Food, Taste, and Waste
Photo by; Danish Agriculture and food council
|Semester & Location:||
Summer 2022, Session 2 - DIS Copenhagen
|Type & Credits:||
Elective Course - 3 credits
Environmental Humanities, Anthropology, Food Studies, Environmental Studies
Camilla Hoff-Jørgensen, email@example.com
Sanne Rasmussen, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Time & Place:||
Monday through Friday
Sustainable development in food is becoming increasingly important in the agri-food sector and the global economy, in political debates, and in many consumers’ minds. In this course, we will look into current sustainability trends in food consumerism and production, how these have come about, and their impact in cultural, economic, and even artistic terms. Through conversations with farmers, chefs, artisans, food policy organizations, and food entrepreneurs you will learn about what Danes eat and how they respond to current food issues, while also getting acquainted with general anthropological and political perspectives on the topic of food, taste, and waste. Through the study tour to Barcelona, we will compare the Nordic foodscapes with the agriculture and consumption patterns in southern Europe. More specifically Catalunya in Spain.
Many Michelin-starred restaurants now flaunt their uses of sustainable, local, seasonal ingredients. They serve a deliberately sustainable meal with thought for nature and local farmers, which is a trend that can be seen as a crusade against the overproducing society. This focus on local, seasonal food has made chefs and ethical consumers turn to mushroom hunting, foresting berries in Iceland, micro-fishing in Greenland, collecting wild eggs in the Faroe Islands. It is a regional pilgrimage for finding meaning and being aware of the footprints we leave behind us, reflecting the fact that eating is much more than simply sustenance and taste. Food production is everything from international political agriculture regulations, and the industrialization of farming, to cultural, social and individual values.
Although many are aware that the current international food systems contribute disproportionately to an increasing carbon footprint, environmental degradation, and a massive amount of food waste, it seems difficult to find a clear answer to the solution. In this course, we will look at the connection between Europe’s food history, shaped by geography and economy and new alternative foodscapes, materializing a critique of unsustainable societies by honoring manual food labor and connection to local micro produce, while at the same time showing a nostalgia for previous economic and industrial growth. Through visits and hands-on activities, students will learn about the terroir of Denmark and Spain, the development of Danish and Spanish food production and export, and our current issues with minimizing food waste and and transforming to a more sustainable diet. During the 3 weeks we will have an abundance of opportunities to explore and taste Danish and Spanish food and food culture.
The overall objective of the course is to enable students to understand current cultural meanings of food and food issues. The course aims to endow them with a strong sense of sustainable food trends in Denmark and Spain and the international solutions to food-related issues.
By the end of this course, the students will have:
- a greater understanding of the food system, and the knowledge, tools, and motivation they need to effect real change.
- developed a sense of the local tastes and food trends of Denmark, and how these relate to broader cultures.
- an understanding of food consumption and food waste, and how to analyze the role of food in environmental issues.
- developed a sense of how to think critically about food as a reflection of social, political, and economic phenomena.
Field Studies and Guest Lecturers
Potential visits and guests include:
- Havhøst (sea foresting, seaweed, and mussels)
- Vild mad (foresting trip)
- Food waste initiatives: Løsmarked, We share, Grim Kassen, Food sharing
- Chefs’ take, Slow Food in Barcelona
- Alternatives to the meat industry
- Municipal food waste initiatives
- Upcycling projects
- Guided walks to different areas of Copenhagen and Barcelona
Havhøst (sea foresting trip, seaweed, and mussels)
Vild mad (foresting trip)
Upcycling project of mash from beer production
DAKA - Biowaste production
Guided walks to different areas of Copenhagen
There is no textbook for this course and readings are found exclusively on Canvas.
- Halewa (2020), Eating and Drinking in Global Brooklyn.
- Ocejo (2017), Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy.
- Pollan (2008), In Defence of Food.
- Shiva (2016). Who Really Feeds the World? The Failures of Agribusiness and the Promise of Agroecology.
- Hauter (2012). Foodopoly. The Battle over the future of food and farming in America.
- Essig (2015), The benevolent tyranny of the pig
This is a selection of the course readings. The complete readings will be available on Canvas.
Camilla Hoff-Jørgensen holds a BA. in Nutrition and Health (2006) and a BA. and cand.scient in Anthropology (2012). She worked as a cultural informant in Hiroshima, Japan educating and arranging events about Danish and Scandinavian food cultures, and developing comparative studies of the Danish (European) and Japanese food cultures. Camilla has also been a text-writer for a monthly article for the Japanese, SHUN magazine, about Danish eating culture and traditions. She moreover has international working experience in Bangkok and Barcelona where she lived and worked with food and culture. In Denmark, Camilla has done various research within the fields of medical anthropology and anthropology of food. She is currently working on an experience design study, covering restaurant NOMA's reaction to COVID19.
Office hours are held after class or by appointment.
Approach to Teaching
The methods used to cover class materials include lectures, videos, discussions, individual and group presentations, guest lectures, and daily field trips. The course will have several out-of-the-classroom sessions on location to experience the different facets of food firsthand and hands-on. Students are expected to be able to find and be at the external locations on time. The external locations will not be far from DIS's location and maps and addresses will be given in advance.
Expectations of the Students
I expect you to attend all class sessions unless prevented by an emergency. If you are not in class, you cannot participate. I expect you to complete all the assigned readings and come to class prepared to discuss them in-depth. I expect you to turn in assignments on time.
All students are expected to have completed the course readings before class so that we can discuss the material at the right level. It is important to be well prepared for class because I may randomly select students to give key points on the readings for that day.
Students are expected to participate actively in all classes and field studies and be open-minded to their fellow student’s contributions to the class. The aim is to establish an environment where we can learn from each other as well as from the texts and cases we engage with, and you are expected to actively support this approach.
Students will be evaluated on their ability to understand, discuss, and communicate theories within the field of food anthropology as well as interpret them meaningfully. These skills will be the primary focus of evaluations. Group work in class and in the field as well as the student's ability to contribute to a group effort will be taken into account for the final grade.
Your final grade consists of the following three elements:
A Social Critique of the Judgement of Food Waste (Group paper)
Based on group work Friday during the first week of the course.
Slow Food Reflection (Group paper)
Based on a dedicated restaurant visit during the study tour.
Food Analysis (Individual or Group paper)
Based on an interview and social theory. Students individually or in pairs choose a topic of their own choice, based on the literature of this course. Students find a relevant informant whose narratives hopefully can uncover cultural interpretations about this topic, and analyze the narrative based on social theories used in class. Students work on this assignment for all the 3 weeks.
Class Engagement (Individual Grade)
Engagement entails among others: Active participation in class discussions, preparation for each class, reading of assigned texts, reflection on reading, active participation in field studies, and presenting cases and raising questions in class discussions.
To be eligible for a passing grade in this class you must complete all of the assigned work.
For your time in Denmark, we all have a collective responsibility to avoid the spread of COVID-19 at DIS. If you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19 (dry cough, high temperature, breathing difficulties, sore throat, headache, muscle pain), please stay at home and inform your faculty that you won’t be in class or at a field study – this will count as an excused absence. Keep up with the work and join activities via distance learning, if you are able to and if it is an option in your class (check with your faculty). If you are too sick to do work, reach out to the care team at email@example.com for medical support and coordinate with your faculty to make up missed class time.
Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:
DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia - www.DISabroad.org
The syllabus page shows a table-oriented view of the course schedule, and the basics of course grading. You can add any other comments, notes, or thoughts you have about the course structure, course policies or anything else.
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