FYS 101 Food Fights

Everybody eats. But why do we eat what we eat? And what are the social, economic, and ecological effects of how we eat? This course will focus on the current debate over the future of food through a comparative analysis of industrial agriculture, local food, and food justice movements. Are factory farms necessary to feed the world or can small farmers produce enough? What exactly is agriculture’s role in environmental degradation and environmental sustainability? Why are people farming in the city and what are the benefits and drawbacks of urban agriculture? How did lower income urban communities become devoid of fresh produce and what role does this play in health-related disparities? How did processed foods come to dominate so much of what we eat? Why is local food in vogue? How is it that the biggest social movement today, one made up of hundreds of millions of farmers, is also the most invisible social movement on the planet?

These are just a few of the questions this course will investigate. Alongside a discussion of the power structures and economic forces that shape the industrial food system of factory farms and supermarkets attention will be centered on the social, economic, and ecological factors shaping the burgeoning local food, urban agriculture, and food justice movements. In doing so, the course will connect the future of food debate to larger discussions about democracy, sovereignty, labor rights, economic development, urban planning, race and class inequity, and environmental sustainability.