III. Stuffed & Starved: The Ethics of Eating, the Politics of Food, and the Global Struggle for Survival

malnutrition, obesity, poverty, hunger, food, global, politics, ethics, diet, nutrition

Wed, Oct 8, 7-8pm, Honors Salon, 5 minute walk from campus

  • Please email Wolfgang for address & directions

Civilization and anarchy are only seven meals apart. (Spanish proverb)

Some key questions / problems / predicaments & potential answers / solutions / coping strategies

  • We are what we eat, physically and biologically. Are we also what we eat, psychologically, ethically & politically?
  • How is your diet and nutrition intimately connected to some of the key global challenges today?
  • Why do Americans eat by far the most meat in the world, about 270 pounds /120 kg per person per year = 0.73 pounds per day?
  • Why are there more overweight than hungry people in the world today for the first time in history?
  • Why do both hunger and obesity significantly have malnutrition and poverty in common?
  • How are we going to feed 9 billion people by 2050 and perhaps 11 billion by 2100 given plateauing yields, growing resource and environmental constraints, and escalating conflicts?
  • How does the global food system work? Who benefits and who pays the price?
  • How sustainable/resilient are local, national, regional, and global food systems, and how can we strengthen them, given what is in store for us in the 21st century?


Some references

Barnard, Neal 2004. Breaking the Food Seduction: The Hidden Reasons Behind Food Cravings – And 7 Steps to End Them Naturally

Brown, Lester 2012. Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity

Cribb, Julian 2010. The Coming Famine: The Global Food Crisis and What We Can Do to Avoid It

Kenner, Robert 2008. Food, Inc. (documentary)

Kessler, David 2009. The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite

Lagi, M. et al 2011. The Food Crises and Political Instability in North Africa and the Middle East

Moss, Michael 2013. Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

Ogle, Maureen 2013. In Meat We Trust: An Unexpected History of Carnivore America

Patel, Raj 2012. Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)

Schlosser, Eric 2001. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

Singer, Peter & Jim Mason 2007. The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter

Spurlock, Morgan 2004. Super Size Me (documentary)

Tuttle, Will 2008. The World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony


Spring 2015 course: HON PS 450 / ICSR 301: Global Food Politics, Thursday, 5-8.15pm

  • both HON and non-HON sections available

As world population and food demand grow exponentially, and resources become more scarce and environmental constraints tighten, food prices rise, security declines, and conflicts escalate. Will the global food system be able to produce enough food in the future and what are viable alternatives? And why are there more overweight than hungry people in the world today?

“Civilization and anarchy are only seven meals apart” (Spanish proverb). Why are there more overweight than hungry people in the world today? Are these unrelated problems or could they be two sides of the same coin, two extremes on the same continuum of the global food system? This is the guiding question that we will explore in this transdisciplinary and applied course.

World population is projected to grow from more than 7 billion today to at least 9 billion by mid-century and perhaps as many as 11 billion by the end of the century. How are we going to feed all these people? “Just” to feed the additional two billion people by 2050, we would need to double food production from current levels since global diets become increasingly resource-intensive as a consequence of economic development.

Yet this is precisely one of the key challenges, as growing resource and environmental constraints make increases in yields and food production ever harder to achieve. As demand for food increases at the same time as supply stagnates or even declines in more and more regions of the world, political instability and conflicts tend to grow – how best to respond?

At the same time as the orientation of this course is very global and conceptual, it also very local and personal, as food is what connects us most directly with the rest of the world every day. The resource demands and health, environmental, and resource impacts of different diets vary significantly. We will explore the re-emergence of local food systems, here in Bowling Green, around the country and around the world, and assess their viability as a response to the global challenges outlined above.

Key words: conflict, environment, food, food security, global governance, political instability, resilience, resources, sustainability


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