University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

How We Talk about Feeding the World

A Minnesota Futures Symposium

March 3-5, 2011

Organized as part of the University Symposium on Abundance and Scarcity in collaboration with the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Science and the College of Liberal Arts

The goal of this symposium is to build on frameworks for discussing the complex and often contentious issues that challenge interdisciplinary attempts to talk about food politics.

In five panels and a series of discussions, we will consider the stumbling blocks and dead-ends that hamper rapprochement between different approaches to food and feeding. We are particularly interested in considering the implications of the global-scale imperative often associated with American agriculture: feeding the world.

• Registration

• Schedule

• Participants



Thursday’s lecture and panel discussions on Friday are free and open to the public. Registration is required for lunch on Friday and for attending the Saturday session, which includes brunch. Registration deadline is Thursday, February 24.  You may register via email at or via phone at 612-626-5054.  Please specify which meals you are registering for, and whether you need a vegetarian option.


Thursday, March 3, 125 Nolte Center

Panel discussion as part of IAS Thursdays at Four Series:

A Short History of Feeding the World: American Universities and the Changing Discourses of Food

This roundtable discussion investigates how universities have come to be invested in “feeding the world.” That includes talking about the origins of agricultural schools, the creation of the land grant university, more recent investments in the green revolution, and the institutional flowering of departments and programs associated with feeding and food. How have universities come to be so invested in the notion of feeding the world and what is the legacy of that investment? (Audio download – 58.7 MB)

Question and Answer Session

Moderator: Ann Waltner (Director, IAS, University of Minnesota)

Panelists: Richard Wilk (Anthropology and Gender Studies, Indiana University), Clare Hinrichs (Rural Sociology, Pennsylvania State University), and Maggi Adamek (Terra Soma Consulting Services)

Friday, March 4, 125 Nolte Center

8:30–11:30 am


“Making Food: The Work of Turning Commodities into Meals

This panel looks at issues of production, cuisine, and gendered labor within the household, as well as the industrialization of the food industry. (Audio download – 44.0 MB)

Question and Answer Session

Facilitator: Tracey Deutsch (History, University of Minnesota)

Panelists: Psyche Williams-Forson (University of Maryland), Kim Robien (Epidemiology and Community Health, U of M), Steve Striffler (Latin American Studies, University of New Orleans)

Listener: Elton Mykerezi (Applied Economics, U of M)

11:30 am-12:30 pm – Lunch (Registration is required by Thursday, February 24. Contact or 612-626-5054)

12:45-2:15 pm

Designing Foodsheds: Ways of Thinking and Talking About Producing Food

This panel builds conversations among people who are involved in food improvement movements. (Audio download – 58.5 MB)

Question and Answer Session

Facilitator: Maggi Adamek (Terra Soma Consulting Services)

Panelists: Don Wyse (Agronomy and Plant Genetics, U of M), Erin Meier (SE Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, U of M), Clare Hinrichs (Rural Sociology, Pennsylvania State University), Bernhard Freyer (Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture; University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna)

Listener: Randel Hanson (Geography, U of M-Duluth)

3:00-4:30 pm

“What Do People in other Disciplines Seem to Know When They Talk about Food (That You Wish You Knew More About)?”

Using food studies, social sciences, applied economics, and policy studies to navigate the conceptual ‘map’ of how food is understood, this panel puts central issues of food availability into context from different disciplinary points of view and develops a shared perspective on the long-term and multi-disciplinary background for current trends of studying food issues. (Audio download – 62.0 MB)

Question and Answer Session

Facilitator: Valentine Cadieux (Geography, U of M)

Panelists: Richard Wilk (Anthropology and Gender Studies, Indiana University), Lisa Heldke (Philosophy, Gustavus Adolphus College), Ben Senauer (Department of Applied Economics, U of M), Jim Harkness (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)

Listener: Rachel Schurman (Sociology, U of M)

Saturday, March 5, Campus Club West Wing, Coffman Memorial Union, Fourth Floor

9:00 am–12:00 pm

(Registration is required. Contact or 612-626-5054)

“How Might We Talk with Each Other about Food Abundance and Scarcity in New and Powerful Ways?”  

What are productive ways to understand disciplinary and political differences in how we talk about, and do research on, food? How can the necessity of disciplinary protocols be balanced with a desire to disrupt those prescriptions by bringing in work from other disciplines? And how might this understanding enable us to better evaluate food provisioning, governance, activism, and the future of food studies across different paradigms? We explore how to create and institutionalize meaningful connections that will continue beyond the symposium and the life of the project. (Audio download – 83.9 MB)

Question and Answer Session

Facilitator: Jay Bell (Associate dean of academic programs and faculty affairs, CFANS, U of M)

Panelists: Jeffrey Pilcher (History, U of M) and Daniel Block (Geography, Chicago State University)

Listeners: Rachel Schurman (Sociology, U of M), Elton Mykerezi (Applied Economics, U of M), and Randel Hanson (Geography, U of M-Duluth)


Interviews with several conference participants, as well as links to other recordings of other events in the University Symposium on Abundance and Scarcity, are also available by clicking on this posts tags.

Margaret Adamek, PhD, has worked in the development of sustainable food systems for over fifteen years, much of it within a land grant university context. She served as the chair of the $60 million, Kellogg Foundation-funded Food Systems Professions Education initiative, a consortium of 13 major land grant universities and over 120 partner colleges and universities. She has published widely on the role and paradigms of land grant universities associated with feeding the public and food production. Her most recent role at the University of Minnesota was as the Local Foods Research Fellow for the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. She remains an affiliate faculty member for the University’s Center for Rural Design.

Jay Bell (Soil, Water, and Climate, Associate Dean of academic programs and faculty affairs, CFANS, U of M) received Morse-Alumni Award for Undergraduate Teaching in 2007 and is a two-time recipient of the college’s Distinguished Teaching Award. He has developed a research and teaching program focusing on the ecology of wetland soils, soil geomorphology, and applications of geographic information science to problems of soil mapping and has played a critical role in designing the University’s Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management curriculum.

Daniel Block (Geography, Chicago State University) is also the coordinator for The Fredrick Blum Neighborhood Assistance Center, which provides technical and research assistance to neighborhood based, community, and economic development organizations. He has an extensive background in food studies and Geographic Information Systems and is a founding member of the Chicago Food Systems Collaborative. His research has focused in two areas: the development of milk regulation in early 20th century Chicago and, more recently, on disparities in food access in urban neighborhoods. His most recent work has involved working with both community groups and interdisciplinary partnerships. Recent publications include “Public health, cooperatives, local regulation, and the development of modern milk policy: the Chicago milkshed, 1900–1940” (2009) and ““What fills the gaps in food deserts? Mapping independent groceries, food stamp card utilization and chain fast-food restaurants in the Chicago area” (2006).

Valentine Cadieux (Geography, U of M) studies the cultural geography of land use change and the politics of planning processes at the urban-rural interface, particularly concentrating on intersections of urbanization, nature conservation, and agriculture activism. Her research explores land use planning histories and uses ethnographic and cultural landscape analysis methods to explore the experience of and aspirations associated with the landscapes pejoratively identified in urban planning and nature conservation discourses as sprawl.

Tracey Deutsch (History, University of Minnesota) studies the history of capitalism, the politics of consumer society, food and reproductive labor, and the history of women and gender. Recent publications include “Untangling Alliances; Social Tensions at Neighborhood Grocery Stores and the Rise of Chains,” in Food Nations (2002), Building a Housewife’s Paradise: Gender, Politic and American Grocery Stores in the Twentieth Century (2010) and “Memories of Mothers in the Kitchen: Local Foods, History, and Women’s work,” Radical History Review (April, 2011).

Bernhard Freyer (MISA, Global Studies, University of Minnesota; Institute of Organic Farming, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna) studies the role and future of the organic movement in a modern society. Empirical research projects focus on climate change, organics, sustainability in monasteries, consumer studies, and adoption and diffusion processes in developing countries, mainly based on qualitative social science methods. A central topic accompanying his empirical research is the investigation on social-psychological and social science theories, and transdisciplinary research, theorizing the organic agro-food chain. At the Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture, his research focuses on the analysis of the future of organic agriculture mainly from the perspective of organic farmers, organized in the form of “philosophical round tables” in Minnesota. Furthermore he is working on topics in relation to the significance of the terms “care”, “health”, “time” or “quality” and the role of quality for “feeding the world” in the context of the organic movement.

Randel Hanson (Geography, U of M-Duluth) is an expert on food systems planning and foodshed analysis. He is a leader in local foods issues in Duluth, convening the Superior Grown Food Summit in 2009 and chairing the Zeppa Foundation’s Green Jobs Action Planning Committee on Food Localization. He is spearheading curricular and research initiatives around sustainable agriculture at UMD, including the uses of the former NE Agricultural Extension Farm, orchard and historical records as a laboratory for teaching and learning about food systems past, present and future.

Jim Harkness (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy) joined IATP in July 2006. Previously he served as Executive Director of the World Wildlife Fund in China from 1999-2005, where he expanded the organization’s profile from a strict focus on conservation of biodiversity to also addressing the consequences of China’s economic growth on a broader sustainable development agenda. From 1995-1999, Jim worked as the Ford Foundation’s Environment and Development Program Officer for China. He has written and spoken frequently on China and sustainable development, and has served as an adviser for the World Bank and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Jim grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has a B.A. in Asian studies from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s in development sociology from Cornell University.

Lisa Heldke (Philosophy, Gustavus Adolphus College) is committed to exploring the philosophical significance of food, a topic about which philosophers historically have had very little to say. She is the Sponberg Chair of Ethics at Gustavus Adolphus and editor of the journal Food, Culture and Society. She has published numerous articles and a book, Exotic Appetites: Ruminations of a Food Adventurer, and has also coedited Cooking, Eating, Thinking: Transformative Philosophies of Food (with Deane Curtin) and The Atkins Diet and Philosophy. She is currently working on two projects, one an examination of the dichotomy between cosmopolitanism, on the one hand, and localism on the other, using the lens of “local food” as a focusing device; and the other a brief history of philosophers’ treatment, neglect and mistreatment of food as a topic of serious inquiry.

Clare Hinrichs (Rural Sociology, Pennsylvania State University) conducts research that broadly addresses social change and development in food, agricultural and environmental systems, focusing particularly on the organization and politics of transitions to sustainability. She was an ESRC/SSRC Visiting Fellow with the Rural Economy and Land Use Programme at the University of Newcastle in the UK in 2006, and conducted the rural sociology fieldwork for the nine farm case studies profiled in the recent National Research Council report, Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century (2010). Her edited book, Remaking the North American Food System: Strategies for Sustainability (with Thomas Lyson, 2008) presents practice-oriented research on food system change by a collaborative network of rural sociologists, agricultural economists, political scientists, anthropologists, community nutritionists and planners from across the United States. Her current research projects examine 1) the social organization and equity impacts of sustainability standards for food and agriculture and 2) structures and cultures of food access.

Erin Meier (U of M SE Regional Sustainable Development Partnership) is the director of the University of Minnesota Southeast Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, also known as the Experiment in Rural Cooperation. Ms. Meier holds an MS in Sustainable Agriculture from Iowa State University and has research interests in local food systems, consumer behavior, external costs of agriculture and community-based change. She is a geographer (BS, University of Illinois) with past experience as a cartographer and geographic information systems analyst. The University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships are citizen-driven organizations based in five regions throughout greater Minnesota. Their work links University resources with community-identified, regionally-based projects in sustainable agriculture, community-based food systems, renewable energy, natural resource use, rural economic development and community vitality.

Elton Mykerezi (Applied Economics, U of M) has focused recent research on measuring household food insecurity and poverty as well as identifying the causes and consequences of such deprivation. He has also examined the role of food assistance in alleviating food insecurity in the U.S. He has published on the impact that food assistance has on food insecurity and has active projects aiming to identify the impact of food insecurity on school performance for children. He is also researching how subjective perceptions and knowledge affect food insecurity.

Jeffrey M. Pilcher (History, U of M) teaches classes on food and drink in world history. He is editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of the History of Food. His works include the award-winning !Que vivan los tamales! Food and the Making of Mexican Identity (1998), The Sausage Rebellion: Public Health, Private Enterprise, and Meat in Mexico City (2006), Food in World History (2006), and Radical Foodways, a special issue of the Radical History Review, co-edited with Daniel Bender (2011)

Kim Robien (Epidemiology and Community Health, U of M) is establishing a research program in nutrition, molecular epidemiology and pharmacogenetics in relation to cancer prevention and survivorship. Vitamin D and folate have been the focus of her research to date. She is also interested in environmental nutrition and sustainable food systems, and the extent to which exposure to pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and other chemicals through food and water may contribute to risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.

Rachel Schurman (Sociology, U of M) conducts research in the sociology of food and agriculture with an emphasis on social movements, environmental and political socioology, and Latin America. Her most recent book, Fighting for the Future of Food: Activists Vs. Agribusiness in the Struggle Over Biotechnology (with William Munro, 2010), analyzes social resistance to agricultural biotechnology and how it has shaped the development and deployment of genetically modified organisms around the world. The book explores the significance of industry structures, and activist and industry lifeworlds for the contemporary struggle over biotechnology.

Ben Senauer’s (Department of Applied Economics, U of M) primary areas of expertise are food policy, food marketing and prices, consumer behavior, and household economics.. His current research interests include the determinants of consumer food choice, world hunger and economic development, and the impact of globalization and global economic and demographic changes on the food industry. A recent area of research is the impact of both public and private efforts to combat obesity and encourage consumers to adopt healthier diets and lifestyles. Over the past thirty years, among other honors, he has been a visiting scholar at the International Food Policy Research Institute, the World Health Organization, and at the Food and Agriculture Organization. He has also been a consultant for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Agency for International Development (US-AID). He is coauthor of the books, Ending Hunger in Our Lifetime: Food Security and Globalization, and Food Trends and the Changing Consumer. He is also a co-editor of the forthcoming book, The Market Makers: How Retailers Are Reshaping the Global Economy.

Steve Striffler (Anthropology and Latin American Studies, University of New Orleans) conducts research on labor, commodities, and the Americas. He is the author of Chicken: The Dangerous Transformation of America’s Favorite Food (2007) and In the Shadows of State and Capital: The United Fruit Company, Popular Struggle, and Agrarian Restructuring in Ecuador, 1900–1995 (2001) and the editor of Banana Wars: Power, Production, and History in the Americas (with Mark Moberg, 2003). More recently, Striffler has been working with indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities that have been adversely impacted by multinational-owned coal mines in northern Colombia. As part of this project, he is writing a book with Aviva Chomsky, “Solidarity: Cross-Border Alliances in the Making of the Americas,” that traces the broad history of U.S.-Latin American solidarity.

Ann Waltner (History, Asian Languages and Literatures, and Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota) conducts research in the social history of sixteenth and seventeenth century China, comparative women’s history, and world history. She is a former editor of the Journal of Asian Studies. Current projects include: a book length manuscript on religion and society in sixteenth century China, as well an article on spatial impropriety and other transgressions in Shen Fu’s Six Records of a Floating Life and another on family scandal and political crisis in the domestic life of the sixteenth-century literatus Wang Shizhen, as shown in eulogies and letters.

Richard Wilk (Anthropology and Gender Studies, Indiana University) is a faculty associate of the Anthropological Center for Training and Research on Global Environmental Change (ACT) and a director of the Food Studies Program. His initial research on the cultural ecology of indigenous Mayan farming and family organization was followed by work on consumer culture and sustainable consumption, energy consumption, globalization, television, beauty pageants and food. Much of his recent work has turned towards the history of food, the linkages between tourism and sustainable development, and the origin of modern masculinity. Recent publications include Time, consumption and everyday life: practice, materiality and culture (edited with Elizabeth Shove, Frank Trentman, 2009), Home Cooking in the Global Village: Caribbean Food from Buccaneers to Ecotourists (2006), and Fast Food/Slow Food: the cultural economy of the global food system (2006).

Psyche Williams-Forson (American Studies, Women’s Studies, African American Studies, and the Consortium on Race, Gender and Ethnicity, University of Maryland) is an Associate Editor of Food and Foodways journal and (with Carole Counihan) co-author of the forthcoming anthology, Taking Food Public: Redefining Foodways In A Changing World (Routledge 2011). She also authored the award-winning book, Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, and Power (2006). Some of her new research includes “Bet Your Bottom Dollar: The Politics of Consuming from Dollar/Discount Stores in a Changing Food World,” which explores the role of the value market as a immediate site of food acquisition and a project on class, consumption, and citizenship among African Americans by examining domestic interiors from the late nineteenth-century to the early twentieth-century.

Don Wyse (Agronomy and Plant Genetics, U of M) is Co-Director of the Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management at the University of Minnesota, where he teaches and does research in weed biology and ecology, biological weed management, agroecology, and perennial crop breeding. His overall research focus has been on the development of multifunctional cropping systems that produce ecosystem services, are highly productive, and economically viable. Specific research areas have included the design of cropping systems that provide continuous living cover and the evaluation of their impact on soil erosion, nutrient, and water management; impact of cropping systems on management of invasive species; use of cover crops to develop no-tillage organic grain and vegetable cropping systems; breeding of perennial grasses, perennial sunflower, and perennial flax; breeding and selection of hairy vetch and mustard species as cover crops.

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