Truly Food for Thought
By JAN ELLEN SPIEGEL
Published: April 13, 2012
THE study of food has had a home in higher education for generations. Agriculture was a founding mission of the land-grant university system started in the 1860s. Nutrition programs are commonplace. Culinary schools were around long before Julia Child turned Le Cordon Bleu on its butter-sauced ear.
But in an era of widespread interest, if not downright concern, about how that ear of corn, destined for a pot of boiling water on a perfect summer evening is grown, processed, marketed, distributed and used — and what it means for health, commerce, the economy and even the ecological state of the planet — colleges and universities have come to realize that the classic food disciplines simply will not do anymore.
And so food studies was born.
This new academic field, taking shape in an expanding number of colleges and universities, coordinates the food-related instruction sprinkled throughout academia in recognition that food is not just relevant, but critical to dozens of disciplines. It’s agriculture; it’s business; it’s health; it’s the economy; it’s the environment; it’s international relations; it’s war and peace.
Food studies is being embraced by students interested in new careers in food safety reform, local-food businesses and anti-obesity, equity and climate efforts, as well as those seeking broader contexts for traditional disciplines like culinary arts and farming.
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