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Food: You Are What You Eat - From Paleo-Diet to Pizzas and The Biology of Our Food

Course registration will be available for this course once it is scheduled.

Course Description

Food is critical to life, if we don't eat we will quickly die. Food provides the energy required to sustain life and humans have evolved and optimized the biochemical pathways to efficiently digest a diverse variety of food. Over time humans also learned to efficiently grow, prepare, store and trade their food and this allowed humans to expand their habitat considerably. This class will explore the biology of food and its effects on human society from early human existence to modern days.

If we don't eat we die and most of us like food in one form or another. Food comforts us, it gives us pleasure, and over food we can bond and build friendships and community.
In this course we will learn to use scientific information to look at food from a range of different perspectives. We will look at food pyramids and gain an understanding of the biochemical processes in nature which eventually produce the food we eat, and what our body does with the food we eat. The class will analyze the relationship between food and physical activity and investigate the role food plays in health and disease. We will investigate the components of a healthy diet and compare our modern diet to the human diet throughout history and different cultures. We will learn about the meaning of food throughout human evolution and how food has been seen throughout human history. We will look at food production, security, sustainability, how food or the lack of food has been a driver for human migration, conflict, habitat expansion and adaptation to extreme environments.
Our approach will be a combination of lectures, literature-based class discussions and group work to gain a better understanding of food from a biological, cultural and anthropological perspective.

By the end of the course, students will:

  • have a better understanding of our food and how the human body processes it
  • understand how modern life and physical sciences can be combined with historical texts and archaeological insights to expand our knowledge of a complex and complicated subject, food, which we depend on every day
  • become familiar with and will learn to critically evaluate scientific, archaeological, and historical data
  • be able to present analysis-driven conclusions to a group of peers

Prerequisites: Students interested in his class should have a basic knowledge of biology, as well as a general interest in human history and evolution and in science in general. A laptop is strongly recommended, but is not required.