Eating food is critical to everyday life, and yet many have the luxury to treat daily sustenance as an afterthought. For some, the connections between food and the larger environmental and social systems that sustain human life are largely invisible. This experiential course explores these interactions through an extensive and intensive investigation of the Northwest food system from farm to fork. For three weeks, the course travels among the campuses of Whitman College, the University of Puget Sound, and Willamette University, tracing the themes of soil, labor, and money across the Northwest foodscape. Beginning at Whitman, students focus on the political economy of the food system, training a global lens on the industrial wheat farms, chicken processing plants, and large-scale dairy operations of the Walla Walla Valley. At the University of Puget Sound, the focus shifts to urban agriculture and food justice, tracing the three themes through questions of poverty and access to food, urban planning, and the challenges of growing food in the city of Tacoma. Finally, the course concludes at Willamette where students will live and work at Zena Forest and Farm, putting the methods of sustainable agriculture into practice and exploring the opportunities and obstacles associated with smaller-scale organic agriculture in the Willamette Valley.
Crosslisted as IPE/ENVR 360.