Monday, November 30, 2009

Reading your way to a better life by eating better through what you read

A new class has emerged at Penn State that I want to encourage all PSU undergraduates reading this post to take. Eat Your Ecology: Food Writing and Environmentalism - English 297C taught by Kimberly Andrews. As a big proponent of understanding where our food comes from, how it's grown, slaughtered, processed, etc. I can only say that the reading list alone makes me wish I were an undergraduate again. Wendell Berry's Unsettling of America, Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma, Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, numerous other hot readings, and some great experiential learning. Check it!

The course is described as follows:

This course aims to bring you closer to your food — intellectually, literally, and ecologically. Over the course of a semester, we will tackle questions such as: What, exactly, are we eating? Where does it come from? What are the environmental impacts of the current dietary culture of this country? How do our eating habits map onto other American (or, more generally, Western) ways of life — urbanism, corporatization, consumerism, capitalism? How can we use food, and narratives about food, to look at community development, local and national politics, spiritual enrichment, and ethics? Lastly, what do farmers really do, anyway?

There will be multiple experiential aspects of this class. You will travel to and work on farms. Every day, you will take note of the kinds of foods you choose to eat and occasionally expand upon those choices in a journal. We’ll take a day one weekend to go foraging — hopefully, we’ll have learned enough to go about finding some beneficial wild foods. Finally, we’ll of course cook a meal together (and we’ll share food constantly in class), using only local, sustainably produced food. Good nourishment for body and mind: that’s the goal of this course.

Come on. Take it. You get to go foraging. I hope I can just go on one of the weekend trips. Maybe they can join our club for a farm trip or to visit Stone Meadow Farm to make cheese.

For more contact information, go here.

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