The Davies Forum

Our Food, Our Society: An Exploration of American Values

Fall 2001


Second Paper (Due Thurs, Nov 8, 5-6 pages)

This paper should cover some aspect of the topic of social justice/ethics and food.  It could be on any of the following topics:
the California migrant workers, the poor in the nation and food/nuturition, "Who should feed the hungry" debate, or on
vegetarianism.  (If you want some info on "food as rights" issue, check the Foodfirst.org site.  They have lots and lots of links.)  It should be an EVALUATIVE paper, which means that you take a position or stance within the debate, stating and justifying what you think the preferable position should be according to you (rather than just surveying the debate).  As is before, personal observations and reflections are welcome.

Or, if you want to continue on your first paper as an overall theme, you could stay on the same theme from your first paper but add a social justice/society dimension to it (but this new component should be 5-6 pages of new material, like a second part of the overall paper).

I will bring the next set of readings on Nov 1.


Dr. Yoko Arisaka, Philosophy Department
Class:  Thursday, 3:10a-5:50p,  CA C13
Office: Campion D6  (Note: At the beginning of the semester I will be in CA D8D)
Office Hours: Thurs, 1:30-3p, but I will be around otherwise.  Please Check.
Office Phone: 422-6424   (422-6543 for the philosophy dept.)
email: arisaka@usfca.edu


About the Davies Forum

The Louise M. Davies Forum at the University of San Francisco is a challenging intellectual program that focuses on values in public life.  By bringing distinguished visitors to campus to work with selected USF students and interested faculty in seminars and discussions, the Forum provides opportunity for informed consideration of timely national and international issues.

The continuing theme of the Davies Forum, “The Search for Values in Contemporary America,” promises a refreshing examination of the turbulent state of American society in the last half of the 20th Century and into the 21st Century.  But perhaps more importantly, it fosters an analysis of the country’s current struggle to define its purpose and direction.  Each year the Forum members choose a different perspective from which to pursue their investigations.

This fall, I have selected a perspective involving “food, culture, and social justice,” to examine the theme.  Despite the fact that food is one of the most significant elements in our lives, there have been relatively few systematic studies of food and its meaning in the context of our selfhood, identity, care, culture, society, and politics.  This course aims to examine the cultural meaning of food, its impact on our lives, as well as its ethical, political, and philosophical significance, in both national and international contexts.



Delectable Davies Shake

17 enthusiastic and top-quality “Davies Scholars” students
1 enthusiastic professor
large amount of keen intellect
mountains of curiosity
lots of passion
5 outstanding speakers

Mix the first two ingredients.  Add the next three ingredients.  Stir vigorously.  Add the last ingredient, one at a time, carefully mixing after each addition so that it becomes well-blended.  Serve with the spirit of sharing and good will.  Enjoy!


Course Description:

The overall theme of the course aims specifically to address value questions regarding food and our relation to the culture and politics of food.  While food is such an intimate, important part of our daily lives from the day we are born to the day we die, we tend not to reflect on this topic in a deep and responsible manner.  But once the attention is drawn to the topic, most people immediately recognize the importance of taking food seriously, not only in terms of the cultural importance of food in one’s identity but especially in the context of social justice, since lack of food is a constant problem in our society for many, despite our wealth.  Therefore, the study of food in this light is very much in the spirit of the Davies Program, “the search for values in contemporary America,” and in today’s context, this search also extends beyond America into the global context.  Given the population crisis which we are likely to face in the next decades, the issues of world food production and consumption, as well as the biotechnology of food, are indeed serious issues that informed citizens ought to become aware of.  If Davies scholars are to become leaders, this is certainly a topic that they should have some familiarity with, as informed global citizens, even if one may not specialize in it.

The course has the following three parts:

1. Food, Culture, and Identity.  In this section, we will examine issues such as the role of food in cultural identity; food, domesticity, and gender; gastronomy as art; food and human relations; food, nutrition and healing.
2. Food, Ethics, and Social Justice.  In this section the issues focus on broader, more political issues regarding food, such as food as a symbol of care, problems with food distribution; domestic and world hunger problems; the debates concerning vegetarianism.
3. Food and Our World, Our Future.  The course ends with reflections on issues regarding food and technology (biotechnology of food), food production and global population, and related issues that would include further considerations on the politics of food.

To enhance our learning, in addition to the regular seminar activities (discussions of the material) and academic requirements (papers), this course also aims to focus on “hands-on” transformative experiences involving food.  It includes:

? Visiting guest lecturers, all food specialists in one way or another, who will come to the seminar as well as present public talks (see schedule and descriptions below)
? Opportunity for you to take a one-day course at the California Culinary Academy (on Polk Street).  You will have a choice of “appetizers,” “desserts,” “main dish,” “ethnic cuisine,” “wine,” etc.  Do a report.
? Opportunity to work at Project Open Hand, St. Anthony’s Foundation, Valley of the Hearts, and other local food-related organizations
? Food journals and reflections
? Chance to share food and recipes by way of monthly potluck, if feasible.
? Watch and critique food-related film
? Do a book report on food-related material

Davies Speakers and Public Events

Monday, September 17.  7:30 pm,  Lone Mountain 140

Merry White

Professor of Anthropology at Boston University and Research Associate at Harvard University

Dr. White conducts fieldwork in Japan annually to continue her research on families, material culture, education, and food.  She has many publications on these topics, and has recently completed a book on families and social change in Japan (forthcoming, University of California Press). Her teaching includes courses about Japanese society, comparative family studies and culinary anthropology.   She is author of more than 8 books,  some of which includes: Comparing Cultures: Readings on Contemporary Japan for American Writers (1995), Challenging Tradition: Women in Japan (1991), The Japanese Educational Challenge: A Commitment to Children (Free Press 1987 and Kodansha 1988), Noodles Galore (Basic Books, 1976), and Cooking for Crowds (Basic Books, 1974).

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Center for the Pacific Rim, USF.

Thursday, September 27.  7:30 pm, Lone Mountain 140

Tom Nolan

Excecutive Director, Project Open Hand


Founded in 1985 by Ruth Brinker, Project Open Hand is one of the largest non-profit organizations in San Francisco.  POH provides home delivered meals, groceries and nutrition counseling to people living with HIV/AIDS; congregate lunches and nutrition education to seniors; meal service for homebound and critically ill people under the age of 60.

Thursday, October 11

Richard Steven Street

Photographer and Historian

5 pm, Accolti Room, Xavier Hall

“Shooting Farm Workers:  Food and American Values”
Roundtable with the seminar.  Moderated by Yoko Arisaka, Dept. of Philosophy

7:30 p.m,  McLaren 252

“Searching for Cover:  Photographers, Photography and the Farm Worker Experience in California, 1850-2000”
A two-slide lecture by Richard Steven Street

The events for Richard Steven Street are co-sponsored by the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, the California Historical Society, and by a grant from the California Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Dr. Richard Steven Street, historian and photographer, has chronicled agricultural workers for more than 20 years.  He has been nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize and received the Lincoln Steffens Award for Investigative Journalism from the Sonoma Press Club; the Thomas Storke Award for International Journalism from the Commonwealth Club; and Best Agricultural Reporting in California, from the Sigma Delta Chi Journalism Fraternity.  His three-volume, comprehensive history of California farm workers from 1769-2000 is forthcoming from Stanford University Press.  He has also been a Fellow at the Center for U.S-Mexico Studies, U. C. San Diego, a Visiting Professor in the History Department at Stanford University, and a Fellow in the Stanford Humanities Center. He taught the history of photography and exploited his vast file of 10,000 historical images to teach the first illustrated lecture course on California farm workers.  His is a Guggenheim Fellow, 2001-2002.
 

Thursday, November 8.  7:30 pm,  McLaren 250

Harvey Stone

Global Community Project, New Mexico

“Feeding the Global Community”

Dr. Stone specializes in tracking the political, economic, social, technological and agricultural trends that are propelling us towards both global catastrophe and Global Community. From trading CO2 emissions to supplying the world's people with food, he researches their implications for how we will live, work, structure our communities and evolve our global inter-dependence over the next 25 years. Harvey is the Director of the Global Community Project. Previously, he founded Well-Spoken!, a communications company working with high-tech corporations. Harvey has also taught in the MBA program at UC-Berkeley. He hosted a radio show for 3 years that featured positive developments moving us towards a more equitable and sustainable world. He has presented on food and other global issues to Heifer Project International, the High Country Community Alliance and many other groups. He has led trainings in The Natural Step and is currently a member of the Japan-US Sustainability Study Group.
 

Moday, November 19.  7:30 pm,  McLaren 250

Darra Goldstein

Professor of Russian, Williams College

Founding Editor, Gastronomica


Dr. Goldstein has written extensively on Russian literature, culture, art, and cuisine.  Her books include A Taste of Russia and The Georgian Feast The Vibrant Culture & Savory Food of the Republic of Georgia.  She is Founding Editor of Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, published by the University of California Press. Combining a keen appreciation for the pleasures and aesthetics of food with the latest in food studies, Gastronomica is a vital quarterly forum for ideas, discussion, and thoughtful reflection on the history, representation, and cultural impact of food.

Textbook and Other Course Material

Course Texts

? Cooking, Eating, Thinking: Transformative Philosophies of Food(1992), Deane Curtin and Lisa Heldke, eds. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.
? Food for Thought: Philosophy and Food (1996), Elizabeth Telfer.  New York: Routledge.
? The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature (1994), Leon Kass.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
? Course Reader for Part II and III

Other Possible Readings May Be Selected From:

NOTE:  I have most of these books, and you are welcome to borrow them.

? Eating Culture (1998), Ron Scapp and Brian Seitz, eds.  Albany: SUNY Press.
? Making Sense of Taste: Food and Philosophy (1999), Carolyn Korsmeyer.  Cornell University Press.
? Through the Kitchen Window : Women Writers Explore the Intimate Meanings of Food and Cooking (1998), Arlene Voski Avakian, ed.  New York: Beacon Press.
? Soul of a Chef: The Journey Towards Perfection (2000), Michael Ruhlman.  New York: Viking.
? In the Year of Meats (1998), Ruth Ozeki.
? We Are What We Eat : Ethnic Food and the Making of Americans (1998), Donna R. Gabaccia.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
? Kitchen Confidential (2000), Anthony Bourdain.  The Ecco Press.
? The Man Who Ate Everything (1997), Jeffrey Steingarten.  Vintage.
? Wake Up and Cook: Kitchen Buddhism in Words and Recipes (1997), Carole Tonkinson.  Riverhead Books.
? Deep Vegetarianism (1999), Michael Allen Fox.  Temple Univ. Press.
? American Appetite: The Coming of Age of a National Cuisine (1999), Leslie Brenner.  Perennial.
? Whitebread Protestants: Food and Religion in American Culture (2000), Daniel Sack. St. Martin’s Press.
? We Are What We Ate: 24 Memories of Food (1998). Mark Winegardner, ed. Harcourt Brace.
? Que Vivan Los Tamales : Food and the Making of Mexican Identity (Dialogos Series) (1998), Jeffrey M. Pilcher.  Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
? Food and Culture : A Reader (1997), Carole Counihan, Penny Van Esterik, and Penny Van Esterik, eds.  New York: Routledge.
? Consuming Geographies : We Are Where We Eat (1997), David Bell and Gill Valentine.  New York: Routledge
? Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation (1982), Amartya Sen.  Oxford: Clarendon Press.
? Against the Grain: Biotechnology and the Corporate Takeover of Your Food (1998), Marc Lappe and Britt Baily, Maine: Common Courage Press
? The Biotech Century (1998), Jeremy Rifkin, New York: Putnam

Film on Food and Culture:

? Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978: Germany/U.S.A./Italy/France)
? Dim Sum (1984: U. S. A.)
? Babette’s Feast (1987: Denmark)
? Tampopo (1987: Japan)
? The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover (1989: UK)
? Combination Platter (1993: U. S. A.)
? The Wedding Banquet (1993: Taiwan and U. S. A.)
? Like Water for Chocolate (1993: Mexico)
? Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (1994: Taiwan)
? Big Night (1996: U. S. A.)
? Soul Food (1997: U. S. A.)
? Woman on Top (1999: U. S. A.)
? Catfish and Black Bean Sauce (2000: U. S. A.)
? Iron Chef (on-going): Japanese TV Show on Cooking Matches

Course Requirements

1.  Attendance for the seminar and the public events is required.  Please let me know if you have problems with the Monday dates.  (See schedule below.)
2.  Two short papers (5-6 pages each), after Part I and II; you may build up toward the final paper.
3.  Final Paper (12-15 pages)
4.  Food journal (reflections on the items you’ve made, eaten, recipes, restaurant reviews, work you have done at food-related organizations, etc.)
5.  Book report (you may select a book from the list above, or find your own)
6.  Film report
7.  Taking a course at the California Culinary Academy is not a requirement but a privilege.
8.  Volunteer at Project Open Hand, St. Anthony’s etc., are also not a requirement, though strongly recommended.

Course Schedule

Week 1.  August 23:  Introduction and Overview:  “What is Food, and Why Study Food?”  Handout

Section I:  Food, Culture, and Identity
Week 2 (Aug 30):  Tefler, chap 1-3
Week 3 (Sept 6):   Tefler,  chap 4-6
Week 4 (Sept 13):  Kass, selections from Curtin
**Week 5 (Monday, Sept 17, seminar 4-6pm, dinner, 7:30pm LM 140):  Merry White
Week 5 (Sept 20):  Kass, selections from Curtin
**Week 6 (Sept 27, seminar, dinner, 7:30pm LM 140:  Tom Nolan
(First Paper Due.)

Section II: Food, Ethics, and Social Justice
Week 7 (Oct 4: No Class in lieu of Sept 20)
**Week 8 (Oct 11: seminar, then 5pm Accolti Room, dinner, 7:30p ML250) Richard Steven Street
Week 9 (Oct 18): Ethics of Food: hunger problems, distribution
Week 10 (Oct 25): Vegetarianism (ethics, environment, and other debates)
(Second Paper Due)

Section III: Food and Our World, Our Future (one to two speakers)
Week 11 (Nov 1): Food and the environment
**Week 12 (Nov 8: seminar, dinner, 7:30p ML250) Harvey Stone
Week 13 (Nov 15):  Biotechnology debates
**Week 14 (Monday, Nov 19. 4pm seminar, dinner, 7:30p ML 250) Darra Goldstein

Week 15 (Nov 29):  Summary and Final Discussions

Final Paper Due: Thursday, December 13, 4pm.



Back to my main page.