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 Anthropology of Food
Sunday, 20 April 2014, 18:36 (06:36 PM) CDT, day 110 of 2014
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Welcome to the Anthropology of Food

Available on-line in your
 Moodle
folder at
<https://www.moodle.umn.edu/>

This will be a great course, and a great experience. You will see. . . .

Interest in food and culture has never been higher.

Whether or not you agree with the various commentators, and there are many these days, representing all sides of the food industry and all food interest groups, food is IN the news. And some weeks food IS the news. And that's true year 'round.

A sample from just the early Spring Semester . . .


Last year my wife, Kim, and I stopped off in Hawaii on the way back from Australia and New Zealand where we were visiting relatives. I learned in the “trivia” section of the New Zealand Air in-flight magazine that Hawaiians eat more Spam per capita than the citizens of any other country on earth. Hawaiians love our Minnesota Spam! It is even reported that some eat it as a delicacy.

Here in Minnesota, Spam . . . turns 77 on July 5th . . .

http://www.todayifoundout.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/spam5.jpg
To start off Spam’s 75th birthday year the Minneapolis StarTribune celebrated “America’s love of Spam” in a full-page feature on one of Minnesota’s best-known products (next to Scotch tape). See for yourself (<http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/travel/137199258.html> StarTribune, Sunday, January 15, 2012, G5).

My sister-in law nearly “pukes” when she sees Spam in my refrigerator (her term, not mine), so she’s left out of the “love affair” article, except, perhaps in the second half of the “love it or hate it” part.

You have spam in your e-mail box, if not in your icebox. And if it’s not in your icebox or cupboard, why not? (Amazon.com is currently offering six-pack subscriptions of Spam Classic for $23.39—$4.05 less than it was last August.)

There’s probably a good reason why it is or isn’t there.

Or maybe several.

I once owned an official plastic Spamburger cutter, which after it was forbidden in the kitchen I used for awhile as a Christmas tree ornament. It mysteriously disappeared one year, about the Feast of the Three Kings, and Spamburgers haven’t been the same since. And this year, again, our Christmas tree was Spamburger-cutter-less. (Used Spamburger cutters were going for an opening bid of $24.99 on eBay just before Christmas.)

We don’t eat Spam in our house unless my sister-in-law’s sister is away.

Spam.com <http://www.spam.com/> may represent “Americana” at its finest—including a recipe exchange, should you like to try some. And you can visit Spam on facebook <http://www.facebook.com/spambrand>. Try the Hawaiian-Themed Spam Recipes for a little variety. And for the real treat there’s always the annual April Waikiki Spam Jam in Hawaii.

The point here is that Spam makes you happy or makes you vomit, depending on a lot of cultural experiences to which you have been exposed. And it’s not just about Spam as a food product; it’s about Spam as a cultural phenomenon.

In a much broader way, we’ll be exploring those cultural aspects of food—nutritional, spiritual, social, political, psychological, historical, recreational, economic, and the like—so stay tuned.

I am looking forward to "meeting" you in class. Have a look at the information in your Moodle folder at <https://www.moodle.umn.edu/>, or the companion on-line Anthropology of Food calendar, which you can find on the web at <http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/troufs/anthfood/afcal-su2014_online.html#title>.

Detailed information on the textbooks for the course—there are three—can be found at <http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/troufs/anthfood/aftexts.html#title>.

The course anchor text is The Cultural Feast: An Introduction to Food and Society, 2nd Edition.

 Cultural_Feast_200.jpg

The course anchor text, The Cultural Feast: An Introduction to Food and Society, 2nd Edition, is currently available on-line new from about $67.89-$134.48 [this is correct--it pays to comparison shop!], $38.99 used, and $38.18 to rent from Amazon.com (+ p/h, and at amazon.com you get FREE Super Saver Shipping on some orders). (27 March 2014)

 

tba

The Meaning of Food: The Companion to the PBS Television Series Hosted by Marcus Samuelsson is currently available online from about $9.18 new / $1.80 used. (+ p/h). (27 March 2014) [This is also listed on Amazon.com for a muchhigher price. Be careful, if you use Amazon.com, to get on the correct page. See note below.)

This text is not available at the UMD Bookstore

NOTE: BE CAREFUL IF YOU ORDER THE MEANING OF CULTURE FROM AMAZON.COM AS THEY HAVE TWO LISTINGS FOR IT, AND THE PRICE ON ONE IS USUALLY MORE THAN TEN TIMES AS MUCH AS IT IS ON THE OTHER. THE PRICE SHOULD BE ABOUT WHAT IS LISTED ABOVE, NOT MORE.

tba

The Omnivore's Dilemma is currently available online from about $9.60 new / $0.30 used. (+ p/h, at amazon.com & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25). (27 March 2014)

The exams will be open-book essays constructed from a list of study questions that you help create, so it would be a good idea for you to have your own copy of each text you plan to use in the exams.

For the exams you should normally just need to read the books carefully and be able to discuss them intelligently. That is, you should read these as if you had picked it/them up at an airport or neighborhood bookshop because you were interested in the subject and wanted to know more about it, like literally millions of people are doing in everyday life.

PLEASE NOTE: Some students are used to principally memorizing facts in classes. This class is not one where that is the focus. It is about investigating new topics, observing, reading, listening, analyzing, synthesizing ideas, thinking, exploring, and becoming familiar enough with the various subjects, peoples and places to carry on an intelligent conversation in modern-day society. In short, this class aims to give you practice in critical thinking, and even creativity.

Critical thinking, involving evaluation and synthesis, has long been regarded as essential for success in the modern-day world. In recent years, actually for two decades, creativity has also become central to success, and "process skills" have become vital to creativity. Process skills involve "strategies to reframe challenges and extrapolate and transform information, and to accept and deal with ambiguity" (Pappano, "Learning to Think Outside the Box," The New York Times EducationLife, 9 February 2014, 8). Laura Pappano, writer in residence at Wellesley Center for Women at Wellesley College, points out that "In 2010 'creativity' was the factor mos crucial for success found in an I.B.M. survey of 1,500 chief executives in 33 industries. These days 'creative' is the most used buzzword in LinkedIn profiles two years running" (2014, 8).

With all of the class materials you will be expected to share your ideas and comments with others in the Class Forums and wikis.

It is not accidental that TAPS, Canada’s leading Beer Magazine—in fact it’s THE BEER MAGAZINE—features this item from this class in its editorial of Winter 2012, p. 2); at least one major Editor in Chief thinks it’s worth noting and imitating.

Overall, this course consists of three main segments:

I Background

  • Introduction
  • Basic Concepts
  • History / Theory / Method

II Explorations

  • Comparative / Cross-Cultural
  • Holistic
  • Ethnographic Case Studies from the Real World

III Student Presentations on Term Research Projects

For the first part of the course much of the material for the week will be presented in the form of text materials and on-line slide materials. In the second segment of the semester, once you have mastered the basic information relating to the Anthropology of Food, we will look (generally comparatively, cf., Main Characteristics of Anthropology in Week 01) at a series of video materials from around the world. The final section will focus on your research projects.

One of the four main characteristics of American Anthropology is fieldwork, "a primary research technique, involving “participant observation," which usually means living among the people one is interested in learning from and about. It would be wonderful if for anthropology classes we could just rent a bus or charter a plane and fly off for a year or more to learn first-hand from the people themselves. Money, time, and practicality prohibit that, so the next best things—when it comes to studying anthropology—is going to places and viewing subjects by video, and we will do a lot of that this semester. More information on Visual Anthropology is available on-line at <http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/troufs/anth1604/visual_anthropology.html#title>.

You will find that there is "an awful lot" of materials on-line—maybe even too many!

You will find the required materials center stage in your Moodle folder. Most of the rest of the materials are optional, but you may find that material useful in working on your class project.

Where to start?

Probably the best place is by having a quick look at the "First Day Handout" on-line at <http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/troufs/anthfood/afhandout_first-day.html#title>.

Then have a look at your Moodle Gradebook folder, which gives a nice listing of the actual requirements and due dates for the course. (You'll find the link for that in the upper-left-hand corner of the top of Block 1. See the figure in the “First Day Handout.”)

Then have a look at the "Course Overview" in Block 1 (the top of page one) of your Moodle folder <https://www.moodle.umn.edu/>. See the figure in the “First Day Handout.”

Please heed the earlier word of caution. Moodle recommends that you use the Firefox browser (available free at <http://firefox.com>). The Windows Internet Explorer (IE) occasionally will not display items on your screen. These items will simply not be there on IE when they are fine on Moodle or even on Chrome. Microsoft Word should likewise not be used to cut and paste things to Moodle; bad things can happen to your file if you do—randomly. Almost every time you are asked to enter text in Moodle, you will see the message, “Please do not copy/paste text directly from Microsoft Word. See explanation here <http://www1.umn.edu/moodle/issues.html#10>.” Please pay attention to that request.

So once again, welcome to Anth 3888 Anthropology of Food. This will be a great course, and a great experience. You will see. . . .

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to post them on Moodle or e-mail troufs@d.umn.edu.

Best Wishes, and thanks for signing on for Anthropology of Food.

My office hours and contact information (and other regular schedule information) can be found at
<http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/troufs/anth1602/pcoffice.html#title>.

When your Moodle appearson-line it will be at <https://moodle.umn.edu/>.

Best Wishes,

Tim Roufs
Duluth, MN
27 March 2014

P.S. If you are new to the world of "technology" don't worry too much about that. Things may not "work" for you at first, but hang in there and we'll help you along.

 

The Cultural Feast.

 

Table of Contents
1. Setting the Table For a Cultural Feast.
2. Diet and Human Evolution.
3. Food in Historical Perspective: Dietary Revolutions.
4. Eating is a Cultural Affair.
5. Food Technologies How People Get Their Food in Nonindustrialized Societies.
6. Food Technologies How People Get Their Food in Industrialized Societies.
7. Food and Social Organizations.
8. World View, Religion, and Health Beliefs: Ideological Basis of Food Practices.
9. Hunger in a Global Perspective.
10. Addressing Global Food Issues.
11. Dietary Behavioral Change: How People Change Eating Habits.
12. Designing Large Scale Programs to Change Dietary Practices.
  References.
  Index.

The course anchor text, The Cultural Feast: An Introduction to Food and Society, 2nd Edition, is currently available on-line new from about $67.89-$134.48 [this is correct--it pays to comparison shop!], $38.99 used, and $38.18 to rent from Amazon.com (+ p/h, and at amazon.com you get FREE Super Saver Shipping on some orders). (27 March 2014)

This text is not available at the UMD Bookstore

NOTE: BE CAREFUL IF YOU ORDER THE MEANING OF CULTURE FROM AMAZON.COM AS THEY HAVE TWO LISTINGS FOR IT, AND THE PRICE ON ONE IS USUALLY MORE THAN TEN TIMES AS MUCH AS IT IS ON THE OTHER. THE PRICE SHOULD BE ABOUT WHAT IS LISTED ABOVE, NOT MORE.

Other on-line and brick and mortar stores should have comparable offers.

Carol A. Bryant, Kathleen M. DeWalt, Anita Courtney and Jeffrey Schwartz.
The Cultural Feast: An Introduction to Food and Society, 2nd Edition.
Belmont, CA: Thompson Wadsworth, 2003.
432 pages
ISBN-10: 0534525822
ISBN-13: 978-0534525828

From the Publisher

THE CULTURAL FEAST looks at the impact of evolution, geography, environment, social structure, and religion on food practices around the world. The text is comprised of three units. The first unit explains the myriad influences on human diet and examines the role of evolution on contemporary food practices. The second unit looks at factors that influence current food practices, such as dietary revolutions that accompany advancements in agricultural practices; the influence of culture in what, how, when, and why we eat; and the influence of religion, social organizations and industrialization on foodways. The third unit of the text looks at nutrition problems and solutions to those problems. The text explores global and domestic hunger, examines diseases of under- and over-nutrition, and looks at dietary behavior change and large-scale programs to change dietary practices.

 

Synopsis

This textbook examines the evolutionary and historical factors influencing human dietary practices, the relationship between food and culture, and nutrition problems. Specific chapters discuss the relationship between food and industrialization, social organization, and religion, as well as issues like hunger. The authors include academics and health department officials. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

 

 

The Meaning of Food.

 

Table of Contents

  • Preface

  • Introduction

  • 1. Domestication
  • 2. New World Staples
  • 3. New World Produce
  • 4. The Aztecs
  • 5. Aztec Ingredients
  • 6. Aztec Cooks and Menus
  • 7. The Maya and the Explorers
  • 8. Diego de Landa
  • 9. Solid Maya Breadstuffs
  • 10. Maya Flesh Food
  • 11. Maya Produce
  • 12. The Inca: Animal and Mineral
  • 13. The Inca: Vegetable
  • 14. The Inca
  • 15. The Inca and the Europeans
  • 16. The Occupation
  • 17. A Final Banquet
  • 18. Finale

  • Bibliography
  • Index

The Meaning of Food: The Companion to the PBS Television Series Hosted by Marcus Samuelsson is currently available online from about $9.18 new / $1.80 used. (+ p/h). (27 March 2014) [This is also listed on Amazon.com for a muchhigher price. Be careful, if you use Amazon.com, to get on the correct page. See note below.)

This text is not available at the UMD Bookstore

NOTE: BE CAREFUL IF YOU ORDER THE MEANING OF CULTURE FROM AMAZON.COM AS THEY HAVE TWO LISTINGS FOR IT, AND THE PRICE ON ONE IS USUALLY MORE THAN TEN TIMES AS MUCH AS IT IS ON THE OTHER. THE PRICE SHOULD BE ABOUT WHAT IS LISTED ABOVE, NOT MORE.

Other on-line and brick and mortar stores should have comparable offers.

 

Patricia Harris, David Lyon, and Sue McLaughlin.

Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot, 2005.
176 pages
ISBN-10: 1615609210
ISBN-13: 978-1615609215

Description

"Tell me what you eat and I'll tell you who you are." --Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Every living thing needs food to survive, but for humans, food has a much deeper and more complex significance. This beautifully illustrated, thought-provoking book explores the role of food in our lives, going on location to thirteen ethnic communities across the United States and examining, through stories, pictures, and interviews with food experts, the many ways that food is an expression of our humanity. It parallels a three-part PBS series hosted by acclaimed New York chef Marcus Samuelsson.

From an Italian-American wedding in San Diego to a Mexican-American family's Christmastime tradition of making holiday tamales, The Meaning of Food delves into the ways that food binds us to family and culture. It looks in on a Jamai Shasthi ceremony, in which foods promoting fertility are fed to the sons-in-law of a Bengali family in California. It accompanies a woman to South Carolina's coastal lowlands as she explores her Geechee heritage, making red rice with a culinary historian. It enters the kitchen of an East Texas Czech family as they prepare for this year's kolache bake-off. It explains the anthropological significance behind these and other vignettes, revealing the importance of culinary tradition and celebrating our cultural diversity as expressed through food.

The Meaning of Food speaks for the revival of the kitchen and the table as centers of pleasure, culture, and community. With 15 recipes, including several developed by Marcus Samuelsson specifically for the series, and more than one hundred color photos, many of them captured from the series footage, it will be a wonderful addition to the library of anyone interested in food and culture.

"There is communion of much more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine is drunk."
-- M.F.K. Fisher

From the Back Cover

No matter who we are or where we live, our lives revolve around food. Much more than simple sustenance, food is part of our culture and our traditions. Everything about eating - including what we eat, how it tastes, who prepares it, and who's at the table - is a form of communication rich with meaning.
This beautifully illustrated, thought-provoking book explores the role of food in our lives. Paralleling a three-part PBS series hosted by acclaimed New York chef Marcus Samuelsson, The Meaning of Food goes on location to twenty ethnic communities across the United States and examines, through stories, pictures, and interviews, the many ways that food is an expression of our humanity. It shows how our attitudes, practices, and rituals around food reflect our most basic beliefs about our world and ourselves. Included in this book are the recipes from the television series and 200 color photographs, many of them captured from the series footage.
From an Italian-American wedding in San Diego, to a Mexican-American family's Christmastime tradition of making tamales, to a South Carolina woman's exploration of her Geechee heritage, The Meaning of Food sheds light on who we are as Americans.
"We do not sit at the table only to eat, but to eat together."

-- Plutarch

 

 

 

Omnivore's Dilemma text.

 

Table of Contents
Introduction : our national eating disorder 1
1 The plant: corn's conquest 15
2 The farm 32
3 The elevator 57
4 The feedlot: making meat 65
5 The processing plant : making complex foods 85
6 The consumer: a republic of fat 100
7 The meal: fast food 109
8 All flesh is grass 123
9 Big organic 134
10 Grass: thirteen ways of looking at a pasture 185
11 The animals: practicing complexity 208
12 Slaughter: in a glass abattoir 226
13 The market: "greetings from the non-barcode people" 239
14 The meal: grass-fed 262
15 The forager 277
16 The omnivore's dilemma 287
17 The ethics of eating animals 304
18 Hunting: the meat 334
19 Gathering: the fungi 364
20 The perfect meal 391

The Omnivore's Dilemma is currently available online from about $9.60 new / $0.30 used. (+ p/h, at amazon.com & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25). (27 March 2014)

Other on-line and brick and mortar stores should have comparable offers.

Michael Pollan.
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.

NY: Penguin, 2007.
464 pages
ISBN-10: 0143038583
ISBN-13: 978-0143038580

From Barnes & Noble

In the ancient days of hunter-gatherers, a wrong food choice -- in the form of a poison mushroom or toxic root -- could have quick and fatal consequences. Today, according to Botany of Desire author Michael Pollan, we face comparable dangers in the midst of plenitude. Pollan notes that Fast-Food America is experiencing what can only be described as a national eating disorder. With compelling precision, he describes how parallel food chains (industrialized food, alternative or "organic" food, and home-gathered food) reflect differences and similarities in our ecology of eating. A fascinating look behind the labels.

From the Publisher

A New York Times bestseller that has changed the way readers view the ecology of eating, this revolutionary book by award winner Michael Pollan asks the seemingly simple question: What should we have for dinner? Tracing from source to table each of the food chains that sustain us - whether industrial or organic, alternative or processed - he develops a portrait of the American way of eating. The result is a sweeping, surprising exploration of the hungers that have shaped our evolution, and of the profound implications our food choices have for the health of our species and the future of our planet.

The New York Times Book Review

Thoughtful, engrossing ... You're not likely to get a better explanation of exactly where your food comes from.

Publishers Weekly

Pollan (The Botany of Desire) examines what he calls "our national eating disorder" (the Atkins craze, the precipitous rise in obesity) in this remarkably clearheaded book. It's a fascinating journey up and down the food chain, one that might change the way you read the label on a frozen dinner, dig into a steak or decide whether to buy organic eggs. You'll certainly never look at a Chicken McNugget the same way again. Pollan approaches his mission not as an activist but as a naturalist: "The way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world." All food, he points out, originates with plants, animals and fungi. "[E]ven the deathless Twinkie is constructed out of... well, precisely what I don't know offhand, but ultimately some sort of formerly living creature, i.e., a species. We haven't yet begun to synthesize our foods from petroleum, at least not directly." Pollan's narrative strategy is simple: he traces four meals back to their ur-species. He starts with a McDonald's lunch, which he and his family gobble up in their car. Surprise: the origin of this meal is a cornfield in Iowa. Corn feeds the steer that turns into the burgers, becomes the oil that cooks the fries and the syrup that sweetens the shakes and the sodas, and makes up 13 of the 38 ingredients (yikes) in the Chicken McNuggets. Indeed, one of the many eye-openers in the book is the prevalence of corn in the American diet; of the 45,000 items in a supermarket, more than a quarter contain corn. Pollan meditates on the freakishly protean nature of the corn plant and looks at how the food industry has exploited it, to the detriment of everyone from farmers to fat-and-getting-fatter Americans. Besides Stephen King, few other writers have made a corn field seem so sinister. Later, Pollan prepares a dinner with items from Whole Foods, investigating the flaws in the world of "big organic"; cooks a meal with ingredients from a small, utopian Virginia farm; and assembles a feast from things he's foraged and hunted. This may sound earnest, but Pollan isn't preachy: he's too thoughtful a writer, and too dogged a researcher, to let ideology take over. He's also funny and adventurous. He bounces around on an old International Harvester tractor, gets down on his belly to examine a pasture from a cow's-eye view, shoots a wild pig and otherwise throws himself into the making of his meals. I'm not convinced I'd want to go hunting with Pollan, but I'm sure I'd enjoy having dinner with him. Just as long as we could eat at a table, not in a Toyota. (Apr.) Pamela Kaufman is executive editor at Food & Wine magazine. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal

Pollan (journalism, Univ. of California, Berkeley; The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World) defines the Omnivore's Dilemma as the confusing maze of choices facing Americans trying to eat healthfully in a society that he calls "notably unhealthy." He seeks answers to this dilemma by taking readers through the industrial, organic, and hunter-gatherer stages of the food chain. Focusing on corn as the keystone plant in the industrial stage, Pollan describes its role in feeding cattle and in food processing as well as its ultimate destination in the products we consume at fast-food restaurants. The organic, or pastoral, stage offers a pure and chemical-free eating environment for animals and humans. In the hunter-gatherer stage, omnivores hunt animals and gather the plant foods that comprise all or part of their diets. Pollan explains how a framework of environmental, biological, and cultural factors determines what and how we eat. Although a bit long and sometimes redundant, this folksy narrative provides a wealth of information about agriculture, the natural world, and human desires. Recommended for all omnivores. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/05.]-Irwin Weintraub, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., New York Copyright 2006 Reed Business Informatio

Kirkus Reviews

The dilemma-what to have for dinner when you are a creature with an open-ended appetite-leads Pollan (Journalism/Berkeley; The Botany of Desire, 2001, etc.) to a fascinating examination of the myriad connections along the principal food chains that lead from earth to dinner table. The author identifies three: the one controlled by agribusiness; the pastoral, organic industry that has sprung up as an alternative to it; and the very short food chain Pollan calls "neo-Paleolithic," in which he assumes the role of modern-day hunter-gatherer. He demonstrates the dependence of the agribusiness system on a single grain, corn, as it passes from farm to feedlot and processing plant. The meal that concludes this section is takeout from McDonald's and includes among other foods a serving of Chicken McNuggets. Of the 38 ingredients that make up McNuggets, 13, he notes, are derived from corn. This fact bolsters an earlier, startling statistic: Each of us is personally responsible for consuming a ton of corn each year. Pollan's exploration of the pastoral food chain takes two roads. Investigating "industrial organic," he assembles a meal composed entirely of ingredients from a Whole Foods supermarket. But he also visits a single, relatively small farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, where grass, not corn, is the basis of production, and cattle, chickens and pigs are raised through management of the natural ecosystem. Pollan joins in the farm work and is clearly impressed by what he learns, observes and eats here. In the final section, he learns how to shoot a wild pig and how to scavenge for forest mushrooms. The author's extraordinarily labor-intensive final meal provides a perfect contrast to thefast-food takeout of Part I. Pollan combines ecology, biology, history and anthropology with personal experience to present fascinating multiple perspectives. Revelations about how the way we eat affects the world we live in, presented with wit and elegance.

 

The following chapters and articles are available on-line



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