Enrollment is currently open for The Real Cost of Food. This course offers participants an opportunity to learn about  the many social and environmental impacts associated with food production, distribution, consumption, and disposal. This is an online course that begins on September 30, 2019 and will run for 8 consecutive weeks. This is NOT an automated experience; I will participate in weekly discussion forums and will host a weekly online video Q&A session that will be recorded for those unable to participate. Read through the course’s syllabus for a more detailed description and schedule. Click on this link to learn more, and to register. You can read testimonials from previous students of this class below.


I have taught at the college level for nearly a decade. Here are some testimonials from past undergraduate and graduate students.

“Professor Garza created the most insightful and well-composed course I had the opportunity to take while at the University of Vermont. His thoughtfully assembled lessons included a balance of hard sciences and social sciences, and a balance of mentally stimulating assignments and engaging discussions, providing his students with the tools with which to examine the course’s complex topics. He is an excellent communicator and an effective instructor, and I hope that students have an opportunity to learn with him for many years to come.” -Alayna T.

“For me, one of the most meaningful understandings I got out of your courses was exactly how much the global market influences what we consider “normal” in food terms. Potatoes are my favorite example. There are hundreds of different domesticated species, and yet we regularly see maybe 4 different ones available in supermarkets. I would recommend this class to anyone who wants to eat ethically as well as for people who are passionate about food in any way.” -Missy C.

“I had the privilege of taking three of Eric Garza’s courses throughout my time at the University of Vermont. Each was equally thoughtful, challenging and informative. Eric’s courses perpetuated not only my knowledge of, but my general passion for our food systems, which are ever so complex and always changing.” -Ashley R.

“Eric’s class was one of the most thought-provoking I took in my master’s program at University of Vermont. At once both incredibly applied and also theoretical, it helped me to understand the role of energy in so many systems and products of our economy and built environment. It also was challenging on a deeply personal level—the intrinsic message of what we were learning was to challenge and reconsider our role in the energy economy, in the food system, and in our communities.” -Daniel K.

“Eric is clearly very knowledgeable about the interwoven complexities of food systems issues and how to approach them through a systems-thinking lens. The class I took with him was well-balanced between reading and discussion on the one hand, and hands-on activities to learn new skills in investigating food systems on the other, including regularly diagramming system dynamics as well as a project to understand real-time commodity crop market statistics. The lessons he offers are valuable for both graduate and undergraduate students, and he is great at teaching in a way that is both challenging and accessible at the same time.” -Hannah S.

“A thought-provoking class that gave real world ways for us to see our relationship to our food system. Eric was a passionate professor who gave us the opportunity to critically think and to be an active part of our learning. I enjoyed the activity of tracking the carbon footprints of various agricultural operations here in Vermont. I also never mind a class whose readings include Michael Pollan.” -Meg D.

“Eric’s ability to clearly and succinctly apply complex systems theory to the paradoxical food system in America somehow makes very complicated topics seem simple to understand. Eric has a true knack for combining visual and verbal learning tools that allow a diverse group of students to navigate and explore their own interests within the food system.” -Michelle S.

“Professor Garza was truly a formative influence in my developing interest in food systems as a student at the University of Vermont; his thought-provoking and assumption-smashing lectures are refreshing for systems thinkers who enjoy the complexity of wicked problems like the food system. I have him to thank for challenging my blanket assumptions about the sustainability of local and small-scale agriculture, especially as it pertains to energy use.” -Olivia P.

“Professor Garza helped enhance my education at UVM my expanding how I perceived my own footprint within the food system and how I could help inspire change within the food industry! Everyone should take his course or at least take a moment to chat with him and everything he has to offer the community.” -Ella F.

“I took The Real Cost of Food with Eric Garza a few years ago and still reflect on what I learned in that class, especially on the complexity of the food system. The class encouraged me to take a deeper look into the source of my food including where it comes from and who was part of the process of getting it to me, from small farmers to large industries. It was engaging and I would recommend others interested in taking a nuanced look at various aspects of the food system to take this class!” -Michelle G.

“Professor Garza’s course helped both broaden and deepen my understanding of the subject. The tools and lessons I gained from his class have helped me enter into the field of agricultural development, and I carry them with me in my work still.” -Jini K.

“Two of my favorite courses as an undergraduate student at UVM were The Real Cost of Food and Complexity in Food Systems, both taught by Eric Garza. Eric created such a welcoming space for students to engage in open discussion and healthy debate while simultaneously pushing us to question our own beliefs and opinions. The required coursework was practical, easy to understand, and intriguing. These courses were some of the few where I actually looked forward to doing my homework. Eric is a unique individual who brings an unparalleled life experience to the classroom.” -Carolyn R.

“As both a former student in one of Eric’s food literacy classes and an avid listener of his podcasts for the past couple years, I highly recommend taking his classes. I see Eric as an independent thinker who strives to live an intentional life and has inspired others around him, including me, to do the same. Something that stood out to me about Eric as a teacher is his fearlessness in leading the class to explore difficult questions together. I appreciated that the stimulating intellectual discussion he inspired was grounded in a relevance that extended beyond the classroom.” -Rylee W.

“The space for learning that Eric creates is intentional, thought-provoking, and accessible. Rather than chasing down single answers or conclusions, Eric encourages students to look at issues regarding food systems from all angles, most importantly to challenge assumptions of ourselves and society. Eric’s personal knowledge and openness to conversation is refreshing and critical in guiding students to new understandings of food in society as people and as stewards.” -Nell C.

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