CSUS 343

Community Food and Agricultural Systems

Summer 2020
Section 730, online
3.0 credit hours

Instructor: Phil Howard
Office Phone: 355-8431
Office Address: 316 Natural Resources
Office Hours: by appointment
E-mail: howardp@msu.edu

Required Text:
Where Am I Eating? A Journey Through the Global Food Economy. Kelsey Timmerman. 2013. Wiley.

Description: Food and agricultural systems. Inputs, production, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal. Industrialization, globalization and centralization of power. Community goals including ecological sustainability, social justice, economic viability and democracy.

Goals of the Course:
Investigate the paths food takes from fields to forks, both here and abroad
Explore the intersections of community, food, agriculture and the environment
Analyze dominant trends in food systems, and responses to these trends
Critically assess strategies to achieve sustainable food systems

Course Activities (100 points each, 500 points total)
* Readings, reflection and commentaries
* Reflections on presentations or field trips
* Review of book “Where Am I Eating?,” due Friday, June 5
* Review of book of your choice (or 3 films), due Friday, June 19 (select from https://creator.zoho.com/howardp/books-and-films/view-embed/CFA_books_and_films_View/ )
* Final self-evaluation, due Thursday, June 25

Grading scale for the course (by percentage of the 500 points obtained):

94 to 100% – 4.0
87 to 93% – 3.5
80 to 86% – 3.0
75 to 79% – 2.5
70 to 74% – 2.0
65 to 69% – 1.5
60 to 64% – 1.0
<60% – no credit

Grades for all assignments are viewable in the gradebook (under “course options” on left side of page in Schoology).

Late policy: if you are occasionally a few minutes past the 5pm deadlines don’t worry, no points will be deducted unless it becomes a habit. You are allowed ONE late assignment with no penalty (submitted up to one week late, but before the course ends June 25) – however, you must inform me which one you are submitting late (so that I know to go back and grade it without penalty).

I highly recommend clicking on the calendar icon in the right side of Schoology and noting all deadlines, particularly the two critical reviews and the self-evaluation (100 points each!). You will need to obtain and read your books/view films well before these deadlines (also in bold above) in order to complete them successfully.

ADVICE: Try to submit well before the deadlines if possible, there is no reason not to work as far ahead as you can – other than commenting on two other student’s posts for the readings assignments (if enough other students haven’t also submitted ahead of the deadline).


Week 1

  • Introduction to Food Systems
  • Personal Introductions
  • Why Chicken Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken Anymore. Mark Schatzker. New York Post, April 26, 2015.
  • The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food. Michael Moss. New York Times Magazine, February 20, 2013.
  • Film: King Corn
  • The Farm Bill Drove Me Insane. Marion Nestle. Politico, March 17, 2016.
  • Linux for Lettuce. Lisa M. Hamilton. VQR, Summer 2014.
  • Presentation: Consolidation in the Food System

Week 2

  • Power Steer. Michael Pollan, The New York Times Magazine, March 31, 2002.
  • The Burger That Shattered Her Life. Michael Moss. The New York Times, October 3, 2009.
  • Field Trip #1
  • Undercover in a Chicken Factory. Steve Striffler. Utne Reader, January/February 2004.
  • JBS: The Brazilian Butchers Who Took Over the World. Andrew Wasley et al. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, July 2, 2019.
  • Presentation: “Politics in Action: The Environment of Food Choice” by Marion Nestle, August 28, 2013.

Week 3

  • Food Waste of the Pandemic. David Yaffe-Bellany and Michael Corkery. New York Times, April 11, 2020.
  • Are Dairy Digesters the Renewable Energy Answer or a ‘False Solution’ to Climate Change? Gosia Wozniacka. A Greener Life, A Greener World, May 1, 2020.
  • Presentation: Alternatives to the Hourglass?
  • Product of Mexico: No Way Out. Richard Marosi. Los Angeles Times, December 10, 2014.
  • In Florida Tomato Fields, a Penny Buys Progress. Steven Greenhouse. New York Times, April 24, 2014.
  • Film: McLibel

Week 4

  • The Playbook for Poisoning the Earth. Lee Fang. The Intercept. January 18, 2020.
  • Escaping the Pesticide Trap: Non-Pesticide Management for Agricultural Pests. Gerry Marten. The EcoTipping Points Project, June 2005.
  • Field Trip #2
  • No Bar Code. Michael Pollan. Mother Jones, May/June 2006.
  • The Family Peach Farm that Became a Symbol of the Food Revolution. Dan Charles. NPR, March 14, 2015.
  • Film: A Farm for the Future
  • Critical Review of “Where Am I Eating” due.

Week 5

  • Food Co-ops Grow Up. Gail Nickel-Kailing. GoodFood World, December 9, 2010.
  • Member-Owned, Worker Run: Black Star Brewery. Stacy Edwards. Sheepless, August 4, 2011.
  • Field Trip #3
  • Flour Power. Liz Carlisle. Yes! Magazine, Winter 2020.
  • Building the Mecca of Heritage Poultry in Kansas. Twilight Greenaway. Civil Eats, August 23, 2018.
  • Presentation: Emerging Ecolabels

Week 6

  • Portland’s Food Truck Heaven. Abby Quillen. Yes! Magazine, January 17, 2014.
  • Follow the Vegetable Box. Vivian Winterhoff. December 18, 2014.
  • Presentation: Carolyn Steel. March 30, 2016.
  • This City Made Access to Food a Right of Citizenship. Frances Moore Lappe. Yes!, January 29, 2019.
  • Incredible Edible. Yorkshire Town’s Food-Growing Scheme Takes Root Worldwide. Naomi Larsson. The Guardian, May 9, 2018.
  • Presentation: Slow Food
  • Critical Reflection of 1 book or 3 films due (select from this database)

Week 7

  • A Side of Grasshoppers. Eric Gomez. ESPN, April 13, 2018.
  • Inside Lab-Grown Meat Start-Ups. Olga Khazan. The Atlantic, April 29, 2019.
  • Field Trip #4
  • The War on Milk. Emily Sohn. Thirty Two Magazine, January 31, 2013.
  • The Secret Resistance Behind the World’s Most Dangerous Cheese. Mark Hay. The Outline, March 31, 2020.

Final Exam

  • Self-Evaluation