RCOF Syllabus

The Real Cost of Food Syllabus – Fall 2019

Instructor:  Dr. Eric Garza

Course Description

The Real Cost of Food offers participants an opportunity to learn about  the many social and environmental impacts associated with food production, distribution, consumption, and disposal. The goal of the course is to teach the value of seeing the food system and the products it delivers in a multifaceted way. While we focus on North America, course content will touch on issues in other parts of the world as well. Participants will engage with an array of audio, video, and written media, participate in discussion forums, and engage in an online Q&A session with Eric via Zoom each week. There will be no grading, and participants have flexibility in how they engage with the curriculum.  This online class begins on Monday, September 30, and will run for 8 consecutive weeks. Page down to read a more detailed version of the schedule.

Course Textbook

Participants are asked to purchase the book Tomatoland: From Harvest of Shame to Harvest of Hope, by Barry Estabrook.

Class Agreements

The Real Cost of Food is an online class with participants from many backgrounds and geographies. I (Eric Garza, the instructor and developer of the course) operate on the premise that everyone’s voice can contribute positively to the whole, and ask that each participant take seriously their responsibility to communicate well, especially at times when points of view may differ or disagreements arise. And if past iterations of this course are any indication, disagreements will surely arise.

While I do hope to support open and thought-provoking online conversations, this is not a ‘free speech zone’ where anything goes. I have crafted a list of agreements I hope we can all honor while participating in this class. Failure to honor these agreements may lead to a participant being asked to refrain from posting in discussion forums, or in extreme cases may lead to a participant being removed from the course.

The first four agreements I take from Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements. These have served me well in life so far.

  1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.
  2. Do Not Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality.
  3. Do Not Make Assumptions: Ask questions and express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings and drama.
  4. Always Do Your Best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

A few more agreements:

  1. Avoid Labeling Other People: Resist the temptation to put other people into boxes with succinct labels. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, name-calling.
  2. Be Open to Feedback: We invariably make mistakes, so rather than becoming defensive instead take a moment, slow down, and accept feedback as it is offered.
  3. Do Not Share Other People’s Contact Information Without Their Consent: Also, be thoughtful about the information you share publicly. Most people who take courses like mine are good, honest people, but sometimes a few are not.
  4. Do Not Share Other People’s Stories or Comments Without Their Consent: You can share publicly available resources that others link to in discussion forums (blogs, news articles, videos, etc.), but do not share other participants stories or comments outside this class without the original commenters consent.
  5. Best Foot Forward: Imagine that the people you are interacting with could offer you your dream job (or some other professional or personal opportunity) a few months from now. If you carry yourself this way throughout the class, you will likely not have any problems.

If you have questions about these agreements, or if you would like to see additional agreements added, please reach out to me and we can discuss.

Course Calendar

  • September 30, 2019: First day of class
  • October 4, 2019: Final day to withdraw and receive a full refund
  • October 11, 2019: Final day to withdraw and receive partial (50%) refund

Course Schedule

Week 1 (September 30 – October 4) Topics: A Brief History of Food; An Introduction to Food Systems

Week 2 (October 7 – October 11) Topics: Energy Use in Food Systems; Water Use in Food Systems; Land Use in Food Systems

Week 3 (October 14 – October 18) Topics: Food Production and Nutrient Cycles; Impacts of Pesticides, Herbicides, and Fertilizers; Food Production, Greenhouse Gasses, and Global Warming

Week 4 (October 21 – October 25) Topics: Marginalization of Food Labor; Tensions Between Food Laborers and Consumers Over Food Prices

Week 5 (October 28 – November 1) Topics: Food as a Commodity; Tension Between Food Entrepreneurs and Consumers Over Food Prices

Week 6 (November 4 – November 8) Topics: A Brief History of Food Prices; Food Security in the United States; The Pursuit of Food Sovereignty

Week 7 (November 11 – November 15) Topics: Declining Nutritional Value of Food; Dietary Choices and Chronic Inflammation; The Human Microbiome

Week 8 (November 18 – November 22) Topics: The Politics of Food; From Global to Local Food; Moving Forward

Terms and Conditions

The following Terms of Service apply to your use of the website EricGarza.info and any classes or discussion forums hosted thereon. By registering for a course hosted on this website, you acknowledge that you have read, understood, and agree to the following:

  • You acknowledge that you will receive email content from me for the purposes of keeping you updated about the class,
  • I reserve the right to remove any comment in our discussion forum that jeopardizes the safety and positive energy of our class,
  • I request that you refrain from solicitation and promotion of goods, services, websites or requesting money (profit or non-profit),
  • Personal contact information (including Facebook, Twitter, email/mailing addresses and telephone numbers) that is not your own should never be copied, shared, discussed, posted or requested publicly in the class,
  • Please do not post content from our community outside of this space,
  • All content on this forum is the sole responsibility of the party who posts it,
  • In short, you agree that you will make your best effort to remain in alignment with the values and responsibilities voiced here, and of course, will under no circumstances act in a manner that violates laws and community boundaries that have been established to respect and protect other human beings.