An Interesting Class to Take For Your American Cultures Requirement

Do you have an interest in food and sustainability? Well, look no further. Food, Culture, and the Environment AC is the class for you. Yes, I realize I sound like an attempt to sell something. But, honestly, it was one of the most eye-opening classes that I have taken since coming to Berkeley. 

During the last school year, I had made so many plans for the summer. One of those things was taking summer courses while working as a UC Ambassador. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, I was unable to work on campus anymore, but I could still take summer courses online. By the middle of Spring 2020, I had decided that I wanted to get rid of the American Cultures (AC) course requirement by the university. The name “American Cultures” never really came across as something that was going to be interesting. Rather, it seemed more of a chore to take. So, I had no idea how much I would enjoy Food, Culture, and the Environment AC.

I chose Food, Culture, and the Environment AC for 2 reasons: 1. AC requirement. 2. It’s an online course.

To explain some more, this class was already made as a completely online course even before COVID 19 became rampant. This means that everything was already set up to be done online. No troubleshooting necessary. Course content is released every week along with all the assignments and quizzes for that week. Everything was organized and clear. I am not going to lie, it was hard to go back into school again during the summer in an online environment, but this class made the transition easy.

Now the moment you have all been waiting for. What is this class even about and why do I love it?

Imagine learning about food and its composition like a nutrition class. Except, this is not the focus of the class. Now take food and put it under the lens of history and social justice. It was more than just food and nutrition. It was about the flaws in the food industry. Why is it that we have to pay more for more nutrition? Why is our diet today so much worse for us than our ancestors? How does the microbiome come into play? How is food used to exacerbate prejudice against people of color? What does it mean to be food insecure? Did you know that tipping is a remnant of slavery? How is cultural appropriation addressed in the food world? And so much more.

I learned so much about the world through the history of nutrition and how it led us here. It was awe-inspiring to learn and think about how people are trying to make the food industry healthier and more equitable for people everywhere. It was about food, but it was also about people and how they are affected by food. This is definitely one of those classes that pushed me to think more critically about the many different ways in which I can help the world and food can be just one part of that.