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Food Anthropology Studies Programs

I'm a big food nerd and realized I know little about Food Anthropology as an academic discipline. Is anyone familiar with this area of study or have heard about which universities offer the best programs, both in the US and abroad?


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  1. Hi Waxyjax,

    I'm not familiar with any specific programs - my recommendation would be to look up professors by books they've written and you've enjoyed. Once you know which universities they're at, you can begin looking at their programs. Good luck - and please report back, I'd be interested in hearing more about the different programs.

    1. I too am a food nerd and i fantisize about quitting my job to be a grad student in food anthropology...Have you looked at the NYU's food studies program? Cornell, which used to have one of the US's premier Home Economics department does have some sort of program as does a university (whose name i do not recall) Bologna Italy where you can obtain a MS in Gastronomy.....

      1. ok, i'll do some more digging and let you all know.

        i knew people who did the food studies program at nyu--but their focus was more one nutrition. the program offers a concentration in food culture. good thing i live in new york--perhaps i can try and drop in on some lectures!

        1. Boston University offers a masters in gastronomy. I believe Jacque Pepin is associated with it and may have started it with the help of Julia herself. I think it's part of their 'Metropolitan College"

          1. You can put me in the loop as well. I'm a long-practicing agricultural anthropologist working on--among others--food systems, crop biofortification, traditional knowledge and practice, local food system responses to globalization and to climate change, and the like. When I work in the field, I talk a lot to everyone who cooks, take photos, eat, learn techniques, and generally have so much fun that nothing is ever really work.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              Sam - can I email you with some questions? I tried the address on your profile and it bounced back.

              1. re: rachael_emily

                Sadly, Sam Fujisaka passed away earlier this year. See the Site Talk board for a long thread about his passing.

            2. I just completed my masters at BU and know quite a few people at NYU's program. I really enjoyed the program, but it requires that you have some direction and know what you want to do with it. Feel free to contact me off the board if you have more questions.

              4 Replies
              1. re: iluvbacon

                How does one contact you? I didn't see an email or website on your profile.

                1. re: iluvbacon

                  I would like t ocontact you too, but I don't know how. :P

                  1. re: iluvbacon

                    Me too! I would love to hear about your experience at Boston University.

                    1. re: ereid85

                      It's been a while since I looked at this post. If you still want to contact me, drop me an email at admayo @ bu.edu

                  2. You should also check out Indiana University, which is offering a interesting program that includes sustainable food classes in addtion to the history of food and non cooking culinary classes. Having gotten a degree in Hospitality and graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, if I did not have a full time job and a family, I would drop everything and sign up for one of those programs. It is certainly something I am going to consider when I retire!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Miami Foodie Girl

                      Indiana University also offers a doctorate in the anthropology of food.

                    2. the university of gastronomic sciences in italy has a 3 year undergraduate, 2 year graduate, and 2 different 1 year masters programs. i am currently attending the masters in food culture and communications which studies a wide range of food related subjects - history, economics, anthropology....http://www.unisg.it/welcome_eng.lasso

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: sryan

                        Hey! I am really interested in that university and I would love to attend the food culture and communications as well as the 2 year graduate degree... But I had some doubts because I don't know how recognized is this university.. Do you know there are jobs out there once you graduate?
                        It'll be a huge help if you could tell me a bit about it!!!!! Thanks a lot!!

                        1. re: sryan

                          I would love to know what you think of this program as I am seriously considering it for 2011. I have a BS in nutrition and I'm a registered dietitian but really want to redirect my career more towards the culture and history of food rather than nutrition.

                          1. re: cmheroux

                            @cmheroux I too have a BS in nutrition and interested in focusing on food and culture from a historical perspective. What is your specific focus and location?

                        2. I'm currently a student of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh. We have a course on the Anthropology of Food taught by a "nutritional anthropologist". When looking for programs that have to do with the anthropology of food you need to have a particular focus in mind. What are you primarily concerned with? The ecology, agriculture? Or the nutritional side of food? or maybe cooking techniques. Finding food anthropologist is a great place to begin! You have to do some detective work though.
                          Also, Chatham University (also located in pittsburgh) just added a Masters of Arts in Food Studies, check it out http://www.chatham.edu/mafs/

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: thecollegefoodie

                            If I could pick up and leave, I would like to pursue food studies in London at http://www.soas.ac.uk/foodstudies/ which covers west african food studies.

                          2. I don't have much to add, but wanted to wish you good luck.

                            I have an BA in Social and Cultural Anthropolgy from the University of Calgary and took quite a few food and nutrition related courses. If I were to do a graduate degree I would be focusing on food + health.

                            Writing a paper for an anthro food seminar on social conflict between vegetarians and omnivores in contemporary North American society actually was the catalyst for my becoming a vegetarian and led me down the holistic health writing path I am on today.

                            1. I am very jealous if you happen to do this:} Check out the New School in NYC; I know that they offer at least classes, though I'm not sure about a full fledged program. Also, I recall from SUNY Stony Brook (my undergrad) a very infamous professor, W. Arens taught a much loved food anthro class which I regret not taking.
                              My only question: what do you plan to do with a degree? Is it just for fun or do you have a career in mind? My Masters is in Museum Anthropology from Columbia University and unfortunately I must say that there were very few career opportunities aside from going on for a PhD (I wanted to reenter the real world at some point so I declined), which is why I am now a high school history teacher:} By the way, a word of caution: I absolutely LOVED my undergrad anthro classes as they dealt primarily with culture. You may already know this, but I didn't: grad classes tend to focus heavily on theory and what I call gobblygook:} Point being, if you're not looking for a degree, you may get more enjoyment out of an undergrad track.

                              1. try this link:

                                I've heard that the London School in Food Anthropology is quite good. Cooking school generally has a good overview as well:)

                                1. I also am very interested in food anthropology, especially sustainable agriculture, traditional foodways, and social justice. What kind of job opportunities are there for hyper-educated and under-experienced grads if I do go through with a PhD? I'm not interested in going to work for a genetic engineering or hybrid seed corporation. Any tips on getting my hands dirty in the field? I'm recently out of college so I've got nothing tying me down. Thanks

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: rachael_emily

                                    Unfortunately even with a PhD there aren't a ton of jobs, at least unless you don't mind moving all over the country (or out of the country). Most universities now prefer hiring adjunct professors so they can pay them less. However, you may have to work for more than one university depending on how many classes they give you to teach. Working in a museum is a no-brainer, but again, you may have to move across the country to find a museum with a job opening. If you can make it to the position of a curator you've got it made, but many other museum jobs unfortunately are extremely low-paying. I was shocked when I finished my MA in museum anthropology that I couldn't get arrested in NYC- and I had a masters from Columbia. There just weren't any jobs. As for "social justice" jobs, my best guess would be to find a non-profit, or start up your own. Since you don't mind getting your hands dirty, how about joining the Peace Corps? It may also give you really good connections for future job prospects, especially in the non-profit or government areas. *If you are extremely over-educated, look in the Economist; they often post ads for overeducated PhDs willing to work in 3rd world countries. Good luck.

                                    1. re: rachael_emily

                                      Nicole is right. There are few tenure-track positions for PhDs specialized in the anthropology of food. You probably don't need to a PhD for the types of jobs you are alluding to and a masters with an applied scope could serve you well. You should have a look at the Good Food Jobs site to see what kinds of jobs are out there and what sort of skills they require.

                                    2. Hi,
                                      I don't know if you're still reading replies to your post or if you enrolled and graduated ages ago, but I'll put in a response anyway.
                                      I enrolled in the Masters in Gastronomy program at the University of Adelaide, Australia in 2009 and will be graduating next month. I began studying on-campus, but switched to doing it online, even though it would take much longer, so that I could continue to travel to the USA to visit my partner, who lives in Portland, Oregon.
                                      Although I resigned from my 12-year teaching position to do it, in the process racking up another big student debt after paying off my previous one, and I have no immediate gastronomy-related job lined up as a result of my labours, I enjoyed every moment of my studies. I learned a great deal and enhanced my analytical ability and research skills, which hopefully will count for something in my job search, even if the position I'm applying for isn't directly related to gastronomy.
                                      Be aware that it can be difficult to get US recognition of degrees awarded by non-US universities, even if these are well-known internationally. One evaluation agency said I had the equivalent of two bachelors' degrees from a regionally accredited US college, which is nonsense, but they were basing this on the fact that the entry requirement was for a 3 year BA (standard length of time to do this in Aus) rather than for the US 4-year standard. On the other hand, if the MA program at the University of Adelaide admits you on the strength of your 4-year US BA, you probably won't have the recognition problem I did.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: robryk

                                        thanks for the reply...i've been following this thread since 2008 and your response is very relevant

                                        1. re: sixelagogo

                                          Thanks. By the way, I should mention that the Masters in Gastronomy at the University of Adelaide, which used to be in conjunction with Le Cordon Bleu International, is now a Masters in Food Studies, minus LCB.

                                      2. Indiana University offers a doctorate in the anthropology of food. I know many of the professors, and they represent an amazingly broad range of interests and research.

                                        1. Hi all! Great information here -- is anyone still listening?

                                          If so, I could use some advice or perspective from experts and insiders in the field. I'm four years out of college and have done many odd jobs in that time, but am currently wrapping up my first year at a real job (i.e. one that doesn't have an end date). In school I studied journalism largely because I couldn't make up my mind and it seemed like a major more likely to open doors than an English lit degree. While I still find my interests far-reaching, I thought a dynamic field like food anthropology, which has the potential to combine my love of research, travel, food, and most importantly, learning. However, your comments about jobs being scarce does give me pause as it seems I might be jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

                                          For those of you with masters or Ph.Ds in food studies/nutritional anthropology/gastronomy/etc., have your job prospects improved at all since this thread was last updated? Also, are there any options for someone with a doctorate to pursue beyond a career in academia? From what I've read and heard, Ph.D candidates often have a better time funding their academics than masters students thanks to university stipends, grants, etc.

                                          Sorry for the long questions, but any advice or insights you can share would be greatly appreciated! thanks!

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: nicoledunc

                                            I'm still totally watching this thread! I found this list that Michael Pollan compiled http://michaelpollan.com/resources/po... (list of program is towards the middle of the page). I'd love to hear what kind of jobs/opportunities PhD's land upon graduating. I'm currently working for the state public health department (working in occupational health), but I worked previously as a restaurant & catering cook, so I'm totally looking for a cohesive program that could merge my two interest together. Thanks!

                                            1. re: nicoledunc

                                              Also still watching! @vircabutar, thanks for the michael pollan link.

                                              1. re: emilyla

                                                Interesting thread-also thanx for the michael pollan link

                                                I have a Masters Degree in Public Health (Community Health Education) and a B.A. in Home Economics

                                            2. I got so much information from Michale Twitty try contacting him.

                                              1. I was recently accepted into the three year undergrad degree at the university of gastronomic sciences in Italy but due to my finanacial situation I don't think I will be able to attend, at least for this year anyway. It's fairly upsetting but thought i'd put the question out there if anyone is aware of a similar undergrad course. Gastronomy would be ideal but if it's more towards food science, agriculture, sustainability or what not that would be okay too. Thank you for any help!