Delocalized Diets: Globalization, Food, and Culture
This assignment asks students to examine diets which have become delocalized as cultural groups have become less reliant upon their own local food production systems, and have instead come to rely upon food items grown and processed far from where a cultural group resides. This assignment addresses cultural sustainability by asking students to go beyond distinguishing between five subsistence strategies to examining the impact of globalization on diet and culture due to changes in traditional subsistence strategies, particularly in relation to what people eat and how they acquire their food.
This assignment addresses cultural sustainability by asking students to go beyond distinguishing between five subsistence strategies (a disciplinary "big idea") to examining the impact of globalization on diet and culture (a sustainability "bid idea") due to changes in traditional subsistence strategies, particularly in relation to what people eat and how they acquire their food.
Context for Use
Possible Use in Other Courses
This assignment could be modified for use beyond the introductory cultural anthropology course, to examine the impact of contemporary food production in courses that address history, health and wellness, and globalization. It could be completed in as little as one week to as long as several weeks, depending upon the overall course objectives. For an introductory anthropology course, it could be introduced early in the quarter and completed about two-thirds of the way into the quarter.
Description and Teaching Materials
(For further details, please see the assignment description and evaluation criteria below.)
The Learning ActivitiesThe following sequence of teaching-and-learning activities was used to lead up to the assignment:
- Classroom lecture: subsistence strategies
- Classroom activity: students are given seven cultural examples with which they are to practice identifying subsistence strategies, the division of labor, the production of cash crops, and technology required for each subsistence strategy
- First small group discussion of assigned readings:
- Articles about subsistence and ecology (Spradley and McCurdy, 2006)
- Article about colonialism (Lapp King Corn" (Cheney and Ellis, 2008)
- Second small group discussion of assigned reading:
- Transcript of Amy Goodman interview of Michael Pollan about nutrition and the U.S. American diet (Goodman, 2008)
- Review "Delocalized Diets" assignment description and create five teams, one for each subsistence strategy
- Class members meet with librarian (during one class meeting) to identify possible sources and research strategies
- Student teams assemble posters during two class meetings
- Teams present posters to student audience, then post in classroom and each team members submits an annotated bibliography
Assignment Description (Microsoft Word 30kB Oct25 11)
Evaluation Criteria and Standards (Microsoft Word 51kB Oct25 11)
Peer Evaluation for Teamwork (Microsoft Word 38kB Oct25 11)
Teaching Notes and Tips
Another issue that emerged is that first and second year college students need to learn skills of scholarship, such as how to create a poster, how to write APA citations, how to write annotated bibliographic entries, and how to work in teams. I did integrate some instruction related to developing these skills into classroom instruction, but I expect that students would benefit from having instruction sheets with examples, particularly in relation to creating academic posters and writing annotated bibliographic entries. I also plan to create a working archive of assignments from previous quarters that will help illustrate the kind (and quality) of coursework expected.
Finally, I realized as the project was underway, that it only partially addressed our own bioregion. In the future I might focus exclusively on delocalized diets as they relate to the Puget Sound region. Or, I could shift the local focus to include things other than food; for example, timber or other products that would illustrate the life cycle of a product (after watching "The Story of Stuff" (Priggen and Leonard, 2008), or after reading Stuff (Ryan and Durning, 1997), and/or after watching "Buyer Be Fair" (Jindrova and De Graff, 2006); this could facilitate a productive discussion about the cradle-to-cradle movement.
The assignment as it is currently conceived could be modified so that students examine not only dietary changes, but also how the dietary changes have impacted the overall health of local consumers. The assignment could be extended to also examine the socioeconomic relationships that exist (or not) between local food producers and consumers, as well as the possible impacts upon the local physical environment.
The assignment could be readily adapted to online instruction: online sources and examples could be posted and small group threaded discussions could be set up for the team work. Rather than creating posters, students could create PowerPoint presentations to post on the course web site for their classmates.
References and Resources
Goodman, A. (2008, February 13). "In defense of food: author, journalist Michael Pollan on nutrition, food science and the American diet." [Interview Transcript]. Retrieved February 14, 2008, from Democracy Now! Web site: http://www.democracynow.org/2008/2/13/in_defense_of_food_author_journalist.
Jindrova, H. (Producer), & De Graff, J. (Director). (2006) "Buyer be fair: The promise of product certification". [Videodisc] Oley, PA: Bullfrog Films.
Lapp. "The Story of Stuff". [Videodisc] Berkeley: Free Range Studios
Ryan, J., and Durning, A. (1997). Stuff: The Secret Lives of Everyday Things. Seattle: Northwest Environment Watch.
Spradley, J., and McCurdy, D. (2006) Conformity and Conflict: Readings in Cultural Anthropology, 12/e, pp. 102 - 141. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.