ANTH-154: Food, Culture, and Economy

Liberal Arts
Academic Level
Course Subject
Course Number
Course Title
Food, Culture, and Economy
Credit Hours
Instructor Contact Hours Per Semester
47.00 (for 15-week classes)
Student Contact Hours Per Semester
47.00 (for 15-week classes)
Grading Method
ENG-131 eligible
Catalog Course Description

Explores the interconnectedness of food, culture, and economy as an overlapping set of practices and approaches that transcend geographic boundaries. Examines the relationship between food and group identity, status, culture, gender, religion, politics, economics, class, and power using ethnographic, cross-cultural comparisons. Analyzes food traditions in the context of globalization, and looks at the political, economic, social, and cultural impact of global food system structures on the United States and the rest of the world.

Goals, Topics, and Objectives

Goal Statement

There are two underlying goals for this course: 1) introduce students to the importance and role of food in human cultures, and 2) illustrate to students how they are situated food consumers.Students will develop familiarity with the cross-cultural diversity of food traditions and with the common cross-cultural functions/roles of food in human cultures. In addition, students will apply the information and concepts used in the course to their own lives and develop a working knowledge of their own food traditions and of the food systems that contextualize their own food choices and alternatives.

Core Course Topics
  1. Key analytical concepts
  2. History of food production
  3. Functions of food in culture and society
  4. Cross-cultural variation in food traditions

    a. Ethnicity/Identity/Solidarity
    b. Social organization/Kinship
    c. Religion/symbolism
    d. Gender Identity/Relations
    e. Power/Domination/Class
    f. Diet/Health/Nutrition
    g. Culture change

  5. Food in/and the US
  6. Food/traditions in the US
  7. Global and local food systems
Core Course Learning Objectives (Separated)
  1. Describe and apply basic anthropological/sociological concepts involved in the analysis of society and culture generally, and those required to study food in a cultural context.
  2. Illustrate the cross-cultural diversity of food traditions using specific ethnographic examples, and categorize that diversity within the range of human subsistence practices (cross-culturally and in terms of human history).
  3. Organize the common roles/functions of food in human cultures and societies.
  4. Apply any particular culture’s/society's food traditions and practices to other aspects of that culture (a holistic understanding of food) including environment, subsistence practices, religion, social organization, etc.
  5. Apply the information, theoretical and empirical, covered in the course; and illustrate the students' own food traditions in relation to aspects of their culture, including the commodity chains, global food systems, and markets that characterize US food production, distribution, and consumption.
  6. Categorize the variation of food traditions in human cultures through the cross-culturally similar functions and uses of food in human culture. **
  7. Compare and contrast the social, economic, and cultural components of subsistence, market-based, and industrialized food production/distribution systems; and evaluate the relative benefits and drawbacks of each.**
  8. Assess one's own food cultures/traditions by describing how our food choices are embedded (or not) in larger regional and national patterns of production, distribution, and consumption. **

**meets critical thinking outcome

Assessment and Requirements

Assessment of Academic Achievement

Assessment of academic achievement may include (but is not limited to) exams, quizzes, homework, and projects.

General Course Requirements and Recommendations

General course requirements are left to the discretion of individual instructors.


Choice of course readings is left to the individual instructor.


General Education Categories
  • Social Sciences
Institutional Outcomes
  • Civil Society and Culture - U.S. and Global
MTA Categories
  • Category 4: Social Sciences

Approval Dates

Effective Term
Fall 2020
ILT Approval Date
AALC Approval Date
Curriculum Committee Approval Date