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Food Studies

Website: School of Social Science and Human Services


Martha Ecker


Current as of June 2018

About the Minor

The minor in Food Studies will situate the study of the production, distribution and consumption of food in the context of social, biological and cultural analyses.  It will provide students with a foundation to prepare them for graduate studies and/or a career in the industry.  Students will have an intensive experience which will allow them to use their theoretical knowledge in practice and to provide them with opportunities for meaningful research.

Students will understand why some of the plants, animals, and microbes are chosen for our meals.  Topics include:  milk and dairy products, eggs, meat and fish, edible plant parts, candy and chocolate, wine and beer, processed food and food preservation, food safety and analysis.  The biological basis and nutritional value of foods, and changes in food molecules during food preparation will be emphasized.  The pathways of energy metabolism and the general metabolism of macro-nutrients will be studied.  Students will learn about the metabolic rate and health impact of vitamins, minerals and fiber as well as the importance of energy balance and body composition and their relationship to obesity.

Students will also gain an understanding of conventional agricultural systems and sustainable agricultural systems (agro-ecology), with an emphasis on their environmental impacts.  The needs and mechanics of growing food crops and livestock will be given.  A review of the requirements for the conversion to a sustainable farm and the necessary information needed to start a farm will be provided.

Students will develop an awareness of the meanings of food among different cultures, and explore the ways in which geographic, cultural, political, and economic forces interact to influence food preferences, health, and nutritional status.  The program will consider how gender, ethnicity, class, religion, the media, and corporate capitalism influence the manner in which we perceive, acquire, prepare, and consume food.  Moreover, the courses will examine how we, through what and how we eat and do not eat, construct relationships with our bodies, with others, with our histories, with animals, and the environment.

Students will analyze the social structures and processes that influence food production, distribution, consumption, and how each of these affect human populations in developed and developing societies.

As with other minors, the Food Studies minor is intended to complement the disciplinary specialization and methodological training inherent in a major. Students will achieve the necessary background for eventual career and graduate study opportunities.


Requirements of the Minor
  1. Students are required to take 5 courses (20 credits) to complete this minor.
  2. At least 1/2 of the courses fulfilling a minor must be distinct from the student’s major. That is, three of the five courses required for a minor cannot be used towards fulfillment of major requirements. A school core does not need to be completed for a minor. Minors are open to students regardless of school affiliation.