History 595F: Food, Culture, and Policy


University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Spring 2013


T, Th 9:30-10:45am

106 Herter Hall


Professor: Laura Lovett                             

635 Herter Hall                                                                          


Office Hours: T Th 2:00-3:00, and by appointment      


Course Description:  The food systems that we all participate in are products of historical processes. We will historically contextualize practices of food production, distribution, and consumption through a range of topics, such as trends in food advertising, the rise of the supermarket, the mass production of prepared foods, the creation of nutritional norms, changing agricultural policies, the farm labor movement, and the contemporary popularity of organic foods.  This class will allow students to research, critique and write about the ways in which our current food system developed by understanding what came before and how things have changed. We will work with primary sources, including materials like cookbooks, government reports, personal narratives, ephemera, and advertising.


Texts:  Patrick Rael, Reading, Writing, and Researching for History:  A Guide for College Students    (http://www.bowdoin.edu/writing-guides/)

Additional readings are provided on the course Moodle site.


Course Website https://moodle.umass.edu



Commodity  Paper  (4 pages)  due 2/5  [12.5%]

Food Paper (4 pages) due 2/14   [12.5%]

                  Coop Paper  (7-9 pages) due 3/12  [25%]                 

                  Research Paper (15-25 pages)

                                    Proposal (1-2 pages)  due 3/26   [5%}

                                    Rough Draft (8-10 pages)  due 4/9    [10%]

                                    Peer Evaluation (1-2 pages)  due 4/11  [5%]

                                    Final Draft (15-20 pages)  due 4/30   [30%]



Grade Scale

The University Grade Scale will be followed:

A = 93 and above; A- = 92-90; B+ = 89-88; B = 83-87; B- = 82-80; C+=79-78; C = 73-77; C- = 72-70; D+ = 69-69; D = 60-67; F = 59 and below.


Late Assignments

Numerous problems are lurking out there to help you miss assignment deadlines.  Computer failures, family crises, and misreading the syllabus will all send you scrambling to complete work on time.  Please plan ahead and be ready to work around such problems where possible.  Papers are due at the beginning of class.  Late papers will be docked one third of a letter grade for every day they are late.


Academic Honesty

Plagiarism is a serious violation of expected academic conduct.  Your work must be your own.  If you quote or paraphrase work from someone else, you must give credit and provide a reference for that source.  Links to guidelines on plagiarism, including the official policy on academic honesty, can be found on the following webpage: http://www.umass.edu/history/links_writing.html. The penalty for plagiarism in this class is zero credit for the assignment in question.

As a condition of continued enrollment in this course, you agree to submit all four papers to the Turnitin service for textual comparison or originality review for the detection of possible plagiarism. All submitted assignments will be included in the UMass Amherst dedicated databases of assignments at Turnitin. These databases of assignments will be used solely for the purpose of detecting possible plagiarism during the grading process and during this term and in the future. Students who do not submit their papers electronically to Turnitin will be required to submit copies of the cover page and first cited page of each source listed in the bibliography with the final paper in order to receive a grade on the assignment.



If you have a documented disability that may affect your performance in the class, please speak to me as soon as possible so that appropriate arrangements can be made.


Course Schedule (Subject to Change): Please read & prepare the materials assigned before the class meets.


T            1/22     Introduction    


Th          1/24     Food, Tradition, and History

Reading:   Rachel Laudan, “Getting Started in Food History”

Eric Hobsbawm, “Inventing Traditions” in The Invented Tradition, Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, Editors (Cambridge University Press, 1983), 1-14.

                                    Patrick Rael, “How to Read a Primary Source”


T            1/29                     The Global Circulation of Commodities

Reading: Sucheta Mazumdar, “China and the Global Atlantic: Sugar from the Age of Columbus to Pepsi-Coke and Ethanol,” Food and Foodways 16 (2008), 135-147.

                                   Patrick Rael, “How to Read a Secondary Source”


Th        1/31    Immigration and the Invention of American Ethnic Food

Reading:  Krishnendu Ray, “Nation and Cuisine: The Evidence from American Newspapers, ca. 1830-2003,” Food and Foodways 16 (2008), 259-297.

Knut Oyangen, “The Gastrodynamics of Displacement: Place-making and Gustatory Identity in the Immigrants’ Midwest,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 39 (2009), 323-348.

Megan Elias, “Summoning the Food Ghosts: Food History as Public History,” The Public Historian 34 (2012), 13-29.

Tenement Museum Website (http://www.tenement.org)


T            2/5      Nutrition Comes of Age

Commodity Paper Due in Class.


Harvey Levenstein, Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet (University of California Press, 2003), excerpt.

Ellen S. Richards, “Food,” in The Cost of Living (John Wiley and Sons, 1899).

                                    Ellen S. Richards, The Dietary Computer (John Wiley and Sons, 1902).

Frank Underhill, “The Cost of Adequate Nutrition,” Yale Review 1, n.s. (1911-12), 261 -273


Th          2/7       Feeding the Nation

Reading:  Victory Gardens at the Strawberry Banke Museum (http://www.strawberybanke.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=74&Itemid=140)

Lunch Hour, New York Public Library Exhibit (http://exhibitions.nypl.org/lunchhour/exhibits/show/lunchhour)


T          2/12     Making Modern Food Policy

Reading:  Carolyn Dimitri, Anne Effland, and Neilson Conklin, “The 20th Century Transformation of U.S. Agriculture and Farm Policy,” Economic Information Bulletin Number 3 (2005).

Michael Pollan, “You Are What You Grow.”  (http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/you-are-what-you-grow/)

Melissa Mortazavi, “Are Food Subsidies Making Our Kids Fat? Tensions Between the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act and the Farm Bill,” Washington and Lee Law Review 68 (2011), 1699-1735.


Th        2/14    Food Policy

                                    Meet at Library, Room 1667.


T           2/19    No Class: Monday Schedule  


Th          2/21    Local Food Systems:  The Amherst Food Coop Challenge

                                    Food Paper Due in Class.

                                    Reading: Adam Trott, “The Story of Collective Copies”

Christopher Gunn, “Co-op Success and Failure: Finance Remains an Issue”

Roderick Hill, “The Case of the Missing Organizations: Co-operatives and the Textbooks,” Journal of Economic Education  (2000), 281-295.

Margaret Lund, Solidarity as a Business Manual:  A Multi-stakeholder Cooperatives Manual (Cooperative Development Center at Kent State, n.d.).


T           2/26    Local Food Systems:  The Rise of the Supermarket    

Reading: Tracey Deutsch,  From Wild Animal Stores to Women's Sphere: Supermarkets and Mass Consumption, 1930-1950,” Business and Economic History 28 (1999), 143-153.

Tracey Deutsch,  Untangling Alliances: Social Tensions at Neighborhood Grocery Stores and the Rise of Chains,” in Food nations: selling taste in consumer societies. Warren Belasco and Philip Scranton, Editors (Routledge, 2002), 156-174.


Th         2/28     Local Food Systems:  Cooperatives and CSAs

Reading: Maria McGrath, “That’s Capitalism, Not a Co-op”: Countercultural Idealism and Business Realism in 1970s U.S. Food

Co-ops,” Business and Economic History Online, Volume 2 (2004).

Steven McFadden, “The History of Community Supported Agriculture, Part I.” (http://newfarm.rodaleinstitute.org/features/0104/csa-history/part1.shtml)


T          3/5     Working Groups in Class meetings   


Th        3/7     No Class.


T            3/12   Framing your Research Paper    

Coop Papers Due in Class.   

Reading: Patrick Rael, “Research Papers” and “How to Ask Good Questions”


W            3/13    A Tale For The Time Being. A reading by Ruth Ozeki, author of My Year of Meats.

Advance registration to ensure seating. Events require either the purchase of the featured book or a $5 event ticket. For more information: www.odysseybks.com. 7:00pm at the Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College Street, South Hadley, MA

Th        3/14     Meet at Library, Special Collections


T             3/19        Spring Break – No Class 

Th        3/21        Spring Break – No Class     


T          3/26    Research Proposals Due by email at 5pm.


Th          3/28    Individual Appointments to Discuss Proposals


T            4/2       Individual Appointments to Discuss Proposals

Th          4/4        Individual Appointments to Discuss Proposals


             4/9        How to Offer Useful Peer Evaluation. 

Rough Drafts Due in Class. 


Th           4/11                     Peer Evaluation Workshop

                                    Peer Evaluations Due in Class.

                                    Reading: Patrick Rael, “Peer Evaluation”


T          4/16    Final Paper Presentations    

Th           4/18    Final Paper Presentations


             4/23    Final Paper Presentations

Th          4/25    Final Paper Presentations


T            4/30    Final Paper Presentations. 

                                    Final Drafts of Research Papers Due in Class.






Culinary Archives and Museum from the Johnson &      Wales University



Cook Book Collections Online

Michigan State, Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project



                  Online Culinary History Network



Food History Bibliography

                  Library of Congress, Food History Bibliography with some links



Home Economics

Cornell University Home Economics Collection



Library of Congress Online




                  Proquest Historic Newspaper Database  (select databases to search)




                  Food Timeline


                                    Food History Index


                                                      Food History Resources



US Department of Agriculture


                  National Agricultural Library





             Food Inc, 2008. Documentary: effects of commercial agriculture (http://www.takepart.com/foodinc)

Monstanto’s response to Food, Inc. (http://www.monsanto.com/foodinc/)

             Food Matters, 2008. Documentary: Relationship between food and pharmaceuticals (http://www.foodmatters.tv)

             Food Stamped, 2010.  Documentary: A couple tries to eat healthy on a food stamp budget for one week. (http://www.foodstamped.com)

             Forks over Knives, 2010. Documentary: Linking food and illnesses (http://www.forksoverknives.com)

             Fresh, 2009. Documentary: grassroots efforts to provide fresh foods (http://www.freshthemovie.com)

             Harvest of Shame, 1960. News Feature: Edward R. Murrow's documentary on the American farmworker (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJTVF_dya7E)

             Ingredients: The Local Food Movement Takes Root, 2009. Documentary: the rise of local food movement (http://www.ingredientsfilm.com)

             King Corn, 2007. Documentary: tracking one acre of Iowa corn (http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/kingcorn/film.html)

             Soul Food Junkies, 2012. Documentary: African American cuisine and its health consequences (http://video.pbs.org/video/2305721338/)

             Super Size Me, 2004. Documentary: fast food consumption (http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/super_size_me)

             The Garden, 2008. Documentary: Attempts to destroy urban garden (http://www.thegardenmovie.com)

             The Future of Food, 2004. Documentary: Anti-GMO foods (http://www.thefutureoffood.com)

             The Real Dirt on Farmer John, 2006.  A farmer turns his family’s dying farm into a thriving CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). (http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/realdirt/film.html)

             We Feed the World, 2005. Documentary: Globalization of food production