Graduate Studies Panel Discussion: The Ups and Downs of Food Studies

Document Type

Conference Proceeding



Conference Title

Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS), Place, Taste, and Sustenance: The Social Spaces of Food an Agriculture


Boston University, Boston, MA

Conference Dates

June 7-11, 2006

Date of Presentation



The lack of food literacy on a wide academic level has been problematic to the study of food in that there is an extreme disconnect between what the academic community knows, what they ought to know, and what they think they know about food studies and gastronomy departments. There is a huge chasm between Nutrition students, Food Studies students, Public Health students, History students and Anthropology students despite the fact that food often links the work these scholars do. Access to various disciplines is limited to those studying food specifically. Students are often barred from Nutrition courses and Public Health courses, limiting the discussion that can take place in the classroom, as well as the discourse that is being created with this emerging field. Similarly, communication between programs of this nature is inadequate. These fledgling programs lack a home and peer-group to gain academic support from. Food studies attempts to fill the space between Culinary schools, vocational-tech schools, and various academic departments. In its attempt to be interdisciplinary, food studies becomes impractical and confusing to potential employers. The advantages of studying Gastronomy, rather than completing a degree in history with a focus on food are scant when it comes time to fill out PhD applications. Identity issues are considerable without the easily recognizable tag of chef, anthropologist, historian, nutritionist, etc. When most food studies research does not fit into one program or discipline, the problem of how to determine future academic paths is a great one.