Rachel Black has conducted ethnographic research in Italy, France, the United States and Canada, focusing on the production, distribution and consumption of food. Since joining the Connecticut College Anthropology Department, Black has done research in New London with community partners such as Brigaid, the New London County Food Policy Council, and FRESH New London. Black is particularly interested in what food can tell us about social organization, inequality, and cultural change in Europe and North America.
Learn about and participate in the agricultural process from seed to harvest; the journey of food from the farm to the plate; and the cultural importance of food and drink.
Despite the centrality of food in our lives, never before have there been fewer farmers, higher rates of diet-related illnesses, and greater inequalities when it comes to food access. At the same time, there is growing interest in sustainable food production and culture in response to the current system.
The Food Pathway provides a hands-on experience in which students learn about and participate in the agricultural process from seed to harvest; the journey of food from the farm to the plate; and from policy creation to implementation. The culture of the table and the art of cooking will be explored along with the biology of eating and the chemistry of cooking.
Students in the Food Pathway will examine how existing and historical food systems function in relation to the surrounding environmental and cultural landscapes. Through experiential, community-based learning, students will define and assess the responsible use of resources such as land, water, soil, and inputs to ensure sustainable food production and provisioning. They will investigate the drivers of inequality in food systems and chart paths towards a more just and sustainable food system at the local, regional, and national levels, recognizing the interconnections between local food production, policy, access, and health. Further, they will explore cuisine and food culture at the intersection of disciplines such as chemistry, literature, psychology, and language. Graduates of the Food Pathway will have the tools and insights necessary to become change-makers in our food system, whether it be in production, policy, entrepreneurship, education, or community engagement.
The thematic inquiry will be a single team-taught four-credit course. The instructor of record will teach an initial module to introduce key concepts and issues in food systems and food studies. The instructor of record will be in charge of organizing modules of classes that will be taught by faculty from throughout the campus and by guest lecturers (industry experts, academics, etc.). The instructor of record will also work with students to contextualize the modules and help students develop their animating questions.
Modules will include:
- Frameworks: Food for thought
- Cultivation: Growing food
- From Farm to Fork: Distributing and preparing food
- At the Table and Beyond: Food consumption and waste
While students construct their own animating questions, some possible examples include:
- What are the environmental, economic, and cultural barriers preventing more local food production in New London?
- Can increased involvement in community food initiatives alleviate diet-related illness?
- Are there sustainable production models or lessons to be learned from past land use in New England?
- What would an economically-sustainable model to improve fresh produce access in low-income neighborhoods look like?
- In what ways can food be used to create greater acceptance of cultural diversity?