the political economy of food
FALL syllabus/schedule/readings
(online readings are constantly updated! notify me of broken links promptly!

all materials are provided for educational use only.

Books available at the Bookstore:

  • Christopher D. Cook, Diet for a Dead Planet. 2006: W W Norton & Co.
  • C. Clare Hinrichs, Thomas A. Lyson, ed., Remaking the North American Food System: Strategies for  Sustainability. 2008: U of Nebraska Press
  • Angus Lindsay Wright, Wendy Wolford, To Inherit the Earth: The Landless Movement and the Struggle  for a New Brazil.  2003: Food First Books



week 1 September 8: introductory class

topic 1: production

Week 2 September 15 the green revolution

required readings


week 3 Sept 22 scale & efficiency (is bigger better?)

required readings

  • Cook, Diet for a Dead Planet pages 79-152 and 217-229.
  • Marty Strange, Family Farming. 1989: University of Nebraska Press, particularly chapters 1, 2, 5, 6.
  • Kevin Morgan, Terry Marsden, and Jonathan Murdoch, "Geographies of Agri-Food" 53-70 in Worlds of Food. 2006: Oxford University Press, Oxford. (this pdf includes the whole chapter; note that you only need to read to page 70)

optional readings

organizations and resources


Week 4 September 29 organic

required readings


synthetic pesticides and fertilizers

exam 1 posted october 6, due october 24 5 pm

Week 5 October 6 "alternative" production

recommended film: Global Gardener (Permaculture)


October 13 Holiday, No Classes

Week 6 October 20 biotechnology

    required readings

    explore on your own: read at least 5 articles from below

what is it?

regulations & policy

October 29 field trip to the food project


topic 2 : economics

Week 7 November 3 international economics


• Cook Diet for a Dead Planet pages 229-242

• any four articles below

exam 2 posted November 10, due nov 21 at 5 pm

Week 8 November 10 free trade

required: read at least 5 articles from below

organizations and resources

  • recommended film: This is What Free Trade Looks Like


week 9 November 17 alternative trade


C. Clare Hinrichs & Thomas A. Lyson, ed., Remaking the North American Food System. 2007: University of Nebraska Press: pages 65-344.

Herman Daly, "A Steady-State Economy". Sustainable Development Commission, UK (April 24, 2008).

Read one from each section below.

urban agriculture

fair trade

community currency

organizations and resources

Recommended readings

  • John C. Cross, Informal Politics: Street Veendors and the State in Mexico City. 2002: Cambridge University Press.


topic 3 : consumption

Week 11 December 1


  • final exam posted december 1 due dec 15 at 5:30 pm


Week 12 December 8 :

land reform

Angus Lindsay Wright, Wendy Wolford, To Inherit the Earth: The Landless Movement and the Struggle  for a New Brazil.  2003: Food First Books.