Hi, friends! I have a confession to make – during the last couple of weeks I have been enjoying a fascinating learning resource from which my understanding of food issues has benefited immensely and it just struck me that I hadn’t yet shared it on my blog! Now this is well worth a separate post and not just a line in the Resources section as this is indeed a golden mine of knowledge and expertise on all kinds of food-related topics provided by the most prominent academics, scientists, activists, farmers, journalists many of whom have been building their understanding of global food environment and issues around it for almost as long as I live. Now if that is not a sufficiently appetising teaser, I should probably add that the recourse is also much fun plus free and accessible to anyone. So this is a series of talks and lectures which are part of a course called Edible Education, designed and led at the University of California, Berkeley. The educational course itself is partially funded by the Edible Schoolyard Project whose mission is to “train educators to create powerful and sustainable edible education programs in their schools and communities”. The fact that the course is co-designed by Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and a well-known environmental journalist, alone tells you something about the quality of this learning resource and its educational potential.
The Edible Schoolyard project has got its own Youtube channel you can (and are highly encouraged!) subscribe to. There are already dozens of fascinating talks and lectures on various food matters, such as sustainable agriculture, genetic modification, biodiversity, nutrition and public health, race and gender issues in relation to food, food culture – you can see that the array of topics is vast and it only remains to mention the names of Wendell Berry, Marion Nestle, Eric Schlosser, Paul Rozin as some of the project’s guest lecturers to ensure you immediately subscribe to the channel and start enjoying the materials. To give you some more flavour of what kind of issues are at the focused this educational project I’ll do a really brief overview of some lectures I found particularly engaging. To begin with, I am absolutely in love with Raj Patel, who has been the project’s guest more than once and has given an amazingly insightful lecture about the origins of contemporary food insecurity and poverty as rooted in the logics of western food policies of the post-war period which sought to save the world from the menace of Red Revolution by forcing developing countries to adopt the “Green” way. Listen to the talk if you want to learn more about what these policies have turned into and what challenges the humanity is currently facing as a consequence (Raj’s reflections on the role and world-changing potential of women’s education are truly fantastic!)
The next talk I want to mention here is a lecture by Paul Rozin on the Psychology of Food – if you want to know more about the role of food in human life from the psychological perspective and uncover deeply hidden motives underlying our food choices, eating behaviors, attitudes to food and cultural differences in those – this is a talk to start with. Besides being a terrific academic, Paul Rozin has an added benefit of being a fascinating speaker and his very unconventional way of talking and acting makes the video not only a highly informative , but a genuinely entertaining learning material. I could go on with the list of my favorite videos on the channel but I’ll leave the pleasure to you and will only mention one more lecture, which is my absolute favorite and the one that is worth re-listening for as long as you live (no matter whether you are concerned with food and eating matters or whether any of those remain on the humanity agenda) just to remind yourself about some eternal, truly universal values and real meaning of a human life on Earth. This is a talk by a theater director Peter Sellars, whose involvement in food movement is that of an amateur, but who’ll leave you feeling awakened, eye-opened and mindset-changed with his talk on the place and role of each and every human being within the universe, our infinite potential for change and inexhaustible resources of power, will, love and reciprocity we carry within ourselves. He reminds us of deeper meaning of food, he reminds us that an act of eating is an act of giving and sharing, of care and love – something we do not have time to remind ourselves about. He may at times sound too abstract and idealistic, but I think this is exactly what is amiss from our rigidly–structured and tightly-scheduled everyday lives we are ceaselessly trying to fill with “utility” while ignoring more intangible things – the ones which make our live worth living.
I hope you’ll find the project and the lectures as fascinating and knowledge-dense as I have – will aim to get more of this kind of learning resources to kindle your interest in food issues and keep it burning!