Category Archives: Food Studies

What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, July 12, 2018

David Beriss

A brief digest of food and nutrition-related items that caught our attention recently. Got items you think we should include? Send links and brief descriptions to dberiss@gmail.com or hunterjo@gmail.com.

Is there such thing as “American cuisine”? This is the sort of question that can sustain long discussions over drinks and snacks among food studies folks or endless panels at conferences, like last year’s Slow Food Nations in Denver. Ruth Tobias provides an overview of the deliberations, more or less in time for the conference this year. One may quibble with the details here, the strange absence of the concept of “creole” foods, or even wonder why the existence of an American cuisine matters…but this is nevertheless an interesting read.

While we are trying to associate societies and cultures with cuisines, this article, by Kyle Fitzpatrick at Eater.com, explores the existence of “queer food.” I have to admit, when I first started to read it I was skeptical. There are restaurants and bars frequented by LGBTQ people, of course, and certainly many LGBTQ cooks, chefs, etc. But how could there be something distinctive about the food? And yet, as a kind of holistic anthropological approach to a wide range of practices, ranging from the campy to kinship, from rituals to recipes, and much more, Fitzpatrick makes a convincing argument for Queer culinary culture. This is a very good essay and could be used effectively in all kinds of classes. Also, my colleague D’Lane Compton is cited.

There are cuisines—and peoples—that have faced persecution, genocide, and efforts to erase their trace from history. Reasserting their cuisines can be a way to revive historical foodways, but can also provide a context for difficult discussions about history, power, racism, and more. In this article from Eater.com, Suzanne Cope looks at the work of a group called the I-Collective in New York. Organized by indigenous activists from different parts of North America, the group uses food and cooking to explore indigenous foodways, but also to spark difficult conversations. As Hillel Echo-Hawk, a member of the group, says in the article, “People don’t like it when you call them a colonizer, and people don’t like it when you bring up genocide when you sit down and are having dinner. And… we do that.”

There may be trends in what people want to eat, but there are a lot of people, so keep in mind that a lot of them are not following the trends. That is one lesson we learn when David Brancaccio and Daniel Shin, of Marketplace, interview Jeff Harmening, the CEO of General Mills, about the way the corporation adapts to American food trends and tastes. This is fascinating. Harmening points out that rather than going in one direction—away from cereal for breakfast, for instance—American tastes go in a lot of different directions at once. Also, people still eat Lucky Charms for the marshmallows and still like Bugles. Bugles! Now that is something I have not had in a while.

Meanwhile, the state of the world’s fisheries is clearly something that should concern us. In this article, Livia Albeck-Ripka explores the somewhat counter-intuitive impacts of climate change on the lobster fishery in Maine. Boom, then possibly bust. Terry Gross interviews Paul Greenberg, who has written a new book about the Omega-3 supplement industry, revealing some very disturbing facts about a variety of fisheries. The same Paul Greenberg comments here on the difficulties we face if we want to eat local seafood, pointing in particular to a recent scandal involving a company that purported to do just that. Finally, as Congress considers reauthorizing and amending fisheries legislation, Marcus Jacobs, a New Orleans chef, weighs in with some insights into the relationship between the management of fisheries and restaurants.

The ongoing crackdown on immigration by the Trump administration has been having an especially severe impact on agriculture. Farmers are struggling in many places to find workers. In this article from Mother Jones, Maddie Oatman explores some of the current and potential impacts of these policies for wine makers in California. Mechanization is one possibility, although there are limits to how well that would work for smaller wine makers. Specific visa programs are also available, but the implications for workers and their families are shocking. Although much of the debate in the US has been about undocumented (“illegal”) immigrants, the deeper and more important question of managing immigration in general is made concrete in this article.

As recently as the 1920s, 14% of American farmers were black. Today they make up less than 2% of the farming population. In this article from Vice, Lauren Rothman explores the history of government supported discrimination against black farmers. She also looks into organized efforts by black farm activists to turn this around.

There was a great deal of surprise expressed last week when the U.S. used strong-arm tactics to try to modify or suppress a nonbinding resolution on breastfeeding that was being considered by the World Health Organization. In this article from the Atlantic, Olga Khazan explores the history of the cultural battle over advocating for breast milk. Industry advocates for formula play a role, but there are more complexities and a longer time frame then one might think.

It is summertime and it is hot, so you probably need a refreshing drink. Perhaps a Tom Collins? It turns out that this classic cocktail is in fact named after a man…and his name was not Tom Collins. It is a surprising tale. To learn more, listen to the latest episode of the Drink & Learn podcast, which features drinks historian Elizabeth Pearce and bartender Abigail Gullo. Pearce writes drink history, but is also a cocktail-focused tour guide and speaker here in New Orleans. Gullo leads the bar at Compère Lapin, a wonderful restaurant, also in New Orleans.

Last note, this one referring to what FoodAnthropology intends to read, but really has not read yet. The Southern Foodways Alliance suggests James Hannaham’s most recent novel, Delicious Foods (Little, Brown, and Company, 2015) as a summer read. To accompany that, they are going to publish a series of postings on their blog. Also, their fall symposium will have a focus on food and literature and Hannaham will speak there. Even if you are not planning on attending, this looks like a good read. Maybe we can get a food anthropologist to write something about the novel for us too.

 

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Not Safe Spaces: On Protest & Exclusion in DC Restaurants

David Beriss

It seems like every social crisis gets played out, one way or another, in restaurants. Lately, a few people who work in the Trump administration have found themselves the objects of protest when they have gone out to eat in public. First, Trump advisor Stephen Miller was shouted at and called a fascist while dining at Espita Mezcaleria, a DC restaurant that serves food that is inspired by Mexico and goes by the motto “Authentic, not Traditional.” Then, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen was confronted by protesters at MXDC Cocina Mexicana, another DC restaurant featuring Mexican food. Most recently, White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, was asked by the owner to leave the Red Hen, a fancy restaurant “featuring the bounty of the Shenandoah Valley,” this time in Lexington, VA. President Trump may not be known for his sophisticated dining habits, but the people who work for him seem to like trendy places for their dinners.

Reactions to these protests have been varied. President Trump tweeted out a harsh evaluation of the Red Hen in response to the ejection of Ms. Sanders and the restaurant’s reviews on Yelp turned sharply negative for a while, although few of the critics seemed to know anything about the food. Representative Maxine Waters called on people to continue to protest Trump workers in restaurants and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Trump responded with threats. On the left, people were mostly thrilled about the demonstrations against representatives of Trump administration policies. There was also some hand-wringing about whether such protests would further poison the atmosphere or bring the left down to the level of discourse that seems to characterize the right. The Washington Post editorial board argued that Trump officials should be allowed to eat in peace. Others predicted that these protests might be analogous to events that preceded the Civil War. There was collateral damage, as restaurants with similar names got drawn into the fray. And New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik invoked the anthropology of commensality in his cleverly hedged defense of excluding Sanders from dinner (the book he cites is here).

Commensality—the sharing of food at meals—is not really the right concept for interpreting these events. When we eat in restaurants, we don’t share food with all the people in the restaurant. At least, not since the invention of modern restaurants in the late 18th century. Usually, you sit down and order your own meal from a menu. You might share with the people at your table and if commensality is going to be invoked, it is there that you will find it. There is a lot going on, socially and culturally speaking, in restaurants, but in the cases involving Trump administration officials, I would argue that we should start thinking about them by invoking Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of “distinction.” Bourdieu argued that people demonstrate their place in society through aesthetic choices, including where, what, and how they eat. Being able to eat in an expensive and sophisticated restaurant (and knowing the right ones to choose) is a way of demonstrating social distinction. Trump, the billionaire, can demonstrate his wealth through his disdain for sophistication. His less-wealthy acolytes demonstrate their taste by picking the fancy and trendy places, in this case “Mexican” restaurants owned and operated by famous non-Mexican chefs and a very trendy looking farm-to-table operation in Lexington, VA. These are not chain restaurants and they are definitely not taco stands. Eating in these places is not about sharing a moment of common pleasure with the other patrons. It is about showing off your culture and sophistication.

We should also consider that at least two of these incidents have occurred in “Mexican” restaurants. What does it mean that people like Miller and Nielsen, architects of the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant (and specifically anti-Mexican and anti-Central American) policies, should choose this cuisine? The DC area is full of immigrants and has food from all over the world, which makes it a great place to eat. Explicitly exclusionary policies aside, Trump’s comments on loving Hispanics whilst eating a Trump Tower taco bowl or the fear of a taco truck on every corner invoked by one of his supporters during the election surely made it clear that this administration is not about celebrating culinary diversity. While one has to assume that Latinos run the kitchens in the restaurants chosen by Miller and Nielsen (as they do in the majority of restaurants of all sorts in America), neither of these were “immigrant” restaurants. The food may be inspired by Mexico, but the owners are of European descent, including the famous restaurateur Todd English. This is Mexican food after it has been thoroughly conquered and assimilated. I doubt Miller and Nielsen really thought through the symbolism (then again, who knows?), but at some level it is possible to interpret these choices as a kind of middle finger directed at immigrants. We can exclude you and take your food too.

That leaves the protest. When these folks dine out, it is clearly not about commensality, but it is about being in public. Eating in restaurants, as a public act of social distinction, has always been subject to public scrutiny. By dining in public, the high and mighty also run the risk of encountering the disdain and wrath of the common folk. That is also in the nature of restaurants. Restaurants are not and never have been neutral zones, where everyone puts down their ideology and their differences and admires the roast chicken in harmony. Social media has been circulating images of Rick’s Café Américain, from the film Casablanca, in which German officers, singing “Die Wacht am Rhein” are interrupted by vigorous singing of “La Marseillaise.” Curiously, nobody has invoked Spike Lee’s film “Do the Right Thing,” which centers on a Brooklyn pizzeria and ends in protest and flames. Nobody gets to dine in peace in these films. But we need not resort to fiction. Real restaurants were long used to exclude women and African Americans and both used protest—the refusal to allow everyone else to dine in peace—to gain access. This was especially notable in the case of students sitting in at lunch counters throughout the South in the 1960s, holding their ground while being beaten or spat upon. Until everyone’s right to dine in public—everyone’s right to equality and equal access to public accommodations— was recognized, nobody was going to dine in peace. Restaurants never have been safe spaces.

There is a fundamental difference in the Civil Rights protests for equal access and the harassment or exclusion of Miller, Nielsen, and Sanders. In the former case, the protests were designed to stop discrimination against whole classes of people. It was never about the specific protesters. In these cases, the objects of protest are specific individuals. It is not a class of people, but very clearly individuals who are responsible for inventing, implementing, and speaking for a set of public policies. Not all Republicans, not even everyone who works in the Federal government under President Trump. This, in the end, is a key distinction. These are public figures, associated with particular ideas and policies. And this is a society in which the right to peacefully protest is fundamental, at least so far. Even in restaurants.

One last point to consider. Even as Miller, Nielsen, and Sanders were suffering their public shaming, the atmosphere fostered by the Trump administration is overwhelmingly encouraging efforts to exclude immigrants, African-Americans, and others from equal access to public accommodations. From the arrest of black men for sitting in a Starbucks, to the detention of a pizza delivery man at a New York military base, to a transgender woman being thrown out of a DC restaurant for using the women’s restroom, restaurants remain privileged sites for the social exclusion and persecution of whole classes of people. It would be encouraging if their experiences of being shunned provoked the Trump trio to reconsider the atmosphere their policies have helped create. When that happens, we will all perhaps start thinking about sharing some meals in restaurants together.

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The Agroecological Prospect, Cheese Curds and Radishes

David Beriss

Last week I attended the joint annual meeting of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society and the Association for the Study of Food and Society. The conference was in Madison, Wisconsin and the AFHVS folks were in charge, which probably accounts for the very agriculturally-focused theme: “The Agroecological Prospect: The Politics of Integrating Values, Food, and Farming.” This is always a great conference, well worth attending. The University of Wisconsin campus is lovely and historic. We were there at the same time as a conference/reunion focusing on Madison in the 60s, which meant that there was a constant buzz of nostalgic discussions of radical politics and counter-cultural activities in the air.

This is a small conference. I think there were around 500 people participating this year. It is also very open to students. There are a lot of graduate students who present research and even some undergraduates, along with faculty, professional researchers, activists, people from government agencies, and nonprofits. People are generally quite approachable, and it is easy to meet scholars and make new connections. This is probably helped by the wonderful snacks provided between sessions (hey, it is a food conference), which in Madison included some very crunchy radishes.Radishes Madison Farmers Market

We had a nice contingent of SAFN members at the conference. SAFN sponsored several sessions (at least four, I think), including a session on food activism in higher education, another on restaurants and social movements, a roundtable discussion with representatives from funding organizations, and another on the relationship between food studies programs and local communities (many thanks to Amanda Green and the SAFN program committee for organizing all of this). There were many anthropologists on the program outside our sessions as well. Rachel Black and I organized a little gathering of SAFN members (I apologize for the confusion regarding the location), which included a little wine (as an aside, it is amusing to go shopping for wine with a wine scholar, especially in a store that markets primarily to college students) and nice conversation and ended in a beer and bratwurst establishment that featured mediocre brats, but also lovely little triangles of deep fried macaroni and cheese. Highbrow stuff, you betcha.

A lot of conferences have a sort of shadow conference happening on social media and the AFHVS/ASFS conference is especially intense in this regard. Emily Contois, of the University of Tulsa, led this effort and she has provided a sort of round up of the live tweeting from many sessions here. Even though I contribute to this in a modest way, I am still always surprised when people outside the conference (people in the world of food writing, for instance, who might have been mentioned in a presentation) see the tweets and respond in real time. This is both very cool and somewhat vertigo-inducing, as you realize that the conversations you are having are echoing around the planet in real time.

The conference also usually features a day of field trips to food and agriculture-related organizations prior to the beginning of the main conference. This year there were several, including a visit to the Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Collection at the Wisconsin Historical Society, a field trip to two social justice organizations that are linked to food and agriculture (the Badger Rock School and the Farley Center), a trip to Milwaukee to visit a variety of food-related activist organizations, a sustainable meal hackathon, and much more. I took a tour of the campus of Epic Systems, a company located outside of Madison that specializes in health-care software. The company’s campus is built with an eye toward sustainability, especially through the production of food for their employees. The site is indeed quite remarkable.

Rhubarb Madison Farmers MarketMadison is, by the way, a lovely city. If you happen to visit, be sure to stroll around the capital on a Saturday morning to see the Dane County Farmers Market and get some cheese curds (or actual cheese) or any of the great produce. Strawberries, rhubarb, and, of course, radishes were especially abundant while we were there. Such good radishes.

Next year’s conference will be in Anchorage, Alaska, June 26-29, 2019. Start making your plans now.

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Filed under AFHVS, anthropology, ASFS, Food Studies

Food Systems Sourcebook

We often get requests here at FoodAnthropology for information on food studies programs and on other resources related to food and nutrition. The collective knowledge of SAFN members (a perk of membership is access to our association listserv) usually allows us to find the requested information, so we are always happy to get requests. However, we have recently been introduced to a new resource which seems like it might also provide people with quick access to information about degree programs (in all kinds of fields related to food and nutrition), conferences, consultants, funding for research and scholarships, publishers, and much more related to food systems.

This is the Sustainable Food Systems Sourcebook, which is published by the Thomas A. Lyson Center for Civic Agriculture and Food Systems. This is the same organization that publishes the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. The number of categories for items listed in the Sourcebook is impressive. Some areas seem to have many more listings than others, but they are just starting out. If you have a resource you want to list, you can have it included for free for a basic listing (or pay for something more involved).

As it develops, this could prove to be a very useful resource. We may have to get SAFN listed! Take a look.

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What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, April 23, 2018

David Beriss

A brief digest of food and nutrition-related items that caught our attention recently. Got items you think we should include? Send links and brief descriptions to dberiss@gmail.com or hunterjo@gmail.com.

Today’s posting is a day late for Earth Day, which was yesterday, but we are going to get in on the celebrations (probably not the right word) anyhow. First, in case you did not see it, very famous anthropologist Jane Goodall was featured in the Earth Day Google Doodle, proving yet again just how important anthropology is. Here is some food advice from the earnest folks over at Food Tank. The overall message from both Food Tank and my Twitter feed seems to suggest that we are all eating too much, wasting too much, and using too much plastic. Which sounds about right. Definitely not a “celebration,” but hopefully not a commemoration either. Want more information? Visit the web site of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. Great pictures too.

With the demise some time ago of Lucky Peach, you might be tempted to declare that the age of the really innovative food magazine is dead. But some folks are not having it, or so says Tejal Rao, in this article from the New York Times. From Dill (“a quarterly publication that honors the foodways of Asia and celebrates those who make a living sustaining the culinary traditions of this vast and diverse continent’) to Mouthfeel (“food from a Gay point of view”), and Whetstone (“a digital and print magazine on food origins and culture”), along with many (many!) others, this article proves that food media is still a lively genre.

There is also some serious and interesting food anthropology out there that you should be reading. We just ran across two excellent articles in Human Organization. The first, by David Griffith, focuses on individual fishery quota programs and policies that bring a kind of neoliberal perspective to Gulf of Mexico fisheries. The second, by Guang Tian, Jianhua Zhao, Laya Liu, Shulong Xie, and Yu Liu looks at the management of food brands in China in the post-socialist economy. Here are the full citations: David Griffith (2018) Enforced Economics: Individual Fishery Quota Programs and the Privileging of Economic Science in the Gulf of Mexico Grouper-Tilefish Fishery. Human Organization: Spring 2018, Vol. 77, No. 1, pp. 42-51 and Guang Tian, Jianhua Zhao, Laya Liu, Shulong Xie, and Yu Liu (2018) Old Names Meet the New Market: An Ethnographic Study of Classic Brands in the Foodservice Industry in Shantou, China. Human Organization: Spring 2018, Vol. 77, No. 1, pp. 52-63.

The oyster industry in the Gulf Coast region has suffered in recent years, for a variety of reasons. This remarkable article by Laura Reiley, writing in the Tampa Bay Times, documents the history of the oyster economy and the struggles of oystering families around Apalachicola, Florida. The folks at the Southern Foodways Alliance called our attention to this article in a recent blog entry, which includes additional resources that you may find useful on this topic.

There is controversy among the Jews of Italy. According to Simone Somekh, publishing in Tablet, the classic Jewish Italian dish carciofi alla giudia (apparently a deep fried artichoke) has been found to be treif (not kosher) by Israeli rabbinic authorities. There is a recipe and some interesting history of the dish in Joan Nathan’s recent book “King Solomon’s Table,” if you want to make it. The conflict in Italy is really about who has authority to define Jewish culture and has resonance far beyond food.

Homaro Cantu was the famous chef behind the Chicago restaurant Moto. He was one of the leaders of the molecular gastronomy movement. He was also, it turns out, an idealist that wanted to use his culinary inventions to save the world. Read this fascinating article about his life by Kieran Morris, from the Guardian. That cigar you see in the photo at the top? Not really a cigar. Also, you may want to listen to the associated podcast.

You need more food podcasts. Seriously. Don’t we all? The Oxford Symposium folks have put together a series of podcasts based on their annual program. Food historian Laura Shapiro leads off the series with a great story about the Pillsbury Bake Off, gender, “contest cooking,” and Magic Marshmallow Crescent Puffs. I suspect that this is what the Pillsbury Doughboy would taste like. Upcoming episodes promise tales of offal, colonialism, food and sound, liver, and barbecue. Listen!

The semester is coming to end, right? So you need something fun to read, but food-related. Here are some recommended food memoirs briefly reviewed by Daniela Galarza and her colleagues at Eater. I think the book on César Ritz and Auguste Escoffier looks like something I will want to read (“Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, The Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class,” by Luke Barr), but anything by Dave Eggers is likely to be interesting (“The Monk of Mokha”) and a new biography of Edna Lewis, by Sara B. Franklin, promises good reading as well (“Edna Lewis: At the Table with an American Original”). There is quite a bit more, so this will keep you busy and out of trouble for days.

For the sheer pleasure of very nice food writing, read this brief homage to dumplings from Eastern Europe. Writing in The New Yorker, Olia Hercules describes making and eating a wide range of delicious sounding dumplings from across Eastern Europe and Central Asia. You will either want to find them or learn to make them, or both. We all need more dumplings.

On a very light note, I cannot resist calling attention to a recent episode of The Simpsons, in which they visit and pay homage to New Orleans cuisine. I have personally consumed a disturbing number of the items on the list, but it has taken me years to do that. Homer does it rather more quickly (he has a big appetite, even for a cartoon). People in New Orleans are pleased, you may enjoy the show as well. Here is the relevant food clip. All the restaurants and foods really exist (although the perceptive writer Judy Walker, at the Times-Picayune, has noted that the foods are most notably available at JazzFest, rather than at the restaurants…which, the hungry may note, starts soon).

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CHNY Scholars Grant Awards 2018

From the Culinary Historians of New York, small grants of interest to SAFN readers who are engaged in current research projects. They do not have to focus on New York! May 24, 2018 deadline for submissions.

The Culinary Historians of New York Scholar’s Grant

The CHNY Scholar’s Grant promotes research and scholarship in the field of culinary history and is awarded annually to individuals seeking financial support for a current, well-developed project that will culminate in a book, article, paper, film, or other scholarly endeavor, including ephemera. The grants are unrestricted and can be used to defray research expenses, attend conferences, or engage in other activities related to the applicant’s project. The CHNY Scholar’s Grant is merit-based; financial need is not considered in making the award.

All recipients will present their findings to Culinary Historians of New York, either in an in-person program, as an article to be included in NYFoodStory: The Journal of the Culinary Historians of New York, or as another appropriate event. Further information is included in the Application and General Release Form.

Since 2012, the importance of the CHNY Scholar’s Grant has been recognized by The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts and rewarded with generous financial support. We are pleased to announce that the support has been increased this year, allowing CHNY to award THREE grants in the amount of $3,500, $2500, and $1,500, respectively.

Details on how and when to apply are here: https://www.culinaryhistoriansny.org/awards-grants/the-scholars-grant/.

Here are some of the previous winners (a more complete list is on the web site):

2017: Clare Alsup, Elizabeth Zanoni, Tove Danovich

Claire Alsup, “Colatura di Alici: How One Town on the Amalfi Coast Preserved Ancient Roman Fish Sauce” ($3500)

Elizabeth Zanoni ,”Flight Fuel: Pan Am and the Creation of Inflight Cuisines, 1930-1980 ($2500)

Tove Danovich, “When Kosher Isn’t Kosher: 100 Years of Murder, Crime, and Fraud” ($1500)

2016: Stacy Williams, Anthony Buccini

Stacy Williams, “Recipes for Resistance: Culinary Writings from American Feminists, 1875-2005” ($3,500)

Anthony Buccini, “From Kongri to Diri ak Djondjon: Slavery, Creolization, and Culinary Genesis in Saint Domingue and Independent Haiti” ($1,500)

2015: Francis and Bronwen Percival, Emily Arendt

Francis and Bronwen Percival, “Every up-to-date cheesemaker knows: How starter cultures changed cheese, 1880-1930” ($3,500)

Professor Emily Arendt, “Making Politics Palatable: Food and Partisanship in the Early American Republic.” ($1,500)

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Filed under anthropology, awards, food history, Food Studies, grants

MOOC “Sustainable food systems: a Mediterranean perspective”

This is an announcement for a free, on-demand, on-line, course on sustainable food systems. It is an intriguing model for providing certain kinds of education about food (and other things, of course). SAFN readers may find it interesting to follow along. This could also provide a useful tool for student debates in classes you teach. Enroll in the course here.

Sustainable Food Systems: a Mediterranean Perspective

Course Description

The Mediterranean region is one of the most biodiverse in the world, home to a complex and intricate patchwork of cultures, climates, and cuisines. Food systems in the region — represented worldwide by the “Mediterranean diet” — are equally complex, demanding analysis across the political, social, cultural, economic and nutritional spectrums from landscape to table.

The ability of Mediterranean agriculture to sustain its peoples — and the planet — is now threatened by several issues:

  • Unsustainable agriculture production and limited agricultural diversification;
  • Overexploitation of natural resources, including loss of soil fertility and agricultural biodiversity;
  • Water scarcity and poor water management;
  • Limited agricultural diversification;
  • Increasingly poor nutritional value of food products and diets;
  • Food loss and waste; and
  • Decline in food culture and food sovereignty, highlighting the struggle between modernity and tradition.

This course discusses the challenges and opportunities of the agricultural sector in the Mediterranean basin. It summarizes global-to-local challenges related to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG); outlines the history and culture of agriculture and its main characteristics with a focus on the “Mediterranean diet”; explains agricultural data with a focus on rural development models and value creation; explores EU policy frameworks and international agreements related to food and agriculture in the Mediterranean; and highlights emerging opportunities linked to innovation and sustainability in the sector.

This course is for:

  • Students at the undergraduate or graduate level interested in the main challenges facing the Mediterranean region;
  • Current and future practitioners in the agriculture, food and beverage sectors who wish to gain useful insights about current and future trends and business opportunities; and
  • Policymakers and regional stakeholders who want to deepen their knowledge of agricultural policy, investment, and decisionmaking in the region and globally.

How do we produce more, better quality, and safer food while simultaneously achieving social and environmental goals? Join this course to find out.

Course Structure and Requirements

This course is offered on demand, which means that the content is available in its entirety with no closing date. Students may enroll at anytime, and may complete all content at any time suitable to their schedule. While on demand courses are not monitored by course staff or instructors, we encourage students to share their experiences, questions, and resources with one another using the discussion forum anyway.

Structure: Video lectures, readings, and quizzes

Estimated time commitment: 2 hours per module

Cost: Free

Requirements: An internet connection

Certificates: Students who successfully complete the course will receive a digital certificate of proficiency, signed by the course organizers. In order to successfully complete the course, students must score an average of 70% or higher on the quizzes, all of which are multiple choice. Students who score 85% or higher will receive certificates of proficiency with distinction. Certificates will be distributed within 2 weeks of completing the course.

Credits: While this course is not credit granting, we encourage students to work with their own institutions to explore the option of granting credit for online coursework.


Syllabus

Prologue: Prof. Jeffrey Sachs

Module 1. The Mediterranean challenges around food and agriculture
1.1 Introduction to this MOOC (Prof. Alessio Cavicchi)
1.2 Mediterranean challenges and innovation in food systems (Prof. Angelo Riccaboni)
1.3 Theoretical framework, objectives and course outline (Prof. Alessio Cavicchi)
1.4 Contextualizing the SDGs for the Mediterranean region: what do the SDGs mean for the countries of the Mediterranean? (Prof. Phoebe Koundouri)

Module 2. History of agri-culture in Mediterranean basin and Mediterranean Diet (Prof. Ayman Farid Abou-Hadid)
2.1 The origin of agriculture
2.2 Civilisations
2.3 Middles ages and early modern
2.4 Modern agriculture
2.5 Agriculture and habits of local communities: the origin of the “Mediterranean diet”

Module 3. Poverty alleviation, economic and social rural development 
3.1 Economics of food systems
3.2 Rural development
3.3 Markets and supply chains
3.4 International trade
3.5 Development enhancing investments
3.6 Food governance

Module 4: Fisheries and Aquaculture 
4.1 Our Ocean: A Finite Resource
4.2 Dance of the plankton
4.3 Marine Food Chains
4.4 Fisheries Economics and Management
4.5 Aquaculture and Mariculture
4.6 Sustainable Management of Fisheries
4.7 Summing it up

Module 5. How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Mediterranean – The way forward 
I. Water resources and Fisheries Management (Prof. Maite Aldaya)
5.1 Challenges
5.2 Theoretical chapter
5.3 Successful case studies in Mediterranean

Module 6. How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Mediterranean – The way forward
II. Sustainable farming systems under environmental and climatic constraints
6.1 Challenges (Prof. Riccardo Valentini)
6.1b Challenges at Mediterranean level
6.2 Theoretical chapter (Arbaoui Sarra)
6.3 Successful case studies in Mediterranean (Arbaoui Sarra)

Module 7. How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Mediterranean – The way forward 
III. Food value chain for regional and local development
7.1 Challenges of the Mediterranean food value chains (Prof. Angelo Riccaboni)
7.2 Theoretical chapter (Prof. Stefano Pascucci)
7.3 Successful case studies in Mediterranean (Prof Stefano Pascucci)

Module 8. How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Mediterranean – The way forward
IV. Reducing food waste and enhancing by-product innovations
8.1 Challenges (Prof Ali Abdelaziz)
8.2 Theoretical chapter (Prof Ali Abdelaziz)
8.3 Case studies in Egypt (Prof. Amr Helal)

Module 9. How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Mediterranean –  The way forward 
V. Nutrition and Education
9.1 Challenges (prof. Gabriele Riccardi)
9.2 Theoretical chapter (prof. Gabriele Riccardi)
9.3 Successful Case studies in North Africa and Middle East (Prof. Reema Tayyem)

Module 10. New professional profiles in a Mediterranean context (Dr. Sonia Massari – Gustolab International Food Systems and Sustainability)
10.1 Professional needs to face sustainability issues
10.2 Youth & food: new entrepreneurs in the Med food systems
10.3 Professional profiles in the agrifood sector
10.4 Professional profiles in the “sustainable tourism” sector: food as destination branding driver
10.5 The role of Higher Education Institutions: international cooperation, exchange and mobility
10.6 A job for the future: the “innovation broker”

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Filed under anthropology, Food Studies