A cup of hot chocolate


A Fall 2020 First-Year Tutorial

Food: Rituals, Technologies, and Policies

A First-Year Tutorial offered fall 2020, taught by Leslie Lyons, professor of chemistry

We will read, write, and talk about food from a multidisciplinary perspective. Novels and films elevate food well beyond the mundane necessity of caloric sustenance. Yet, the forms food take vary from person, place, and time and, in many ways, provide for connections and differences between people. Improving and understanding food at a molecular level are goals of scientists, but do technical achievements really impact food choices and food quality? With increasing reports of foodborne illness, is our food safe? What are the governmental policies that protect consumers? How do these policies respond to new food technologies such as genetically modified foods or nanoparticles in food? We’ll feast on these topics.

Books Discussed in This Tutorial

Like Water for Chocolate

From the humanities: a novel

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Devoured: How What We Eat Defines Who We Are

From social studies: American food culture

Devoured: How What We Eat Defines Who We Are by Sophie Egan

Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety

From the sciences: food technologies and policies

Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety by Marion Nestle

Why I Taught This Topic

In my tutorial, I link a topic all of my students are very familiar with (food) and the Grinnell liberal arts education. Our three books draw from the literature of the humanities, cultural studies from social studies, and the interface of science and technology from the sciences to connect with the everyday aspects of what we eat. In our reading, writing, and discussion of food topics, I introduce the students to the range of directions their college education at Grinnell can take. Students will be eating for the rest of their lives and after this tutorial I hope each bite they take will be enriched.

– Leslie Lyons


We use cookies to enable essential services and functionality on our site, enhance your user experience, provide better service through personalized content, collect data on how visitors interact with our site, and enable advertising services.

To accept the use of cookies and continue on to the site, click "I Agree." For more information about our use of cookies and how to opt out, please refer to our website privacy policy.