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Marketing & Sustainable Business
Fall 2021 Semester Florence

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Course Overview

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The Business of Food

The Business of Food Course Overview

OVERVIEW

CEA Partner Institution: CEA Florence Center
Location: Florence, Italy
Primary Subject Area: Business
Other Subject Area: Health Sciences, Political Science, Sociology, Env. Sciences, Global Studies
Instruction in: English
Course Code: BUS353
Course Details: Level 300
Recommended Semester Credits: 3
Contact Hours: 45
Prerequisites: Introductory courses in any of the course subject areas
Additional Fee: $130.00
Additional Fee Description:This course requires payment of an additional fee to cover active learning components that are above and beyond typical course costs, such as site visits, entrance fees and other expenses.

DESCRIPTION

Beginning with a short history of food globalization, a concept born of colonization but which has equally dark political implications today, this interdisciplinary course explores how contemporary production and consumption of world-sourced foods challenges the diet, nutrition, and health of world populations, requiring us to re-evaluate the local food choices we make as well as the ethical basis we use to make them. The notion of cheap food (so sophomorically captured by school cafeteria food fights of the 20th century) is at an end and food scarcity is now a reality, as the 2009 food riots from east to west sadly attest. To appreciate the complex global forces at work leading to today's food wars, you investigate how agro-industrial engineering and lobbying, food marketing and advertising, and governmental regulatory and aid policy all determine who eats what and who goes hungry.

You will explore today's food supply chain from farmer to plate, discovering the hard realities of contemporary "nutrition"; how food is produced; the effect agricultural practices have on the environment as well as on human and animal health; how global supermarkets affect food choice and freshness; why cultures react differently to GMO foods; and what consequences result from concentrating food in the hands of a few large industrialists (e.g. Nestle, Kraft, Coca Cola, Unilever, etc.) You will also analyze public reaction to food scares (salmonella, BSE, infected poultry, etc.) and the consequent rise of both organic foods and the movement towards farmer's markets, local produce and seasonal eating.

You will identify and evaluate the critical role technology plays in food production. The heated GMO debate in Europe, where consumers are highly sceptical if not downright terrified, contrasts sharply with US shoppers who either take them for granted or who remain oblivious to their presence. What cultural reasons account for this? Are nutraceutical and functional foods a fad or a biological necessity? Through cross-cultural comparisons and country reports, you will analyze impassioned debates about how much technology should be allowed onto our plates.

The social ills of global food chains will be an important issue for you to diagnose as well. On one hand, starvation, malnutrition, food subsidies and their attendant deleterious effects on developing countries is a common reality. On the other, anorexia amidst plenty and bulimia and obesity in global epidemic proportions characterize entire national populations. You will consider the extent to which these pathologies reflect our troubled relationship with food and the nutritional conflicts it provokes.

Through focused research and personal exploration--each supported by onsite investigation of local food market cultures, agro-industry practices, and consumer nutritional behaviour--you will learn that the business, politics & ethics of eating are more complex, more culturally contingent, and more deadly than we once thought.

Previously titled as Food Fight! The Business, Politics & Ethics of Eating
Course cross-listed as SOC313

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