• The Three Gorges Dam

    Evan Fraser, Andrew Rimas
    Tom Durwood (see profile)
    Food, Ecology
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    Online publication
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    In their ambitious book Empires of Food, authors Evan D.G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas take on a huge topic: the cause-and-effect relationship between food systems, societies and governments or, as they phrase it in the book’s subtitle, “feast, famine and the rise and fall of civilizations.” This is historical context as well as advice for college students, who have only a vague idea of where food comes from. One valuable aspect of their writing is the ease with which they move from science to sociology to history to commerce. In a series of specific episodes, they show how the management of food production has both empowered and doomed empires. A second attribute of this work is its present-mindedness, not so much a warning as an explanation of what is happening today in the taxed-to-the-limits global food network, and what is likely to happen tomorrow. I find that few class assignments gain traction with my cadets unless I can show that it can contribute to their immediate well-being and future prospects, both career and happiness. The topic of food certainly grabs their attention; this is information that our students need as they make decisions about the food they eat. For me, food is a rich classroom topic to teach because it is so immediate. What you had for lunch (and where it came from), working in a restaurant (every class has students with vivid experiences of this), articles on health care, obesity studies, students’ eating habits, differences in families and what they cook, films like Fast Food Nation – there are so many solid critical thinking and writing assignments which can connect to this one.
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    5 years ago
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