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Cover Hungry for Change front onlyLast semester the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois (which has been offering NWEI courses since 2008) offered Northwest Earth Institute’s Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics and Sustainability course to a diverse group of students and staff. Rory Klick, Assistant Professor of Horticulture and Department Chair, taught the course and had great things to say about the ongoing collaboration between College of Lake County and the Northwest Earth Institute. “The new curriculum was great,” said Rory. “The students loved the readings, and we had some wonderful discussions.  I ran the course as a half-semester class for 8 weeks (2 hours each week so 1 credit hour), and we added a field trip to a local organic farm and then did our final exam as a “sustainable food potluck” in addition to the 6 units of the workbook.”

The course had a mix of traditional students, four staff members and two instructors from the College’s culinary program as well as a Philosophy professor. “It was a great mix of folks,” she says. “The articles really captured people…For example, the article about inhumane treatment of tomato picking laborers in Florida really got to my students; some were ready to go down there themselves!  The class session turned into an incredible discussion about labor practices for migrant workers in the US, and what we do or don’t want to acknowledge about how our produce got to our tables…As I teacher I know that these are the sparks I want to set alight in my students.  The NWEI curriculum helped provide the tinder to foster those sparks.”

Professor Klick plans on offering another round of Hungry for Change this Fall and plans on reaching out to the culinary program instructors to see if they would like to co-list the course for their students.

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This semester students at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan are taking a Food Quest course led by Professor Tara Deubel. One of Professor Deubel’s key texts is the Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics and Sustainability course book from the Northwest Earth Institute. Read below for excerpts from an article just published about the students’ learning process:

In all its capacities, food has long played a role in human social and cultural systems. The consumption and preparation of food defines nations, unites traditions, builds families. And as the world has continued to develop and change, so too does the food industry and various food-philosophy movements.

The Food Quest, an anthropology course at Oakland University explores the ways in which humans produce, consume and relate to food in a global, cross-cultural perspective.

“Understanding the human relationship to food illuminates the relationship we have with our larger environment,” said Tara Deubel, Ph.D., assistant professor of anthropology. “From a global perspective, we need to address why people continue to die of hunger and malnutrition in 2012 when adequate food resources exist.”

“Locally, we need to ask similar questions about why many residents of Detroit are unable to access healthy food on a daily basis in an area now considered to be a “food desert” due to its lack of food resources,” Dr. Deubel continued. “It is critical to re-examine the local and global systems we have put in place and advocate more sustainable alternatives that encourage smaller-scale, local food production and more healthy eating habits.”

The course covers a wide range of topics including changes in human eating patterns, the globalization of the food industry, transnational food politics, debates concerning genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the organic and local food movements, malnutrition and hunger in developing countries, food rituals and eating disorders…

As they learn about the local and global impact of the food industry, several students have developed passions for the local and organic food movements.

“I would like to see the concept of urban gardening spread throughout Detroit and for more people to get involved and to start eating real food, not processed food from the gas stations and little grocers,” said Katherine VanBelle, a senior student majoring in Environmental Sciences. “I found it sad to hear that some city kids think food comes from a gas station. I feel that it’s reasons like this that make us one of the unhealthiest cities in America.”

For the full article, click here.

This week brings a fourth post from Eleanor Baron’s Nourishing Words Blog out of Concord, New Hampshire, where a group is participating in NWEI’s Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics and Sustainability discussion course. This post addresses Session Four of the course: Just Food, where articles deal with food’s complicated world of ethics and justice.

It’s easy to turn our attention away from the disturbing, messy and sometimes horrific side of food production. We protect ourselves from this perspective; the industry protects us as well. Indeed, it would seem to be in everybody’s best interest not to talk about these things. We wouldn’t upset one another, and we wouldn’t have to face difficult decisions.

How animals are treated, the working conditions of many agricultural workers, forced labor and paltry wages are all topics not often covered by mainstream media. Due to powerful lobbies, even our politicians seem not to care. The fact that those winter tomatoes northerners so innocently buy at the grocery store are possibly the product of human slavery in Florida—that’s information that would shock most people, if they took the initiative to dig a little deeper into the story of their food.

This course does just that. It urges us to dig deeper, consider more thoughtfully and discuss more actively the stories our food can tell us. More importantly, it asks us each week what we are going to do to change those stories. Northwest Earth Institute courses are all about personal action. Reading is the first step on the path to action; discussion is the critical second step. Hearing my thoughts spoken out loud, and considering the thoughts of others, makes me realize each week how important it is to do something. Whether it’s the simple personal act of not buying something, now that we know its story, or a more public act like picketing or taking political action—it’s all important work.

Each of us has power to create change. (*Please click here to follow Eleanor’s blog and to read the full post).

 

After much deliberation, our new six-session food systems course has a title! The curriculum team is busy putting on the finishing touches and in the next few weeks, Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics and Sustainability will be rolling off the presses. Hungry for Change is the perfect course for those of us who know that our eating choices are important, but want to delve deeper into the intricacies of our food system.

From climate change to the rights of Florida tomato farmers to the global geopolitics of food, Hungry for Change examines how the availability of food and its production, distribution and consumption are the workings of a deeply complex system that is affected by and affects all of us. Some have wondered the differences between Hungry for Change and our other food course, Menu for the Future. On these differences, Curriculum Director Lacy Cagle writes:

“Whereas Menu puts the focus on the “you” in our relationships and roles in food systems, Hungry puts the focus on the systems. We really wanted to emphasize the complicated interconnections among politics, health, social justice, ethics, and environmental impact in food systems, while still looking at how we contribute to and what we can do to change these systems.

There’s also a difference in the writing styles selected. While more of the readings in Menu are narratives and stories (i.e. authors like Barbara Kingsolver and Wendell Berry), more of the readings in Hungry for Change are a bit denser and expository (i.e. authors like Lester Brown, Daniel Pauly and Marion Nestle).”

Hungry for Change also includes Action Plans, a great way to help participants commit to lasting change. From podcasts to interactive websites, our new course provides excellent additional resources for those who are Hungry for more. Check out the Hungry for Change flyer here! You can expect a late September arrival – stay tuned for more details!

For more information or to pre-order a copy of the book, you may call our office at 503.227.2807 and speak with any member of the outreach team.

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