This two-course connection links the FSEM 101 course, The Rituals of Dinner, or ANTH 210, which is required, to one course in the sciences. The anthropology course covers such topics as how culture shapes taste and cuisine, how different forms of food production affect social structure and nutrition, and the political factors that cause famine and food shortage. Currently, the course has substantial units on eating disorders and the causes and consequences of malnutrition, as well as on food safety and the controversies around genetically modified food. It has several components that interface with and complement components of each of the science courses as well as an extensive service learning component.
BIO 105 contains substantial units on weight control and eating disorders and on critical issues in nutrition, such as the world food supply and the influence of advertising. Biology students will gain in-depth perspectives on the cultural aspects of food availability, food choice and eating customs. Anthropology students will appreciate the biological parameters underlying the contribution of nutrients to health and disease.
BIO 262 features a survey of the plant kingdom and a study of plant anatomy. Students learn the distinguishing features of each plant phylum and of selected families of flowering plants, the evolutionary features of each group, the ecology of each group, and how plants from these groups are utilized by human societies. The course looks especially at plants that are important in the lives of students, as sources of food, beverages, medicines, industrial products and as objects of aesthetic beauty. Complementary to the service learning component of ANTH 210, students enrolled in Plant Biology go out into the field of the supermarket, the Harvard Botanical Museum and the cranberry bog.
CHEM 109 will most clearly connect in two arenas: the function of micronutrients and the potential and problems of genetically modified foods. The Edible Chemicals course focuses specifically on the chemical components of food; the constituents of food, their chemical structures, functional properties and their interactions. A laboratory component of the course examines not only the chemical characteristics of proteins, carbohydrates, fats and micronutrients, but also their behavior together, in cooking and in digestion. A separate section of the course focuses on genetically modified foods, their potential and problems and the reality of their presence on our supermarket shelves.