Want to learn more about food but not sure where to start? Here’s a list of some brilliant classes, from the classics to the hidden gems, that will feed your inner intellectual foodie. For more information and even more courses, check out the Cornell Courses of Study website.
1. For the culinary aficionado:
NS 2470 – Food for Contemporary Living (Fall and Spring every year)
This nutrition lab is a great alternative for those non-Hotelies trying to gain some experience in the culinary arts. Preference is given to dietetics and nutrition majors, but if you act quickly enough you can snag a spot of the wait list. During the 3 hour lab you learn basic cooking techniques all while applying healthy nutrition principles – and if you’re lucky you can take home what you made in class.
FDSC 1140 – Introduction to Wines and Vines (Fall and Spring every year)
Although similar to the famed Hotelie Wines class, this course incorporates more of the wine chemistry, cultivation and production processes into its curriculum. Yet, it still touches upon the history and gustatory cultures of the beverage – and yes, tastings are included.
2. For the culturally inclined:
AMST 3720 – Food, Gender, and Culture (Next offered 2015-16)
Cross-listed in the English and FGSS departments, this course examines cultural behaviors and habits surrounding the production and consumption of food and how these have affected peoples’ identities. Films and literary works are analyzed, but the class also draws from sociology, anthropology, and history.
ANTHR 2450 – The Anthropology of Food and Cuisine (Spring every year)
This class looks at food from social and cultural lenses, analyzing how food items and food habits have become symbols and social markers for peoples. These contexts are looked at both across different cultures yet also through different social strata within particular societies (from gender to class and ethnicity to religion). Using films and readings to illustrate course concepts, this class will offer a wealth of resources on the matter.
HADM 4380 – Seminar in Culture and Cuisine (Next offered Spring 2015)
By studying and comparing different cuisines from around the globe, this course will have you appreciating all kinds of international cultures (and how these are represented through their eating habits). Projects include readings and reports, but also meal planning and preparations.
NS 2470 – Social Science Perspectives on Food and Nutrition (Fall every year)
Through qualitative and survey research, students obtain information on variations behind food choices. These methods are applied to wider themes regarding cultural, historic and other social factors that impact eating habits in peoples around the world.
3. For the food activist:
DSOC 3400 – Agriculture, Food, Sustainability, and Social Justice (Fall every year)
For exposure to global food systems and a look at how (and by whom) our food is produced, this is a great intro class. You’ll learn about how international developments in the past few decades have impacted the ways in which food is distributed around the world as well as who has access to what. Topics like food security, food justice and food sovereignty are addressed – and as the title suggests, the class covers a variety of alternative food production systems that are more sustainable than the industrial systems currently in place.
ANTHR 4710 and 4712 – Cuisine, Production, and Biodiversity in Peru, parts 1 and 2 (Fall and Spring)
The first of these consecutive six-week courses looks at how culinary skills can be used as forms of empowerment and social justice in Peru, analyzing political and economic trends that have shaped the country’s food system. The second takes a more general approach and focuses on the development of the current global food system and contemporary food issues (it also includes field trips to local Ithaca producers for real-world exposure).
AEM/NS 4450 – Toward a Sustainable Global Food System: Food Policy for Developing Countries (Fall every year)
This higher-level course requires 6 credits in econ or sociology and 6 credits in nutrition or agriculture as pre-reqs, but for anyone interested in how the global agricultural system functions and the issues that arise from it – and who wants to learn how policy can be used to improve food systems – this class is bound to be worth it.
4. For the conscious eater:
ALS 1500 – Sustainability Lifestyle Practices (Fall and Spring each year)
Through engaged peer education and discussions, this class helps foster sustainable practices – in particular, how such lifestyle practices can be applied to food choice, systems and waste. Planning and social marketing skills are developed as students create their own sustainability strategies and market these to their fellow classmates.
PHIL 1440 – Ethics of Eating (Spring every year)
The class brings up moral considerations regarding animal welfare, human well-being and environmental issues. The syllabus includes a variety of readings, movies, and talks from experts in food-related fields. Since the course is in the philosophy department it will probably bring up more questions than answers, but it’s guaranteed to make you a more responsible and aware consumer.
NS 1150 – Nutrition, Health, and Society (Fall every year)
If you’re interested in learning more about the effects of food on your body (both physical and mental), this is the perfect intro class. You’ll learn about the nutrients and molecules you need to live a healthy life while being exposed to different food myths. Be prepared to look at what you’re eating in a whole new way, and maybe even change your diet. As an added feature you get to hear the professor rap about fats and carbs.
HORT 3600 – Climate Change and the Future of Food (Spring every year)
Learn about how climate change will affect food security and food production systems across the globe, and consider solution and crisis management in this horticulture class. Students are taught the basic sciences behind climate change while being trained to strengthen their own positions in the discourse on controversial issues related to the field.
5. For the student with a green thumb:
CSS 1900 – Sustainable Agriculture: Food, Farming, and the Future (Fall every year)
This class is for those who want to learn about the basics behind agroecology (the relationship between agriculture and the ecological processes that surround it), and the effects of the environment, economics and social factors on agriculture. The class includes field trips to local food production centers.
ANTHR 2201 – Early Agriculture (Next offered Spring 2015-16)
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how agriculture developed from the early hunter-gatherer societies, this is the class for you. Course topics include the spread of agriculture and domestication and its effects on societies who adopted it.
HORT 2150 – Coffee, Cloves, and Chocolate: Plant Explorers and Thieves (Spring every year)
Through the histories of various crops, this course has students consider the impact of transcontinental movement and cultivation of plants. Learn about where coffee originally comes from, participate in chocolate tastings, and work on a final project in which you research a crop of your choice and its societal influence.
And of course, there are so many others…
If you’re looking for even more, considering doing independent study or research. There’s a slew of foodie professors out there in a variety of departments, and chances are they’ll be really excited to share their interest in food with someone who is equally as passionate. You’ll get access to an abundance of written resources and will rack up some serious points for your resume. Learn on!