UC Berkeley offers a variety of courses on food-related topics — you’re bound to find one that interests you. Whether you’re interested in business, science, humanities, or anything in between, there’s a course waiting for you. So try switching up your typical schedule, and explore the importance of food in our society.

Edible Education: The Rise and Future of the Food Movement is a unique hybrid course that gives the community a peek inside the realm of the food system. It was created in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Chez Panisse Restaurant and Café back in 2011. Alice Waters, owner of the renowned restaurant and founder of The Edible Schoolyard, launched the course in collaboration with UC Berkeley in order to bring food education to the university level. Guest speakers this semester included Ricardo Salvador, Jose Oliva, Carlo Petrini, Paul Greenberg, various owners of sustainable local farms, and many more.

edible education

Photo courtesy of Terry Wild Stock Photography

A common theme throughout the course is that a food revolution is necessary: The current food system in the US is inadequate. Carlo Petrini, founder of the International Slow Food Movement, spoke vividly about the rise of industrialized fast food culture and its negative effects on the environment, including loss of biodiversity and increased food waste. Journalist and activist Raj Patel discussed the abusive relationship we have with the food system and the growing confusion about what to put in our bodies.

edible education

Photo by Luna Zhang

In addition, the course highlights individuals and companies that take the initiative to create positive change. For example, salad company sweetgreen works with local farmers to supply produce for their delicious seasonal salads. Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez, UC Berkeley alumni and co-founders of Back to the Roots, emphasize transparency and conscientiousness with their “ready to grow” and “ready to eat” products. Will Allen spreads the practice of urban farming through his company, Growing Power Inc. Changing the fast food culture is a work in progress and requires the help of both individuals working within the system and the consumers — us.

edible education

Photo by Heather Feibleman

It’s difficult to fully understand the complexities of our current food system through just a series of weekly lectures. It’s even more challenging to fit the information in a single article. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from learning more about where our food comes from and its effects on the environment around us. As consumers, we have the power to help create the food culture we want for ourselves and future generations to come. So why not start by learning more?

For more food courses offered at UC Berkeley, check out this website.

Berkeley also offers an interdisciplinary program, a minor in food systems.