must email me about your circumstances (unless you are having an emergency) before the deadline or you will lose points.
  • Stage 2: Please evaluate four student answers and provide brief comments and a score. Review the Assignment Rubric for this exercise. We will be using the Flow and Content areas of the rubric for this assignment. Complete your evaluations and scoring by Saturday, March 4, 2023 11:59pm.
  • To determine the papers you need to peer review, open the file called "#Key.xls" in the shared folder. You will see a worksheet with animal names in alphabetically order, along with saint names. Find your saint name and review the next four (4) animals' work below your animal name. If you get to the bottom of the list before reaching 4 animals, go to the top of the list and continue.
  • Use this Google Form to evaluate four peer papers. Submit the form once for each review.
  • 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 back to the key and review the next animal's paper, continuing until you get four reviews. Do not review more than four papers.
  • Stage 3: I will grade and briefly comment on your writing using the peer scores as an initial ranking. Assuming the process works normally, most of my scores probably be within 1-2 points of the peer scores, plus or minus.
  • Stage 4: Back-evaluation: After you receive your peer comments and my evaluation, take a few minutes to fill out this quick "back evaluation" rating form: [40]. Fill out the form for each reviewer, but not Alfino. You must do the back evaluation to receive credit for the whole assignment. Failing to give back-evaluations unfairly affects other classmates.
  • Back evaluations are due TBD.

11. FEB 27: Unit 3: Gastronomy, Neurogastronomy, and Dietary Change

Assigned Work


  • Barber, Dan. Introduction The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food, (1-22). (22)

Barber, "Introduction" The 3rd Plate

  • Browse to these three restaurants
  • "Blue Hill at Stone Barnes" and "Family Meal"-- as a project [[41]]
  • The French Laundry. [42]
  • Chez Panisse [43]
  • Wild Sage in Spokane [44]
  • Compare on qualities like: Farm to Table - use of Farm names to identify source. Traditional (1st / 2nd plate) vs. novel (3rd plate). Fixed price v. entree pricing (No-choice allows more power to the chef.) Wandering Table tried this in Spokane.
  • 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.
  • Barber says (8) that the polenta story is the kind of experience he found himself repeating. What does he mean. What are the main features of the polenta story?
  • Barber's "Plates"
  • 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. (Carla's story Fall 2018 - What it means to have a place based culinary identity).
  • 16: Note discussion of cuisine - based on ingredients local and sustainable.
  • 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 Note that he gives another definition of the 3rd Plate at p. 21.
  • 18: "truly delicious food is dependent on an entire system of agriculture. .... 21: the thrid plate goes beyond raising awareness about the importance of farmers and sustainable agriculture. I helps us recognize that what we eat is part of an integrated whole, a web of relationships, that cannot be reduced to single ingredients"
  • The food "supply chain" is an ecology. The implication is that we can assess it in terms of sustainability, flavor, quality, diversity...etc.

Barber, Dan. Chapter 30: "Seed" (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 tomato with no flavor. Calgene's gmo industrial tomato. discontinued.
  • Background on Land grant breeding programs. 1862, with USDA, experiment station, extension service added in 1914. Can have negative effects from success. Breeding programs raised yields, but also lowered prices. 388: description of the work of the breeder. Really agriculture's artists.
  • Terroir for wheat? Aragon 03, kept alive in a corner of Spain, in high demand.
  • Palouse Heritage -- take a look at the landrace/heirloom food system for cereal terroir in the Northwest.
  • Steve Jones, formerly of WSU, now Washington State Research and Extention Center, Mt Vernon (and Bread Lab) background story - how land grant seed banks work, fateful meeting with Monsanto (p. 395), 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.
  • Digress on Fall 2018 Florence "Ancient Grains Seminar" (Shared folder)
  • Jones wants to move beyond heirloom varieties. Still ways to improve and diversify strains.
  • Land Institute project fits here.

Gordon Shepherd, Neurogastronomy Chapters 2, 7, 11, 18, 19, 21, 27

C2: Dogs, Humans, and Retronasal Smell
  • comparison of dog’s snout and sniffing with human. Important how motor functions and anatomy are integrated to behavior. Dogs can sniff 6-8 times a second. Mice sniff up to 10x a second!
  • Inside the snout: modern mammals engage in ortho and retronasal olfaction. Receptors in nasal bulb direct to brain.
  • Evolution of the Human Nose: Why we don’t have snouts....bipedalism or diet. Argued in evo theory that decline of the snout led to ascendency of vision. Stereoscopic vision only possible without the snout. Human olfaction favors retronasal vs. Dogs. Retro-nasal more emphasis on what we put in our mouths. 25-26: mechanics of chewing, sampling by taste buds, air flow, heating, humidification, retronasal olfaction,
  • Why would retronasal olfaction be favored in humans?
  • 1. Bipedalism increased our range and exposure to food varieties.
  • 2. Cooking. Origins of “cuisine” in emergence of cooking 400,000 years ago. (Note both are food explanations and they connect become “omnivores” with evolving retronasal olfaction.
  • Conclusion: The evolution of humans as upright omnivores with retro-nasal olfaction puts more emphasis on the brain in processing and remembering flavor and odor.
C7: Images of Smell
  • The Olfactory Bulb: molecular and neural pathways at the bulb. Glomerulus (glom) - convergence site of receptor cells. Interneurons: often specialized processors. Periglomeral cells, Mitral cells, tufted cells. Granule cells.
  • How does olfactory bulb represent smell? Story of discovery: 1930s Edgar Adrian, hedgehogs, noticed how patterns of excitation could create an “image” of the smell, using electrophysiology techniques.
  • Sokoloff method for tracking energy used by the brain with a marker for glucose uptake. Important work that led to PET and fMRI. Follows his own research from 70s in using this method to track energy use in the olfactory bulb as it is exposed to odors.
  • Confirms idea of a “smell image” or pattern of activation in the glomeruli. Started to fill in a “map” of the receptor sites on the bulb. 1990s.
  • Some “odor images” from the work of Michael Leon and Brett Johnson. [45]
  • Final point: The olfactory pathways are heavily modulated - sensitive to behavioral state: appetite, aversion, openness to experience, all affect flavor perception.
C11 Creating, Learning, and Remembering Smell
  • lateral olfactory tract — context output from the bulb to the olfactory cortex in the brain. Long in humans. What is its role?
  • importance of pyramidal cells. 100: capable of feedback excitation to stimulating cells. Thought important to memory. Damaged in dimentia patients.
  • 101: Olfactory cortex “serves as content-addressable memory for association of odor stimuli with memory traces of odors. “. Structures that support this claim. Herb rule - identifies activity that suggest memory and learning. Interesting parallels between odor recognition and face recognition.
  • 103: summary of functions of olfactory cortex. Not clear if perception of smell itself arises in ol. Cortex. Some research suggesting that it can detect the absence of the essential amino acids.
  • key ideas: knowledge of mechanisms for understanding memory and flavor; learning mechanism, may even detect amino acids.
  • [Point: Reinforcement learning takes place immediately in the olfactory cortex. Our experience of food is not a “passive awareness”. Because food is essential to survival, and omnivores have complex food / memory needs, learning and memory processes are crucial. The reward structure of the brain is involved. The olfactory cortex is smart.]

C18 Putting it all Together: The Human Brain Flavor System
  • Opening summary of the "human brain flavor system."
  • Reference and quote from Brillat-Savarin, the first “gastronome” . Nice continuity between early language and neurogastronomy. “The human brain has specific capabilities that makes the appreciation of flavor of unique importance to humans.”
  • Sensory system vs action system
  • Sensory system:
  • Flavor also produced by smell, taste, mouth-sense, sight, sound. Not just “volatile molecules reaching the olfactory bulb.
  • Multi-sensory integration, or “Supra-addivtivity” involves congruent repetition of combinations of stimuli. “internal brain image” of the flavor object.
  • read summary sentence, p. 160: “A consensus is emerging that simultaneous activation by a food of a common set of regions, including the orbitofrontal cortex, anterior insula and operculum, frontal operculum, and anterior cingulate Byrd’s, constitutes the distributed representation in our minds of a flavor object” [Think about this a minute....]
  • Flavor-action system
  • Chart on p. 161 matching brain structures to aspects of flavor perception and desire, motivation, and action. The action system includes emotional response, memory, decision making, plasticity (how the activity of the body/brain — in this case eating— changes the brain) Language, consciousness. (Each treated in next section. We sample the chapter on emotions.)
C19: Flavor and Emotions
  • emotions moves us toward action, but also reflect our internal state of desiring and wanting. What is diff between want and craving?
  • research from Monell Chemical Senses Institute. Cravings implicated in eating disorders. Dull diets stimulate craving. Marcia Pelchat and colleagues looked at parallels between food cravings and drug craving. In a study, one group of test subjects were on a monotonous diet and another on a normal diet. In brain imaging, the monotonous eaters produced strong activation when asked to imagine a favorite food. Supports hypothesis that there is a common circuitry to natural and pathological rewards (food and drugs). 168ff: discussion of brain structures implicated in the study. Hippocampus, insula, caudate nucleus. Caudate includes high concentration of dopamine. Also part of the striatum, which involves habits (which probably involve dopamine). When we are hungry, we can activate food memories and emotional responses in anticipation of the food.
  • [An implication of this for eating is that hunger plays a key role in satisfaction. The hungrier eater produces stronger anticipatory activation. “Hunger is the best relish.” “Images of desire” maybe be important to satisfaction. But also, this research suggests that an unsatisfied brain (one on a dull diet) is more likely to produce cravings . In a sense the brain demands satisfaction. read at 168. Digression on question: Does the industrial diet produce real satisfactions? Mixed evidence. ]
  • chocolate-satiety study (Dana Small) — test subjects eat chocolate to satiety while in imaging. Difference in activation can be thought of as a change in the flavor image (for chocolate) under conditions of craving and satisfaction. Mentions concept of “reward value” current in brain research. cool idea here is that our flavor images change with our hunger states.
C21: Flavor and Obesity
  • considers the case of french fries in relation to the flavor perception system. Salt, fat, and sweetness (SFS). Discusses the meat flavor from tallow, now artificially added. Adds in the rest of the typical fast food meal. Chased with coffee and a cookie. Coffee has over 600 volatile molecules. Point: the fast food meal involves sensory overload.
  • Overeating:
  • sensory overload;
  • caloric density; reduced roughage.
  • But also “Sensory-specific satiety” . Single flavors diminish appetite while multiple flavors amplify it. You can eat more food if it includes multiple flavors. The complexity of industrial flavors increases our ability to overconsume them. 187
  • long-term overstimulation of skin and membranes of the lips and mouth. Interesting research shows obese test subjects have more activation of these areas even while not eating. [this supports the idea of a learned behavior from food conditioning]
  • Conditioned overeating: Other research by Dana Small. You can induce extra eating in rats with conditioned stimuli (bell). Humans have wide field of potential conditioning stimuli.
  • Other research suggests that ineffective inhibitory circuits play a role in obesity.
  • Others speculate that the reward value of food for obese is too low. The brain doesn’t register enough pleasure from a normal diet.
  • Kessler: combination of SFS culprit (note that in Kessler’s theory several of the above theories are included.)
C27: Why Flavor Matters
  • brief summary.
  • Flavor at different life stages:
  • In the womb: flavors in amniotic fluid, rat study showing odor preference established pre-natally. Diet studies with pregnant women (using anise or carrot juice for eample) show similar results.
  • In infants: flavor and preference also communicated through breast milk
  • In childhood: research showing kids are hyper sensitive to SFS foods.
  • In adolescents.
  • Flavor and dieting in adults. Doesn’t work. 238: “key element missing in most discussions of diet is flavor”. Very important point. Cites Brownell’s “Food Fight” (2004) and Barbara Rolls.
  • In old age: research on loss of smell sense.

12. MAR 1

Assigned Work

  • Kessler, The End of Overeating, Chs 1-3 (p. 3-17) (14)
  • Gordon Shepherd, Neurogastronomy Chapters 11, 18, and 19 (24)


  • Review of resources for SW2: Assessing Industrial Food Systems

Kessler, The End of Overeating, Chs 1-7 pp. 3-45

[Kessler's basic argument:

  • Explaining overweight and obesity:
  • Highly palatable foods (high in SFS, little chewing, slurpable...) can overwhelm our homeostatic system, which would otherwise maintain consumption levels that sustain normal weight.
  • This leads to overconsumption.
  • The Food industry understands this and uses food science to created and market highly palatable foods.
  • C: This provides a good explanation for overweight and obesity in the US.


  • Some comments about approaching "unhealthy eating patterns" (expand list), some baseline data, and Kessler's basic theory.


  • obesity trend of the 1980s. by late 80s 1/3 of pop bt. 20 and 74 overweight. (2017: 42.4% obese (note: not just overweight). J
  • Historic comparisons: 1960-2000, average weight of women in their 20s goes from 128 to 157. Also other deciles. Data also revealed that some people were gaining a lot more than the average. In other words, the distribution was changing. Overweight people became disproportionately overweight. More outliers.


  • obesity is the result of eating too much food. Confusing to separate metabolism, etc. People underreport consumption. Studies to support claims. P.8 [Note some criticisms here: microbiome effects. Others argue that metabolic changes do occur to make significant weight reduction difficult.]
  • Homeostasis: tendency of body systems to maintain bodily states within a particular range of variation. Communication occurs throughout the body to this end. But homeostasis can’t explain weight gain. Homeostasic system can be overwhelmed by the “reward system”. Anticipations of reward motivate exertion.
  • Some animal studies show direct stimulation of reward seeking behavior. Stimulate the far-lateral hypothalamus” and animals overeat. Even to cross electrified floor. [Note basic explanation here.]
  • Can some kinds of food stimulate us to keep eating?


  • Palatability - def. a food with an agreeable taste, but in food science - a food that motivates more consumption.
  • Palatable foods engage sugar, salt, and fat, but also sensory cues. Research (13) on combined effects of sugar and fat (Drewnowski). Underlies many palatable features of food. Combinations of fat and sugar chosen over other mixes. Can make food hyperpalatable. Example of "hyper-palatability" in industry and as a research concept in food science.
  • 15: Research (rat study) showing that consumption of SFS optimized foods increases further consumption. Both obesity prone and obesity resistant rats over ate high SF foods.
  • Sclafani research. Neat fruit-loop lab detail. Just chillin' with his rats.: feeding rats a supermarket sample of palatable food makes them obese.
  • Some palatability research not in the reading:


  • Food industry experts corroborate Kessler’s point about SFS foods and overeating. It’s their strategy.
  • Layering” SFS: examples of foods that layer S F and S. (Gordy's lemon chicken, much like p. 20 "Chicken Pot Stickers"). List: White Chocolate Mocha Frapp, Bloomin’ Onions, Salads with high SFS dressings (“fat with a little lettuce”). [Remember, restaurants don’t have to provide nutritional information.]


  • Critical of “set point theory” more interested in version he calls “settling point” theory. A kind of equilibrium between appetite (which both a drive to eat and capacity to be satisfied and expenditure - physical work and body that burns calories effectively. Constant access to highly palatable foods drives up settling point. (Kind of acknowledges that there is wide variation in the hold (capture) of high SFS foods.
  • p. 25: Discussion with other people who find weight control challenging. note descriptions. Sight of favorite SFS foods causes salivation and tingling sensations. Important qualification: Food cravings are not unique to overweight people.


  • More theory: Reinforcing foods
  • Rewarding foods are reinforcing. Reinforcing measured by willingness to work for substance and whether other stimuli can become associated with it. (Shepard’s account helps show how this works.)
  • SFS Foods can be an effective reward even in the absence of hunger. Animal studies to show this. Research: rats will press levers to get SFS foods. A lot. P. 30. Confirms the idea that combinations of fat and sugar increase willingness to work for reward. Approaches reward structure of cocaine.
  • Conditioned place paradigm”. — tendency to prefer the location in which a reward was experienced. Party food at sport viewing events, for example. Rat study involving more and less preferred spaces. High SFS foods can override location preference.
  • Other influences: portion, concentration of rewarding ingredients, variety.


  • Neural account of high SFS / palatable foods. Neuron encodes when it fires more often from a stimuli. Complex patterns can be encoded from food experience.
  • Taste is predominant. “Orosensory self-stimulation”. Opioid circuitry stimulated by food. P. 37: mechanisms of the reward system. Imp of nucleus accumbens - a neural structure that governs reward.
  • Claims there is a mutually reinforcing effect between highly palatable foods and opioid circuits. Explains how emotional eating can reduce the pain associated with stress and depression.
  • Some evidence (Wooley p. 38) that highly palatable foods interfere with or override taste specific satiety tendency to get sated by a single taste. SFS combinations can override taste specific satiety. Stimulation of the opioid circuits in animals overrode boredom with single taste.

13. MAR 6

Assigned Work

  • Gordon Shepherd, Neurogastronomy Chapters 21 and 27 ()
  • Kessler, The End of Overeating, Ch 4-7 (20)
  • See reading notes above.


  • Food, Meaning, and the Brain

Food, Meaning, and the Brain

  • What are "food phenomena" that suggest the deep involvement of "meaning-making" and food?
  • Emotional eating - Can we hypothesize about this in light of Gordon/Kessler? Stress, SNS…?
  • Comfort foods — Conditioned place paradigm.
  • Ethnic eating and identity
  • Class and eating customs - associations of food and manner of eating with class membership (Dr. Oz story - crudities’ v “mixed veggies”. Obama’s arugula gaffe.)
  • Ethical eating —
  • Communal Eating — arguably, in trouble. Hard to meet diverse dietary requirements today. (Without going into things like texture preferences, etc.). The restaurant, happy hour menu, “apericena” solutions.
  • Christian "communion" - Eating god. Check out Jean Soler on this.
  • Entheogens - eating psychotropic substances to see god.
  • "Companionship" - etymology, Old French, "Compaignon" - One who breaks bread with another. Gets at the basic intimacy of eating together.
  • Meaningful feasting - Christian feast and fasting days, Thanksgiving, harvest eating.
  • Food and Romance - the "dinner date". Food intimacy before physical intimacy!
  • Terroir-based attachments - PNW Salmon, Jamon Iberico, baguettes in Paris, prosciutto e melone!
  • Meat ideology - ways that cultures associate meat (or their cuisine) with cultural superiority.
  • Food sensitivities in pregnancy - unexpected aversions and compulsions. Inutero flavor preferences and breast feeding flavor influences.(Shepard 234)

14. MAR 8

Assigned Work

  • Kessler, Chapters 27-32, p.(137-165) (28)
  • Rolls, Barbara, "The Role of Energy Density in the Overconsumption of Fat," American Society for Nutritional Sciences, 2000, 246-253. (7)
  • Notice of "Heavy Reading Days" coming in later March. Please read ahead over break.


  • Burkhard Bilger, "Can Babies Learn to Love Vegetables?," New Yorker, Nov 25, 2019 (12)
  • Tarragon & Moreno, "Role of Endocannabinoids on Sweet Taste Perception, Food Preference, and Obesity-related Disorders" Chemical Senses v. 43, 3-16, 2018. (13)

Harold McGee

  • Father of Neurogastronomy - gastronome who knows science. [46]

Kessler, Chapters 27-32

  • major claim: hyperpalatable foods don’t just change behaviors, but rewire our brains.
  • effective rewards change our feelings (Kagan 138). Reinforcement learning does this.
  • memory enhances futures to cues. “Cue-urge-reward-habit”
  • intense stimulants create desires for more.
  • phen-fen - discountinued drug combo — increases serotonin, decreases dopamine response (reward response). Obesity patients reported dramatic change in susceptibility to food cues.
  • Claim about mechanisms for conditioned hypereating: cues - priming - emotions.
  • Cues: images (commercials, product packaging), routines (driving by a drive through). Thought elaborates the cue - “elaborated thought” (may include recollection of good feelings, rationalizations, embellishments).
  • Priming: eating a bit primes our hunger — study at 149: test subjects given specific primes (pizza or ice cream), when presented with both after eating one or the other, eat more of the one they already ate.
  • Emotions: “emotional eating” - brain imaging study - after inducing a negative mood in some subjects, greater activity in reward areas to anticipated milkshake. Stress also, but profound stress can dampen reward circuits.
  • Having developed a conditioned response to hyperpalatable foods, thought suppression often fails to limit desire. “White bear problem”
  • Major claim: conditioned hypereating is a syndrome - condition related to cluster of symptoms and effects.
  • ”disinhibited patterns of eating” - snacks, evening a nighttime meals, “continuous eating”. Willingness to “work harder” for food.
  • Reno Diet Heart Study — reanalysis of a 1985 large longitudinal study of obesity and heat disease. But the survey instruments contained items related to conditioned hypereating (159). Reanalysis showed correlation with obsess participants.
  • Dana Small neural imaging co-research with Kessler: people scoring high on factors of conditioned hypereating showed neural response (including amygdala) from smell and flavor cues.
  • ”Externality theory” 70s theory — Schachter cracker study (!): thin and overweight test subjects eat sandwiches, some don’t, some fill out survey about food (priming). Result: thin sandwich eaters eat fewer crackers and thin non-sandwich survey takers (no surprise), but overweight sandwich eaters eat more cracker whether or not they ate sandwiches first. Hypothesis: visual cues more powerful for overweight.
  • Similar results from Nisbett’s roast beef sandwich study.
  • But then, 1981. Judith Rodin critiqued externality theory, with “restraint theory” — idea that differences bt people with or without food control was “restraint” or will power difference, not a conditioned response to food. Restraint theory tells you that you just need more willpower to change your diet.

Rolls, Barbara, "The Role of Energy Density in the Overconsumption of Fat,"

  • The nutrition rock star herself. [47]
  • [Framing the problem: Our evolutionary challenge, under typical conditions of more frequent food insecurity, is to seek energy (calories). In Kessler's theory, this explains the greater sensitivity of the reward system and neural response to hyperpalatable foods. Rolls is looking at the same mechanisms, but by comparing energy dense and nutrient dense foods.]
  • Energy density theory - High energy dense, low volume foods cause lower levels of satiety than nutrient dense foods of similar palatability. Or, diff macronutrients have different consumption patterns and satiety effects.
  • Pre-load studies - test subjects are given food before a meal time (the pre-load) and then mealtime consumption is observed. Pre-loads that reduce voluntary consumption are inferred to have greater satiety.
  • Back to "Does fat make you fat?" - Maybe the energy density of fat, like the density of highly palatable foods, makes you less satiated, but it's not the fat itself that is less satisfying, rather the energy density (aka ratio of volume/cal). Old idea: fat has a unique ability to make you fat. But these studies did not control for the confounding effect that energy dense foods have less weight and volume that nutrient dense foods. So we drew the wrong conclusion: fat makes you fat. Rather, all energy dense foods have higher ratios of calories to volume. You are sated by volume.
  • New research, when controlled for energy density, fats and carbs have similar effects on satiety (measured as subsequent food intake after a "pre load" of some food under study). So, "fast carbs" and fats have similar effects. It's not fat that makes you fat, it's palatable, energy dense foods -- because they are less stating, we eating more of them. Another way to put it is that we eat for volume.
  • water as beverage vs. water in foods (as in youtube) - Casserole v. soup study water study. Added volume from water in soup reduced subsequent intake, but not if water was present as a beverage.
  • 269S: studies suggesting that we eat by weight, not by energy intake. So the same amount of food by weight, if energy dense, will increase our calorie intake.
  • Note: High volume, high nutrition, low density foods are typical of humble cuisines. Grains, legumes, water filled vegetables.

Burkhard Bilger, "Can Babies Learn to Love Vegetables?

  • 1st theme: The Good Tastes Study - Susan Johnson U of Col. pediatrics. Baby taste tests.
  • 2nd theme: Calvin Schwabe - veterinary epidemiologist UC Davis. Unmentionable Cuisine . We're omnivores. We're passing up alot of food, like cats and beetles. In a sense we are our tastes -- supertasters, low tasters/high sugar preference. Julie Menella from Monell Chemical Senses. omnivores/brain plasticity (recall Shepard)
  • 3rd theme: Saskia Sorrosa, CEO of Fresh Bellies -- Ecuadoran, didn't like baby food options for her daughter. Represents traditional cuisine argument for baby food (at the end of the article you get another example): babies eat adult foods, specially prepared. Palette Training - [interesting idea that our palattes are trained, even before birth, and in early childhood (Mennella - everything gets through to the fetus). Possibly the same systems and mechanisms as you would encounter in changing your diet (we are all Judge 7). Fresh Bellies is doing very well (new food economy!) Their formula: no added sugar, natural (acid) preservation instead of industrial pasteurization. 3x price (maybe another 50 cent egg lesson?)
  • baby food industry back story -- 9 billion - mostly fruit and sweetened vegetables. Amy Bentley, Inventing Baby Food. Before vitamin discovery, veggies seen as source of illness due to unclean conditions.
  • 1921 Harold Clapp, first baby food. Some details there. 1969 baby food scandals - contamination and research on rats showing hypertension from baby food. 1/3 of baby food homemade.
  • 4th theme: Inside Gerber's baby food testing facility. 2/3 market share! "baby black ops site". Judge #7. Baby sugar bliss points are twice adults. From 1970 - 2000 childhood obesity tripled. 7 month-olds drinking soda. Gerber adds fruit to everything, not added sugar anymore. [But what sort of palette training is fruit and veg? Or yours? How does your diet train your palette?]
  • Palette training claim: it takes 10 tries. Most parents give up after 3-4 tries.
  • New industrial baby and early childhood foods in development. More squeezable tubes for delivery.
  • 5th theme - from baby food to military foods (big theme in food nutrition awareness historically was from military preparedness. Many battles lost to scurvy and malnutrition). How fighter pilots eat.
  • Closing scene at African market in Maine. How people from non-industrial cuisines feed their babies. But you have to have a cuisine to do this. Americans have an "interrupted cuisine"

Tarragon & Moreno, "Role of Endocannabinooids on Sweet Taste Perception, Food Preference, and Obesity-related Disorders"

  • You could work from the abstract on this one. I just wanted you to see some technical research to balance the Nyer article. Also, the research paradigm in this article connects with the "conditioned hypereating" theory of Kessler and depends upon findings in neurogastronomy.
  • Summary: Claims that highly palatable food is part of obesity problem. References mechanisms of food choice: reward system, environmental cues, internal factors. The article is a literature review of: 1. research on how our food tastes emerge and get fixed, especially sweet taste; 2. how genetics, experience, lifestyle, etc. influence palette; 3. the role of the "endocannabinoid system (ECS)" in setting the palette.
  • Some highlights: research on parallel between food cravings and drug cravings (also in Kessler and Shepard). Details of sweet receptors (recently found in the gut, adipose tissue, and the brain, as well). There is a genetic dimension to sweet taste perception. p. 4 - people with particular alleles of the T1R genes have greater sweetness discrimination (note, they may have a more multi-sensory experience of sweetness). (table 1 summarizes some of this research).
  • ECS (endocannabinoid system) - mechanisms. [Digresssion: From wiki page on ECS: "A related study found that endocannabinoids affect taste perception in taste cells[60] In taste cells, endocannabinoids were shown to selectively enhance the strength of neural signaling for sweet tastes, whereas leptin decreased the strength of this same response. While there is need for more research, these results suggest that cannabinoid activity in the hypothalamus and nucleus accumbens is related to appetitive, food-seeking behavior.[57]"
  • eCBs are synthesized as part of the chemical system that gives us hedonic responses from food. Example practical studies: Argueta p. 6. "Dysregulation" of the ECS is related to decrease in pleasure from food. Some research, p. 7, on effects of high O6/O3 ratios on ECS. Connections also between ECS and inflammation, depression.
  • from conclusion.

SW3: Neuro-gastronomy and Dietary Change

  • Stage 1: Please write an 800 hundred word maximum answer to the following question by Wednesday, March 22st, 2023, 11:59pm.
  • Topic: In this essay, imagine that you are giving advice to a friend who is trying to move to a healthier, plant-based diet. Assume that your friend's diet is unhealthy in the typical ways true of Americans. Your friend expresses great frustration in trying to change their diet. In light of this unit, what would you explain to them about how we are attached to our diets? What advice would you have for them about how to be more successful in changing their diet?
  • Advice about collaboration: Collaboration is part of the academic process and the intellectual world that college courses are based on, so it is important to me that you have the possibility to collaborate. I encourage you to collaborate with other students, but only up to the point of sharing ideas, references to class notes, and your own notes, verbally. Collaboration is also a great way to make sure that a high average level of learning and development occurs in the class. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to NOT share text of draft answers or outlines of your answer. Keep it verbal. Generate your own examples.
  • Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way. You will lose points if you do not follow these instructions:
  1. To assure anonymity, you must remove your name from the the "author name" that you may have provided when you set up your word processing application. For instructions on removing your name from an Word or Google document, [click here].
  2. Format your answer in double spaced text, in a typical 12 point font, and using normal margins. Do not add spaces between paragraphs and indent the first line of each paragraph.
  3. Do not put your name in the file or filename. You may put your student ID number in the file, but not in the filename. Save your file for this assignment with the name: Gastronomy.
  4. To turn in your assignment, log into, click on the Gastronomy dropbox.
  5. If you cannot meet a deadline, you must email me about your circumstances (unless you are having an emergency) before the deadline or you will lose points.
  • Stage 2: Please evaluate four student answers and provide brief comments and a score. Review the Assignment Rubric for this exercise. We will be using the Flow and Content areas of the rubric for this assignment. Complete your evaluations and scoring by Wednesday, March 29, 2023 11:59pm.
  • To determine the papers you need to peer review, open the file called "#Key.xls" in the shared folder. You will see a worksheet with saint names in alphabetically order, along with animal names. Find your saint name and review the next four (4) animals' work below your animal name. If you get to the bottom of the list before reaching 4 animals, go to the top of the list and continue.
  • Use this Google Form to evaluate four peer papers. Submit the form once for each review.
  • 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 back to the key and review the next animal's paper, continuing until you get four reviews. Do not review more than four papers.
  • Stage 3: I will grade and briefly comment on your writing using the peer scores as an initial ranking. Assuming the process works normally, most of my scores probably be within 1-2 points of the peer scores, plus or minus.
  • Stage 4: Back-evaluation: After you receive your peer comments and my evaluation, take a few minutes to fill out this quick "back evaluation" rating form: [48]. Fill out the form for each reviewer, but not Alfino. You must do the back evaluation to receive credit for the whole assignment. Failing to give back-evaluations unfairly affects other classmates.
  • Back evaluations are due Saturday, April 15, 11:59pm.

Some lunch strategies and recipes in the spirit of Barbara Rolls "Volumetrics"

  • This is just one strategy for a part of your diet, but it might appeal to some of you. It is plant-based, high fiber & protein, and consistent with NSP and Barbara Rolls theory of volumetrics.
  • Lunch strategy:
  • Part A: A rotation of several "protein-veg" salads that prep in about an hour and last 4 days.
  • Part B: A fruit salad that preps in about 20 minutes and last 4 days.
  • Part A
  • Part B

15. MAR 20: Unit 4: Food Culture

Assigned Work

  • Barber, Dan. Chapter 12: "Land" from The 3rd Plate (158-173) (15)
  • Ruhlman, "How the A&P Changed the Western World" (29-42) (13)
  • SW3: Neurogastronomy and Dietary Change

Pre-supermarket culture in Italy

  • [Digression on pre-supermarket food culture in Italy.]

Ruhlman, "How the A&P Changed the Western World"

  • Modern supermarket: 40-50,000 items. Strong market pressure not to miss consumer preference. In '75 only 9,000.
  • Some evidence that lots of choices undermines rational decision making 31. 15 types of eggs. not just small, med, large.
  • Background of stores against which rise of "A&P tea company" took place. George Gilman, Great American Tea Company, then Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company. Started with a brand of tea. Higher profit margin than groceries.
  • Three innovations: brand, premiums (gifts for purchases made), trading stamps. baking powder a novel product (note, not in Italy). Other early competitors: Grand Union. Brands: consistency, purity (closed containers).
  • Importance of branding. Old grocer sold unbranded staples, only competed on price. Canning and boxed foods allow for branding. (Commercial paper bag and cardboard box created during this time.) Also allows for centralized food processing. A&Ps opened at 7 stores a day for a while. Also led to modern supply chain.
  • A&P: 1900: $5million, 1925: $350 million, Today: $4.8billion. Power of scaling up supply chains.
  • Early 20th century: self-service. Piggly Wiggly. [49]
  • 1930s: shopping cart.
  • 1920s: refrigeration (allowed for meats and frozen foods). p 41: King Kullen -- sig: bigger store, located off main street. 1930. Depression era.

Barber, Ch 12, "Land" from The 3rd Plate

  • 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 -- [[50]]
  • 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.
  • 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.

16. MAR 22

Assigned Work (Heavy Reading Day)

  • Rachel Lauden, Cuisine and Empire Introduction and Chapter 6, "Christian Cuisine"
  • Watch Mother Noella segment from Pollan's "Cooked" series (video file in Shared folder)


  • Minor point from Grocery store discussion -- Imagining a future supply chain. Examples from CSA and Eataly. Specialty shops often curate authentic foods in a supply chain.
  • What is your culinary cosmos? (Notes from C1 of Lauden.) [51]
  • Context for Christian cuisine: Biblical vegetarianism. The three plates of the Judaic food convenant. [52]
  • Rachel Lauden, Cuisine and Empire Introduction and Chapter 1, "Mastering Grain Cookery, 20,000 to 300 bce", p. 1-55 (54)[53]

Mother Noella Cheese Segment from "Cooked"

  • Story Mother Noella and the appreciation of creation through cheese. The bacteria come from the earth, from death, and hold the promise of nourishing life! A good example of culinary cosmos thinking.
  • Story of the wooden cheese vat. Background on dangers of pre-industrial milk and cheese processing. She switches to steel barrel and gets ecoli bacteria. Experiment. Lactobacillus in the wood digest lactose in milk, turns to lactic acid which kills the ecoli bacteria. Health inspectors relent.
  • Loss with "blank slate" processing. Less diversity of bacteria, less diversity of flavor.
  • [US limits importation of soft cheeses, like soft Percorino.]
  • US approach - lowest quality milk goes into industrial cheese making.
  • Handling of cheese during fermentation determines flavor profiles and texture. "Feet of God"
  • Mother Noella at 17:30. Death and the promise of life. Resurrection.
  • Connection between cheese ecology and other ecologies like fields to forests.
  • War and peace on the cheese rind!

Rachel Lauden, Cuisine and Empire Introduction and Chapter 6, "Christian Cuisine"

  • 100-400 c.e. --
  • Early Christian "communions" were simple communal meals, often in homes. Not unique to small sects. Separation of food rituals from Romans - don't eat meat sacrificed to Rome.
  • Bread as metaphor for Christian community (read p. 168).
  • Separation from Judaic food rituals - blood not prohibited, pork ok. Focus on humble low meat cuisines. Meat as luxury. Avoid alcohol and sweets. Fasts on Wednesday and Friday. Ascetic communities tried raw food diets. Cooking thought to be connected to passions. Early Christian take on some elements of Stoic thought, also about food.
  • Garum, a fish sauce prized in Roman times, prohibited as it was thought to change cold and wet humors of fish to hot and dry, stimulating passions.
  • 350 - 1450 c.e. --
  • Constantine's toleration of Christianity in 313. Shift to Constantinople and Byzantine Church as Western Empire falls apart. Christianity becomes official religion of Eastern empire. Byzantine court cuisine closer to Hellenistic cuisine of Eastern empire.
  • Laws ending sacrifice.
  • No meat or dairy on half the days of the year. Influence of Galen's "Humoral eating theory"
  • Expansion of Christianity into slavic lands. Interesting note on apparent "summit" in Kiev
  • 1100-1500 c.e. --
  • Increase in wealth in Europe led to pan-European Catholic high cuisine. Nobility of Europe increasing an intermarried network. Nobles travelled with cooks and cookbooks. Catholic monastic orders like Cistercians operated across Europe, maintained food and culinary traditions of Catholic cuisine.
  • Theory of Christian culinary cosmos developed as reconquest of Arab domination of Europe led to recovery of Galen and theory of humoral eating. Also, Islamic cuisine influences: sugar, marzipan, almonds, eggplant (caponata), oranges "syrup," "sherbert," "candy" have arabic derivations. Disgression on the famous "La Pasticceria Maria Grammatico, Erice, Sicily" [54]
  • Odd feature of high Catholic cuisine - use of disguise and fantasy. Sieves molds to shape foods into other shapes Read at 179. Development of sauces using blood distinguished Catholic cuisine from islamic and jewish. Meanwhile, humble cuisines varied by region and available grains, meats from small animals and birds more than cows and pigs.
  • Technology - Promoted also by monasteries, mills became more prevalent. Big change in household food labor equation: An hour on the "rotary quern" a day for a family of five. Salted and dried fish (cod) come in from the north. (Still common in European food stores, not so much American.) Rotary Quern images
  • 1450-1650 c.e. -- Global Expansion of Catholic Cuisine, esp of Iberian Peninsula.
  • [Side note on Alfred Crosby, The Columbian Exchange [55]]
  • Spanish and Portuguese exploration and conquest: Cuba, Mexico, Aztecs, Phillipines. Jesuits to the East: Goa, China, Japan.
  • Early global food industries run by Jesuits and order of nuns. Jesuits: sugar, cacao, and mate' from Americas. Nuns operated plantations in Peru, Mexico, Manilla, Macao, Guatemala, ...
  • Jesuits operated major cacao plantations in Guatemala and the Amazon, shipping to their operations in Spain, Italy, and S.E. Asia. Played a major role in the technology transfer of chocolate making to Europe.
  • European encounter with first peoples and religions of Americas sharpened differences of culinary cosmos. Some human sacrifice, unfamiliar foods: insects, bats, spikers, worms...
  • Catholics in Asia - Jesuits in Goa, India. More exchange, intermarriage, curries and sauces,
  • Importance of technology: Story of Maize processing. Mesoamericans understood how to treat maize with alkali (nixtamalization). Brings out vitamins like B3. Lack of this technology in southern Italy and the American south led to pellagra outbreaks (lack of B3).
  • 1650 and beyond
  • Emergence of Modern cuisines as European nobility decline, Protestantism changes view of culinary cosmos. Modern cuisine emerges in growth of capitalism and secular power. National cuisines emerge with nation states.

17. MAR 27

Assigned Work (Heavy Reading Day)

  • Gopnik, Adam, "Who Made the Restaurant?" from The Table Comes First, 2012, (pp. 13-57). (44)
  • Ogle, Maureen, In Meat We Trust, C2, "We Are Here To Make Money" (26-44) (18)


  • Re-imagining the restaurant

Re-imagining the Restaurant

  • Since the opening of the first modern restaurants in Paris around 1780, the concept of the restaurant has developed, especially in the 21st century. Think of the variety of eateries and restaurants we have now, from food trucks, to traditional fast food, to healthy concept fast food.
  • Use your philosophical imaginations to think through a new combination of values that a new kind of restaurant might realize. During our discussion of the Gopnik piece we will develop a list of "restaurant values" -- both of the first modern restaurant and the ones that followed. Then, in group discussion, try to think about what you can't get from the contemporary array of restaurants, but something you would value. You ideas may range from things you would like to see more restaurants do to kinds of restaurants that do not exist.

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, caterer.
  • Traits of modern restaurant: waiters, menus, tables, mirrors, closed kitchen, seduction, silences..(privacy in public)
  • personal experiences -- HoJo to Paris - Grand Vefour -- restaurants and writers' scenes. (search "Howard Johnson's Simple Simon and the Pie Man—1950's images" to see the original HoJo restaurant sign.). Interesting how many of the characteristics are in common between the two restaurants.
  • 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.
  • Gender dimension to the new restaurant: Women could go together in public (!). Also, the restaurant can make you feel rich. Fancier than your stuff. 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"
  • The modern restaurant also developes alongside gastronomy. Among the first, Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste.
  • Adopted “Russian service” (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) -- note how this changes the motivations of restauranteurs to be entrepreneurial. (Wealth of Nations, 1776)
  • 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. alcohol a myopic drug / caffeine a far sighted drug. 33-37, importance of. (Digress to consider how we handle this now and in different places.) note Paris / London comparisons p. 33. The cafe is a hangout, unlike the more formal restaurant.
  • Brings in Pierre 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). With greater food security, enjoying food for its own sake change form vice to virtue (mention Happiness history here)
  • 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?

Ogle, Maureen, In Meat We Trust, C2, "We Are Here To Make Money"

  • Tells the story of the rise of the "dressed beef" supply chain, and the fortunes of Swift, an innovator.
  • Opens with Summer 1882 building of Swift's warehouse at the tip of Manhattan. Backs up to tell the story of the rail monopolies practices of overcharging for shipping costs of live beef. (29) details.
  • Bringing animals into the city live was becoming impractical, a health hazard, and unsightly (also happenening in Europe, French in the lead in developing the modern abattoir). Note: old slaughterhouses could handle from 1-12 animals a day. But there were hundreds of them in a city like NY.
  • Boards of Health moving against small butchers. Early modern abattoir: Communipaw. Communipaw abattoir [56]. Could handle 2,000 animals a day.
  • Courts battles as butchers argued that regulation of their busines was unconstitutional. The "Slaughterhouse Cases" at the Supreme Court.
  • Another version of this fight in the Vanderbilt’s proposal to build a big slaughterhouse in central Manhattan. NIMBY issue with local residents. Vanderbilt gets his stockyard and abattoir at West 59th Street, NYC.
  • Live shipped animal also suffered in transit, meat damaged, lost 200 pounds.
  • 34-35: initial account of slaughter process. We’ll see more of this in ethics unit.
  • 36: Legal fights over forced closure of private slaughterhouses. Supreme Court “slaughterhouse cases” affirmed authority of municipalities to regulate slaughter and create municipal slaughterhouses.
  • 40: Before Swift, other entrepreneurs tried shipping dressed beef. Hammond. Refrigertor cars (with ice, not compressors) in use and developing.
  • Swift's success: read at 41. (get images of Chicago stockyards). Era of "cheap beef"
  • Stop here for today. Part two of this reading for Wednesday, March 29
  • 46: Philip Armour story -- not a meat guy, but understood how to corner the market with futures contracts. Went to Chicago to build a pork processing plant. Enters the New York market along with Swift.
  • 50: Interesting point about meat culture and American culture: read. Choice meats available to all classes.
  • Meat Ideology -- 19th/early 20th century idea that meat protein is special and accounts for European hegemony. (add notes: Japan responds by developing "Kobe" meat culture.)
  • Meat Bubble - profits of 33%, era of free range livestock production with very low costs, ending. 1870: one steer per 5 acres, 1880: one steer per 50-90 acres, due to overgrazing. 52. Bubble bursts.
  • Margins on dressed beef were actually very low. Demanded high volume to be profitable. Byproducts were important.
  • Beef Trust -- already a focus on the Railroad Trusts, Congress investigates collusion in pricing. 57ff. 1888.
  • 1890: Sherman Antitrust Act.

18. MAR 29

Assigned Work

  • Andrews, Geoff. Chapter 2: "The Critique of 'Fast Life'" The Slow Food Story (pp. 29-47). (18)
  • Ogle, Maureen, In Meat We Trust, C2, "We Are Here To Make Money" (44-62) (18)


  • Unit 5 Student Reports on Food Ethics documentaries. Assignment start.

Unit 5 Food Ethics Documentary Assignment

  • This assignment invites you to view one of the documentaries (or several short documentaries) on food ethics (either the ones listed under Documentaries_specific_to_Food_Ethics_and_Animal_Slaughter or one of your own choosing and report briefly (3-8 minutes) to the class on the item you viewed.
  • Start by reviewing the choices I have found. or consider looking for your own. Then fill out this google form: Selection of Unit 5 Food ethics documentaries. Fill out the form by Wednesday, March 30, 12 noon for 5 points. If you want to pair up with others in the class, and even do a group viewing, please arrange that. In class, we will reconcile some of the different presentation dates.
  • Then watch your documentary. When you see the list of presentation dates, if you see other students presenting on the same resources on different dates try to adjust your presentation dates to match.
  • On the date of your presentation, give a very short overview and reflection on the resource, offering clips if you wish. These presentations are informal and will all receive 15 points.

Small Group Discussion: How Fast is your Food Culture?

  • For this short group discussion, think of times in your current or past life where you enjoyed "slow life", the kind of experience of food and conviviality described by slow food advocates. For example:
  • A group house diner that lingers and leads to great conversation or other fun.
  • A friend comes to dinner, maybe you cook together,
  • A meal out, no hurry, lingering while the restaurant empties out.
  • Coffee/tea with a friend, conversation goes on past the drinks.
  • Meaningful wasting of time. Sleeping in, pottering about, seconds on coffee and breakfast....
  • Share your stories (and feel free to say you don't have this sort of experience!), but then shift the group discussion to try to identify what, if anything, is valuable about "slow life"?
  • Alternate line of thought: Does our cell phone behavior make it harder to achieve “slow life” pleasures?

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 pleasure" 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. Restoration and preservation of historical food systems.
  • Mention experience with Guido and the ancient grains seminar. Photos.

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). Especially focused on speed.
  • [In terms we have been using, Slow Food manifesto calls into question the "culinary cosmos" of the industrial lifestyle when it compromises basic human modes of experiencing pleasure in authentic and just food. ]
  • 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. [57]
  • Castell's theory of time-space compression -- capitalism more and more about speed of transactions. circulation 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.
  • Victoria de Grazia, Irresistible Empire: America's Advance through 20th Century Europe -- American hegemony in food expressed in "reduction" of all class and value distinctions in food. Rich and poor eat McD's.
  • 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, I think)
  • 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: "A 54-point charter was developed, encouraging high quality local food and drink, general conviviality and the opposition to cultural standardisation." (from Cittaslow wiki)

Small Group Discussion: Slow food culture

  • Does Slow Food culture require a loss of productivity or is it more about reclaiming some of your time for an essential activity, or both?
  • Does the slow food movement present an attractive ideal for you? Or do you find yourself agreeing with Leadbeater that "fast culture is the answer"?
  • For those of you for whom it is an attractive ideal, identify 3-5 ways that you might implement slow food culture in your life?

19. APR 3: Unit 5: Ethical Issues

Assigned Work


  • Reports on documentary viewing. Reconciling reporting dates.
  • Matthew Nickel, "How Swine in NC affect real people"

Winders and Ransom, "Introduction to the Global Meat Industry"

  • Intro
  • major concerns and questions: expansion of global meat industry makes several problems worse: environmental damage, effects on climate change, clean water, food insecurity, world hunger, consumer health, workers' rights and well-being, and (not least of all) the treatment of animals.
  • Note: the ethical case against meat is not limited to the problem of animal ethics. Some of the non-animal ethics problems can be ameliorated by not participating in the industrial supply chain.
  • Paradoxically, increased meat production can create food insecurity for some. 2.
  • Global meat industry is a product of gov't and industry collaborating:
  • Overproduces food animals relative to population.
  • Creates dangers for environment and workers. (esp. from hyperslaughter)
  • Global Meat Industry, 1960-2016
  • Per capita consumption doubled from 1960 to 2016: 20kg/person/year to 40. Mostly in Global North.
  • US has highest consumption by this data: 113.9kg/person/year (250 pounds a year! 4.8 pounds a week.)
  • 45 million metric tons (MMT) to 259 MMT.
  • $65 billion to about $400 billion.
  • US meat exports '60 to '15 -- 2.6 MMT to 27 MMT -- We're not doing this to feed us?
  • Note meat consumption increases occurred while population was also increasing. Population increase 1960-2016 3 billion to 7.4.
  • Note that US has declined from peak consumption, also some Europeans, esp Denmark, Netherlands, and French.
  • Increases in numbers of animals: 270% for pigs and 900% for chickens. Over 1.4 billion cows and pigs.
  • Meat exports: most from global north. Asian and emerging industrial countries big importers. (Meat consumption follows wealth increases.) p. 12: increases in China, for example, 3.5kg to 57.6kg, Mexico almost tripled, Russia doubled.
  • How did global meat grow so much?
  • 1. Increases in feed grain production. Now more global feed grain production than food grain production (rice and wheat). Along with ag tech to put more land into production, GE corn and soybeans increased yields.
  • 2. Trade policies - WTO - promotes free trade agreements for meat import/export.
  • 3. increased corporate concentration. both production and processing.
  • Concentration of processing produced scaling up. Read from p. 15. (Recall Maureen Ogle's history chapter.)
  • former communist countries became markets.
  • Consequences of global meat for consideration
  • 1. Corporate concentration - Global food corporations exert significant power over farmers and national governments. Many poor countries with food insecurity export meat to wealthier countries.
  • 2. Tension bt. cheap meat and food insecurity - Smallholder meat production in decline from competition.
  • 3. Social and environmental injustice. Many environmental effects of meat production fall disproportionately on poor countries and poor within rich countries.

Age of Slaughter vs. Natural Life Span

  • In thinking about the research on animal awareness and consciousness, we are becoming more sensitive to the idea that animals are indeed aware of their lives, many form friendships, have strong individual preferences, and can understand more about what is going on around them than we used to think. This is sentience. Many people have the intuition that there is greater moral harm in mistreating or ending the life of a sentient creature, and more harm the more sentient. Some might say this is “speciesism” — an arbitrary preference for animals like us — but others would say that suffering is worse if you are self-aware and have complex emotions. (Cf. Oysters and mussels.). So, to draw the practical conclusion, it might be morally worse to kill an animal at a young age who has an awareness of their lifespan.
  • 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 old; Natural life span: 6 to 10 years
  • Chickens: Slaughtered at 6 weeks old; 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.
  • Hens lay eggs up to 6 to 7 years, live 2-3 years longer.
  • Turkeys: Slaughtered at 5 to 6 months old; Natural life span: 2 to 6 years
  • Ducks/Geese: Slaughtered at 7 to 8 weeks old; Natural life span: domestic ducks: 6 to 8 years; geese from 8 to 15 years.
  • Cattle: “Beef” cattle slaughtered at 18 months old; Natural life span: 15 to 20 years
  • Dairy cows slaughtered at 4 to 5 years old; Natural life span: 18 to 25+ years
  • Veal Calves: Slaughtered at 16 weeks old; Natural life span: 18 to 25+ years
  • Goats: Slaughtered at 3 to 5 months old; Natural life span: 12 to 14 years
  • Rabbits: Slaughtered at 10 to 12 weeks old; Natural life span: 8 to 12+ years
  • Lambs: Slaughtered at 6 to 8 weeks old for “young lamb” and under 1 year for all other; Natural life span: 12 to 14 years
  • Horses/Donkeys: Slaughter age varies. Horses from racing industry are culled young; Natural life span: 30 to 40 years

20. APR 5

Assigned Work

  • Genoways, The Chain, C7, “From Seed to Slaughter” 97-112 (15)


  • Reports on documentary viewing.
  • Student presentations:
  • sofia, Infiltrating Florida's Animal-Slaughter Underworld 5-Apr
  • anna, Meat and Climate 5-Apr
  • claire e, Meat and Climate 5-Apr
  • elizabeth, Meat and Climate 5-Apr
  • emily, Soyalism 5-Apr [60]
  • ian, Soyalism 5-Apr
  • marissa, Soyalism 5-Apr

Genoways, The Chain, C7, “From Seed to Slaughter”

  • Hog farming in the US. 674 farms, average of 26 pigs per farm, but contract farms are much larger. [61]
  • Story of LB pork. Lynn Becker, multi-generational pig farmer, hoping to boost from 50,000 to 100,000 pigs per year. This is big.
  • get a call from PETA about a breeding operation he had recently bought: 6,000 sows, 10s of 1,000 of piglets. MowMar farms. “Farrow to wean operation.”
  • secret video. P. 99. Becker genuinely upset, but also worried about a contract cancellation from Hormel. 1 million loan at stake. Just like the chicken farmers under contract to firms like Purdue.
  • Historical background on the industrialization of hog farms in the US:
  • We protected small farms from corporate vertical monopolies, but some of the small farms adopted the same strategy. Also, corporate producers found ways around the laws. Note historical reference to the Meat Trust, which we read about from Ogle.
  • North Carolina example of industrial growth. Containment breeches in 1999. Corporations sue for restraint of trade and make deals with states. Many small farms sold out, others took contracts. Perverse effects from the agreements: motivated fast investment in light of the expiration dates of the agreement.
  • 2002 Hormel gets permission to increase kill floor line speed. 9,000 to 10,500 /day. Note the standardization process. Single breeds with predictable fat ratios. Walmart demands identical pork shops, so you need identical pigs. Read list of chemicals and measure farmers take to earn the “red box” premium (107).
  • How do you process 7.7 million hogs a year! With supply chain precision: 175 trailers x 170 hog x 260 days.
  • Back to Lynn Becker
  • meet the Harvard MBA, Weihs who figures out the profitability of a “farrow to wean” operation. NPPII in North Carolina. Pigs “treated like royalty”. “We are a factory. You wouldn’t want your car not to be made in a factory”.
  • But then you learn that the model he developed was very vulnerable to price fluctuations. He sells his interest and moves on!
  • rumors of bankruptcy at NPPII, decline in “husbandry”, worker terminated and blows the whistle. Parallel to the story at LB Pork operation.
  • Mistreatment of animals as an effect of industrial scale and volatility.

21. APR 12

Assigned Work

  • Milligan, Tony, Animal Ethics: The Basics, Chapter 1


  • Reports from documentary viewing.

  • Slaughter and Hyperslaughter
  • Some Ethical Arguments about Food
  • SCP: Short Critical Paper on the Ethics of Eating - Assigned
  • Estabrook, "Hogonomics" Gastronomica

Slaughter vs. Hyperslaughter

  • A few slides from some research on industrial slaughter. I will present this power point in class.

Estabrook, "Hogonomics"

  • [Flying pig farm sounds alot like the farm in "The Last Pig"]
  • 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 (industrial sows 2.5 litters/year vs. FP: no crates, 20-25% fewer piglets, self-weaning,
  • Heritage piglet: $120, industrial piglet $50.
  • FP pigs, free range (400 pigs on 20-30 acres), industrial pigs about 5-8 square feet per pig, always indoors
  • FP pigs live 6-9 months instead of 6 months for industrial.
  • Heritage pigs retain natural behaviors vs. industrial
  • Food diffs p. 145. No automatic anti-biotics for FP pigs
  • Labor diffs. Industrial: 1 employee per 2,700 pigs. FP: 1 employee per 170 pigs.
  • Differences in slaughter and "kill fee".
  • Saline injected pink meat used to mask dry meat without flavor. Cosumers now trust only pink ham.

Some of the standard arguments on the ethics of eating animals

  • Ecological Arguments
  • Following the UN FAO study, "Livestock's Long Shadow," industrial meat production is one of the biggest (and possible the biggest) contributors to climate change. It is also responsible for a wide range of adverse ecological impacts such as desertification, rain forest depletion, unsustainable water use, dislocation of small scale farmers, geo-political conflict, undermining sovereignty, sanitation issues (esp from pigs), algae blooms, dead zones, etc.
  • Arguments from suffering. Utilitarian arguments.
  • Singer: Recall the "equal happiness" principle and Principle of Utility. Moral concern about the suffering of animals, combined with the fact that their consumption is no longer necessary for us, should lead us to reduce or eliminate animal foods, at least from creatures that can suffer (some debate about clams and oysters, for example. Plant "sentience" is a complicating factor as well)
  • Rights based arguments.
  • Regan: animals are "subjects of a life" - see also age of slaughter information. We should extend rights from humans to animals because they share this important "rights justifying" trait. Even if animals are not "persons," they have an interest in "having a life" that cannot be overridden without argumentation. This view can be combined with a speciesist claim that humans might prioritize human rights over animal rights in some circumstances such as medical research or subsistence agriculture or food insecurity.
  • Agrarian arguments supporting limited meat production
  • Agrarian arguments about "default animal production". Treating animal foods like a luxury. Other agrarians might advocate non-food use of animals or use of animals for food without killing them. (Eggs, milk, etc. - Note practical issues here.
  • Simon Fairlie's "default animal production" argument: We should think of meat as a luxury. Like many other luxury foods. Not sustainable at high levels of production. The relationship between meat production and environmental impact is not linear, according to Fairlie:

Meat consumption curve.png

  • Fairlie's ad for his position. [62]
  • Hunter's arguments -- There are some interesting arguments for treating "food hunting" differently from a moral perspective. Hunter's arguably enter into a special kind of relationship with nature that some deep ecologists argue to be authentic. The hunter, after all, could be prey. Hunting, like other traditional forms of food gathering, could be seen as a way of life that justifies limited animal harvesting. Also, the hunter's prey is not being raised on animal food crops, so the climate and ecological burdens are not the same. Still, it's no picnic for the wild animal!
  • The "motivational problem" in animal ethics discussions
  • As Tony Milligan points out, there is a "motivation problem" with these arguments. They do not motivative change in behavior. Rates of vegetarianism and veganism are very low (outside of cuisines that are intentionally vegetarian). Persistence in diet is also low. Smithsonian Magazine, Animal Charity Evaluators, Vegetarianism by country, Veganism by country. On the other hand, meat consumption has dropped significantly in countries like France and the Netherlands.

Milligan, Tony. Animal Ethics: the basics. "Chapter 1"

  • Main approaches:
  • Unifying - focus on key concepts like rights, suffering, sentience
  • Relational - focus on historical practices
  • Unifying approaches
  • Singer — "Focus on suffering ; Reagan - rights; being “subject of a life” ; Francione — sentience
  • all three treat “being human” as irrelevant in the discussion of rights and obligations.
  • Some general objections to unifying approaches: based on the parent theories for Singer and Reagan — utilitarianism and rights theory
  • Complexity — these theories oversimplify experience by reducing decisions to a single criterion. Suffering, for example, is not always morally problematic. Rights and harms often go together. Rights talk can be thought of as too restrictive. Maybe we should love animals? (12) You could say these theories are too binary and absolute.
  • Separation of justification and motivation — in a live example of intervening to prevent cruelty to an animal, appeals to rights and suffering seem to be more about justifications, but don’t capture our motivations, which might be more direct. 13: problem of motivation in ethics. [This shows up in the odd result that we should be concerned about the animal’s rights but not the animal itself]
  • Marginalizing our humanity — unifying theories seem not to track differences bt how we think about animals vs. humans. “Speciesism”.
  • Relational approaches: Often discursive essays, these approaches explore the lines we draw in our relationships with animals from the care we give pets, how we treat pests and "vermin", to the unspeakably cruel things we do to animals (even primates) in medical research.
  • Some examples of relational approaches:
  • Work of Cora Diamond: exposing assumptions in categories like “vermin” “pet” “livestock” . On the positive side, it is a great historical accomplishment to use terms like “human” and “humanity” to capture what we owe or what is due to others. It seems wrong to Diamond to treat this as a negative form of “speciesism”. She argues that we need to be human in a way that reduces harm to animals.
  • Derrida’s The Animal That I am. - concept of humanity developed in contrast and relation to animals, not in isolation. Not trying to efface the distinction (as unifiers do), but “multiply its figures”. Asks how we are seen by the animal.

SCP: Ethics of Eating Animals

  • Stage 1: Please write an 800-1000 hundred word essay on the following prompt by Wednesday, April 19, 2023, 11:59pm.
  • Topic: Consider various arguments and information we have been discussing related to both the ethics of eating animals and food from animals (such as egg and dairy products). Which are the strongest? Which are the weakest? How do ethical arguments about eating animals apply differently to different food animals and products or contexts? If you do not find any of the arguments persuasive, try to provide an alternative position. Otherwise, indicate, drawing on your knowledge of dietary change, what steps a carnivore might make to "trade up" to a more ethical eating pattern.
  • Advice about collaboration: Collaboration is part of the academic process and the intellectual world that college courses are based on, so it is important to me that you have the possibility to collaborate. I encourage you to collaborate with other students, but only up to the point of sharing ideas, references to class notes, and your own notes, verbally. Collaboration is also a great way to make sure that a high average level of learning and development occurs in the class. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to NOT share text of draft answers or outlines of your answer. Keep it verbal. Generate your own examples.
  • Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way. You will lose points if you do not follow these instructions:
  1. To assure anonymity, you must remove your name from the the "author name" that you may have provided when you set up your word processing application. For instructions on removing your name from an Word or Google document, [click here].
  2. Format your answer in double spaced text, in a typical 12 point font, and using normal margins. Do not add spaces between paragraphs and indent the first line of each paragraph.
  3. Do not put your name in the file or filename. You may put your student ID number in the file, but not in the filename. Save your file for this assignment with the name: EatingAnimals.
  4. To turn in your assignment, log into, click on the "#3: Ethics of Eating Animals" dropbox.
  5. If you cannot meet a deadline, you must email me about your circumstances (unless you are having an emergency) before the deadline or you will lose points.
  • Stage 2: Please evaluate four student answers and provide brief comments and a score. Review the Assignment Rubric for this exercise. We will be using the Flow and Content areas of the rubric for this assignment. Complete your evaluations and scoring by Thursday, April 27, 2023 11:59pm.
  • To determine the papers you need to peer review, open the file called "#Key.xls" in the shared folder. You will see a worksheet with saint names in alphabetically order, along with animal names. Find your saint name and review the next four (4) animals' work below your animal name. If you get to the bottom of the list before reaching 4 animals, go to the top of the list and continue.
  • Use this Google Form to evaluate four peer papers. Submit the form once for each review.
  • 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 back to the key and review the next animal's paper, continuing until you get four reviews. Do not review more than four papers.
  • Stage 3: I will grade and briefly comment on your writing using the peer scores as an initial ranking. Assuming the process works normally, most of my scores probably be within 1-2 points of the peer scores, plus or minus.
  • Stage 4: Back-evaluation: After you receive your peer comments and my evaluation, take a few minutes to fill out this quick "back evaluation" rating form: [63]. Fill out the form for each reviewer, but not Alfino. You must do the back evaluation to receive credit for the whole assignment. Failing to give back-evaluations unfairly affects other classmates.
  • Back evaluations are due TBD, 2023, 11:59pm.

22. APR 17

Assigned Work

  • There are no readings for today's class. Please come prepared to discuss your SCP essays on the Ethics of Food.


  • Reports on documentary viewing.
  • Neighbor to a Pig Factory - Ilona, Lauren, and Mia
  • Slaughterhouse: What the Meat Industry Hides - Haley, Paxton, Philip
  • Meat and Climate - Anna, Claire E, Elizabeth [64]
  • SCP: Ethics of Food - Group discussions

23. APR 19: Unit 6: The Future of Food

Assigned Work

  • Montgomery, David. Chapter 1: "Good Old Dirt" Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations(pp. 1-9); (9)
  • Diamond, Jarred. "Agriculture's Mixed Blessings" (180-191) (11)


  • Documentary Reports
  • Dominion - Allison, Colin
  • Profit v Ethics: Saving livestock from slaughter - Caroline
  • The Hog Industry in NC- Pigs, Politics, and Pollution - Dylan

Montgomery Chapter 1, "Good Old Dirt"

  • At the start of agriculture 98% of food producers supported a small ruling elite that controlled food distribution. Now only 1% of the population work in agricultural food production.
  • David Montgomery wants to tell a history of soil and of human use of soil. Historical failures, but also interested in sustainability.
  • Major theses: The history of agriculture shows us a pattern of failure that has doomed major civilizations. We can learn from this pattern of failure or repeat it. Avoiding the pattern will require attention to sustainable soil.

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

  • Old "progressivist" view
  • Ants practice agriculture and something like animal husbandry [65]
  • Details about the spread of agriculture - not like other great ideas (hand ax designs). Spread slowly, failed alot.
  • Advantages of hunter gatherer lifestyle
  • Short work week, more leisure - as long as you have enough Mongongo nuts!
  • Better nutrition (in some comparisons)
  • No impact from crop failures
  • But, in recent research, not Diamond’s: hunter-gatherers’ lifestyle was very violent and competitive.
  • 185: Paleopathology and medical anthropology: what you tell from feces, mummies, old bones and cookware Am. Indians who changed to ag.
  • Health evidence from early adoption of agriculture
  • Height (Ice age h-ger’s 5’10”, early ag-er’s 5’ 3”), nutrition, cavities, anemia, tb, syphillis, mortality (5% past 50 v 1%)
  • Mono-crop dependency a risk in early ag.
  • Population concentration promotes diseases and pathogen spread.
  • Low carb, varied nutrients
  • Class structures emerge after agriculture: diff outcomes dep. on class
  • Sexual inequality: agriculture requires labor, women do that, but also produce more humans for labor. They become part of the productivity of the farm. Pregnant every 2 years instead of 4 for h-ger’s.
  • Other differences that sustained agriculture
  • Increased population density made hunt/gather politically vulnerable (10 malnourished farmers can still dominate 1 h-ger.
  • 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.

24. APR 24

Assigned Work

  • Montgomery, David. Chapter 2: "Skin of the Earth" Dirt(pp. 9-25); (16)
  • Montgomery, David. Chapter 3: "Rivers of Life" (pp. 27-47) (20)


Montgomery, David. Chapter 2, "Skin of the Earth"

  • Darwin's studies of worms. Worms are moving a heck of a lot of dirt. 10-20 tons per acre per year. digestive juices.
  • Note the recentness of our lack of knowledge of this. Also why antiquities sink.
  • Darwin's calculations were off: underestimated the time scale for effects. Didn't know about isostasy - a process which lifts rock as well. But did understand soil formation as breakdown of minerals.
  • 15: overview of soil ecology relationships. read. even theories that soil formation was involved in first forms of organismic life.
  • guanine and cytosine in clay-rich solutions.
  • 15-16: overview of plant colonization of cooling earth (350 mya). earth plant life accelerated soil formation. lots of other physical and chemical processes (17). Gophers, roots, termites, ants….
  • nitrogen fixation (18): note mechanism. "nitrogen fixing plant" a misnomer.
  • effects of agriculture:
  • tilling releases nutrients, but also disrupts soil life, short-rotation farming reduces soil diversity, increases vulnerability to parasites,
  • p. 20: Connection bt farming methods and soil erosion and soil health.
  • Note how starting your account of food (vs. “Agriculture as Human Innovation”) from soil gives you deeper sense of your trophic relationships.
  • You are what you eat. You are what you eat eats.

Montgomery, Dirt, 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.
  • suggest myth of the garden represents transition to agriculture, climate change.
  • Long history
  • 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 [66]),
  • 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.
  • oasis theory - post glacial drying in Middle East restricted food sources to wetter flood plains.
  • cultural evo thesis - agricultural innovation independent of environmental change.
  • problem with oasis theory - food variety in mid-east expanding at time of agriculture, esp from N. Africa - seeds.
  • problem with cultural evolution theory -- not everyone adopted ag (though in other examples, like hand axes, everyone does adopt).
  • 3rd possibility: 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 (drought sensitive ones disappear from the record), for example.
  • more work to produce a calorie at start of agriculture --(recall crucial calculation here). population grew to six thousand. evidence of settlements chosen for ag condition.
  • note -- using evidence from burnt food remains, we can track the migration of food, independently of human migration.
  • agriculture developed in several places, but we missed this because in some places it developed before settled towns. Mesoamerica, China.
  • Spread of Agriculture
  • spread through Levant and Turkey. Growth allowed defeat of nearby hunter/gatherers in contest for territory.
  • The dog - 20k. The cat 4K. (Google “human evolution and dogs” for research on dog/human convolution.)
  • Domesticated livestock a huge leap - animal labor, fertilizer, and stored food — on the hoof.
  • after agriculture, population doubles every 1,000 years. 200 million by 0 CE. 2,000 years later 6.5 billion.
  • Sumeria / Mesopatamia
  • by 5,000 bc, evidence of overcultivation in Tigris valley, hillside erosion. emergence of irrigation. 37
  • Also, early agricultural infrastructure and control by governing elites. Emergence of class, armies, fight for territory.
  • very interesting: Mesopotamian religious elite controlled food production and distribution. (Later we'll see that Jewish authorities do the same in the Levant). More population growth.
  • Uruk grows to 50,000. agriculture brings property, inequality, class, gov't administration, (philosophers). Writing 3,000 bc - (mention Field Museum in Chicago - a “must see”).
  • back to the environment -- Babylonian Empire emerges from Sumerian cities around 1800bc. But irrigation led to salination of the soil, silting of rivers -- 39-40 evidence of lack of understanding of soil. Babylon falls! Pop peaks at 20 million. Temple records tell the story.
  • Egypt
  • 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 (Blue Nile and While Nile). Harvests increase over time.
  • But, desire to grow grain for export led to year round irrigation. 1880's salination extreme. Then Nasser damn. (Thinking about the logic of export crops for maximizing revenue. Very similar to situation of local over population leading to exploiting the soil.)
  • Irony of Nasser dam producing electricity to make synthetic fertilizers that are now needed because of the dam and poor soil management. Read at 42.
  • China
  • 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 floods killed millions. Also .5 million in early 20th century.
  • 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. Erosion from farming steep grades.
  • thesis going forward: Civilizations are defined by their management of soil. And, everyone has messed it up eventually, even the Egyptians.

25. APR 26

Assigned Work

  • Montgomery, David. Chapter 4: "Graveyards of Civilizations" (pp. 49-81) (32)
  • Montgomery, David. Chapter 10: "Life Span of Civilizations" (pp. 233-246) (13)

Final Assignment: "My Philosophy of Food" paper

  • This 7-9 page paper is a statement of your "Philosophy of Food," which represents your current views on major questions addressed by the course. You should develop the paper by spending some time paging through the course readings, wiki notes, and your own notes. For each section of the course, identify information and conclusions that you feel have influenced your thinking about food. Not everything in the course will meet this standard, but you should develop a set of conclusions from your review of the course that you can identify with. Sometimes our "food slogans" will help with this as they are meant to encapsulate a general point based on the readings. Once you collect this information, try to integrate it. What are the general lessons from the course that inform your view of the nature of food, the challenges of eating well, and the food values that you want to advocate going forward in your life?
  • The rubric for this paper is roughly the same as we have been using. Good writing, good use of content from the course, and, in this case a kind of "synthesis" or "putting together" of that content into general points that address the question above. This not an argument paper, but you should indicate through your writing why you have chosen the lessons you did. Above all, try to make this a statement that reflects your actual convictions about the main question above.
  • You must include a brief assessment 1-2 pages of Montgomery’s argument from our last unit and how it will or will not affect your thinking about the nature of food.

Montgomery, Dirt, 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. (Recall Diamond’s point in Collapse)
  • By time of Peloponnesian War (431-404), Egypt & Sicily provide 1/3 to 3/4 of food to Greece.
  • (Comments by Plato and Aristotle on soil degradation.). Imagine Greece with oak forests and more grasslands. 15” of soil lost from Argolid uplands, 3’ from lowland slopes — 2300 to 1600 bc. Note: the ability to reconstruct ancient soil patterns is very recent.
  • 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) will 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. Family names often associated with agriculture — Cicero “Chick peas”
  • 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.
  • Evidence of soil mismanagement in Roman Republic and Empire.
  • Difference in Roman case: extensive knowledge of husbandry. 1960s studies of erosion around Rome: 1" every 1,000 years before the Via Cassia was built, 1"per 200 years after.
  • Dramatic examples in Ostia and Ravenna. Silting pushed these ancient coastal cities away from the sea.
  • 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 and sicily currently desertifying). [67]
  • Empire needed to annex parts of N. Africa to secure food. 200,000 tons of grain a year from Egypt and N. Africa to feed 1 million Romans. Mid-80s UNESCO research moved us away from climate explanation for decline.
  • 66: early 20th thesis (1916 - Columbia U prof Vladimir Simkhovitch) that agricultural policy contributed to decline of Roman Empire. Farm debt a problem then and now.
  • Egypt
  • 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 Meso-America, 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. Usually the result of over-exploitation of resources in the face of population growth.
  • Soil degradation not the sole cause of civilization decline, but it "leaves societies vulnerable to hostile neighbors, internal sociopolitical disruption, and harsh winters or droughts"
  • Reflected in commitments to slavery, expansion, and exploitation of neighbors.
  • 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.)

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.
  • Both capitalists and marxists theorize land as infinitely productive or infinitely substitutable. General endorsement of effectiveness of markets, but he points out that resource depletion is not adequately theorized 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: We can't move anymore. Estimate of hectares per person. Explores physical and genetic limits on productivity. Key globalization point: There's not much left to cultivate. Nice analysis about how large vs. small societies respond to problems.
  • Crop yields are flat since the 70s. More nitrogen needed to maintain current levels.
  • 20th cent food production doubled by increased use of Nitrogen fertilizers 7x and 3.5x increase in Phosphorus.
  • Agrarian approach: Wendell Berry. Advocates “adaptation of economic activity to capacity of land to sustain that activity.” 240
  • 241: Agro-ecology: Need to treat soil as a "locally adapted biological system rather than a chemical system"
  • 241: not just about organic, but about enriching soil. mentions California’s monoculture organic. "unglobalization of ag" as oil becomes expensive. example of 19th cent. Paris use of horse shit to fertilize fields. (urban farming -- look up new examples)
  • connections between climate change, Syrian civil war, ISIS and refugee crisis. There has been some reporting on this, especially the Syrian war, which followed 5 years of crop failures.

26. MAY 1

Assigned Work

  • Pinker, "Sustanance" (68-78) (10)
  • Montgomery, Growing a Revolution,"Green Manure" (90-114) (24)


  • Course Conclusion
  • Your food future.
  • Your future as intellectuals.

Pinker, Enlightenment Now, Ch. 7, "Sustanance"

  • nice evocation of the history of famine in human condition
  • examples of famine leading to consumption of human flesh and viscera.
  • Good News
  • Calories up globally as well as US.
  • Stunting down, undernurishment under 5% globally, 13% in dev. world.
  • Famines down
  • Reviews 70's era population bomb literature. Malthus assumed the population curve wouldn't change as family wealth increases. Also, underestimated increases in the food supply. Dates that to Enlightenment knowledge.
  • Food claims
  • The food supply can grow geometrically with knowledge (74) ?
  • Food prices in relation to wages are historically low. T
  • GMOs and transgenic crops are ready to go but opposed by fanatical environmentalists. Hmm. Y & N
  • Account of Haber-Bosch method for syn N, and Green Revolution (notice detail in what makes for a high yield grain)
  • Critical point: Green Revolution is very important; part success of plant breeding (landrace system), part extension of industrial fertilizer and mechanical inputs. Not clear there is another Green Revolution out there. Plant breeding is as old as agriculture, but here it is recruited as part of the Enlightenment narrative.
  • Closing statement, importantly identifies major causes of famines in political organization and war rather than agricultural efficiency. Most 20th century famines in autocratic communist countries.
  • Pinker makes many very persuasive points, especially related to population dynamics (see chart in Chapter 10, also in links). If population stops growing, or declines, then declines in soil productivity might be offset by increases in yields from plant engineering and sustained high levels of chemical fertilizers.]
  • Demographic Transition excerpt:
  • Quick youtube on DTM [68]

Montgomery, David. Chapter 6: Green Manure

  • Primary story: Dwayne Beck, Dakota Lakes Research Farms. Beck has chemistry background and Ph.D. in agronomy and is a farmer. Many success stories of farmers using his soil conservation methods:
  • problem of water runoff in plough vs. no till fields.
  • 92: competitive wheat yields vs. high-disturbance input intensive. Big effect on South Dakota. Conservation farms had new everything.
  • 96: Critique of ag extension system for keeping farmers in intensive industrial ag.
  • 99: Conference incident: Beck challenged by chemical company demand for retraction on statement weeds. Set up test.
  • Glyphosate problem digression 99-100 (bring in GMO connection, v2, cancer suit judgements). Using continuous ground cover with no till keeps weeds out.
  • Grow it yourself fertilizer
  • Value of cover crops. multiple crops in a field.
  • 102: on site wind powered small scale fertilizer production.
  • Precision ag. Precision Agriculture
  • Using mycorrhizal fungi to release phosphorous instead of applying synthetic phosphorous. 103
  • Pest self-management
  • Examples of unintended effects of herbicides that throw off insect ecology 104 106: corn rootworm experiment.
  • High Tech No Till
  • Story of Cronin Farms - economics of no till, biodynamics -- 108
  • 109: looking at carbon in soil as stored fertilizer worth $600/acre.
  • End of chapter
  • Reorg of some themes to make broader point:
  • Pest ecology stories
  • 105: corn rootworm beetle and crop rotation
  • BT corn eliminated one pest (earworm), but earworms eat be cutworms. demonstration project showing resistance to root worm in no till field
  • Some analogies between healthy soil and a healthy microbiome!
  • best weed control is a canopy of well nourished crop. reducing opportunities for weeds. 99: incident Beck asked for retraction.
  • herbicide resistance (like germ resistance from anti-biotic use)
  • 103: broad spectrum pesticides like antibiotics in microbiome
  • Technology of soil conservation
  • 95: on-site processing of residues for fertilizer and animal feed.
  • avoids compaction of heavy machinery. uses low psi equiptment.
  • note: the research farm uses some (a "fraction" of normal) glyphosate.
  • importance of leaving crop residue on the ground.
  • complex rotations - for soil health and to defeat complex pests.
  • mixed cropping 101
  • locally produced Nitrogen fert from wind.
  • phosphorous management easier without tillage that breaks up mycorrhizal fungus.
  • 103: worms, lots of worms
  • Precision agriculture:
  • no-till planters, small dosing of fertilizers,
  • 108: example on Cronin Farm of no-till planter using precision fert. good yields with lower inputs.
  • 110: disc planters
  • GPS based data system for precision ag.

27. MAY 3: