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FORMAT:             80 minute LECTURES

READING:           One BROAD REVIEW OR BOOK CHAPTER per session, posted on website and sent to each student by e-mail.

DAY:                     Tuesdays and Thursdays

TIME:                   3:30 pm to 4:50 pm

LOCATION:          MOSAIC Main


EXAMS:                Exams have to be taken in person.          

                              1) November 2                                             1 hour, multiple choice,

                              2) December 11 2023       3pm tp 5:59 pm  2 hours 59 minutes, simple sentence replies to questions


EVALUATION:       Grades will be based on reading questions submitted (25%), and Midterm (25%) and Final exam (50%)       




                              Recordings of lecture, PDF of slides, key concepts, and practice questions will be posted after each lecture.


Thursday, September 28

1. What is Food?

"You are what you eat". Autotrophy versus heterotrophy, Plants as the basis of food, the molecular nature of food

Reading: none

Tuesday, October 3

2. Culture and Food

"You eat what you are"., norms about local food, purity and health, cooking and eating habits

Reading: Food, Self and Identity. Claude Fischler. 1988. Anthropology of Food, Social Science Information


Thursday, October 5

3. Eating Landscapes

Ecology provides the menu, the eaters need to distinguish and choose.

Reading: The Sensory Ecology of Primate Food Perception Dominy N. et al. , 2001.  Evolutionary Anthropology


Tuesday, October 10

4. Dietary Adaptation

Poisonous landscapes and chemical tricks, with help from little friends, the gut microbiome.

Reading: Anti-nutritional factors in plant foods: Potential health benefits and adverse effects. Habtamu Fekadu Gemede, Negussie Ratta 2014 International Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences


Thursday, October 12

5. Broad versus Narrow

Generalist versus specialist, biochemical and behavioral demands of narrow or general diets.

Reading: The paradoxical nature of hunter-gatherer diets: meat-based, yet non-atherogenic L Cordain et al. 2002 European Journal of Clinical Nutrition Suppl 1, S42–S52


Tuesday, October 17

6. Leaves, Fruit, Seeds, or Animals?

How many hours a day do you want to be chewing? Easy to find low energy food versus difficult to find rich food?

Reading: The gourmet ape: evolution and human food preferences. John R Krebs. 2009. Am J Clin Nutr.


Thursday, October 19

7. Extractive Foraging

When food forces you to work: hard shells, underground food, defended seeds etc: chimpanzee nut-cracking, acorn leaching, yams treatments, nixtamalization.      

Reading: Life history, cognition and the evolution of complex foraging niches. Schuppli C. et al.. 2016. J. of Human Evolution


Tuesday, October 24

8. Hunting/Scavenging

The rewards and risks of meat. Humans as top carnivores.

Reading: Origins of the Human Predatory Pattern - The Transition to Large-Animal Exploitation by Early Hominins by Jessica C. Thompson, Carvalho, S. et al. 2009.Current Anthropology.


Thursday, October 26

9. Vitamins, things your body cannot make

A little bit of many things.

Reading: The Historical Evolution of Thought Regarding Multiple Micronutrient Nutrition. Richard D. Semba. 2012. The Journal of Nutrition


Tuesday, October 31

10. Minerals and Water

Salt and water, no life without them!

Reading: The ancestral human diet: what was it and should it be a paradigm for contemporary nutrition? S. Boyd Eaton. 2006. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society


Thursday, November 2

MIDTERM (Multiple choice questions)

Tuesday, November 7

11. The Immunological Paradox of Food

food is foreign, but we need it to get into our bodies. How do we avoid immune responses against every food?

Reading: Oral tolerance to food protein O Pabst  and AM Mowat 2012. Mucosal Immunology

Thursday, November 9

12. The Invention of Cuisine

mash, ferment and cook

Reading: Humans as Cucinivores. Furness & Bravo. 2015 J. Comp Physiology B

Tuesday, November 14

13. Fire on Demand

Fire technology: using occasional fire versus fire on demand          

Reading: The human dimension of fire regimes on Earth. David M. J. S. et al. Journal of Biogeography (2011) 38, 2223–2236


Thursday, November 16 

14. Farming, its Promise and its Price

The last interglacial and the independent invention of farming around the world.

Reading:  The agricultural revolution as environmental catastrophe: Implications for health and lifestyle in the Holocene Clark Spencer Larsen. 2006 .Quaternary International 150: 12–20

Tuesday, November 21

15. The Story of Sugar

Primates are destined to love sugar.                     

Reading: Gagneux, P. Sweetness in Human Evolution.  2015. Oxford Companion to Sweets. Oxford University Press. Darra Goldstein Editor.

Thursday, November 23

No Class Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 28

16. Industrial Food Production

From small farm gardens and fields to global agribusiness and industry  

Reading: The Industrial Food Stream and its Alternatives in the United States: An Introduction Mark A. Grey. 2000. Human organization

Thursday, November 30 

17. Let Them Eat Cake!

Feeding the masses, making profit and the global health crisis                        

Reading:  The global obesity pandemic: shaped by global drivers and local environments Boyd A Swinburn, Gary Sacks, Kevin D Hall, Klim McPherson, Diane T Finegood, Marjory L Moodie, Steven L Gortmaker. 2011. Lancet

Tuesday, December 5

18. The Future of Food

Feeding the masses, making profit and the global health crisis: 9 billion plus mouths to feed…..what are our options?    

Reading: Food, livestock production, energy, climate change, and health. Anthony J McMichael, John W Powles, Colin D Butler, Ricardo Uauy. 2007.  Lancet


Thursday, December 7

19. Recap: Humans and their Food

Monday, December 11


Cumulative, short answer questions, (not multiple choice)

Statement on Academic Integrity: 

“Academic Integrity is expected of everyone at UC San Diego. This means that you must be honest, fair, responsible, respectful, and trustworthy in all of your actions. Lying, cheating or any other forms of dishonesty will not be tolerated because they undermine learning and the University’s ability to certify students’ knowledge and abilities. Thus, any attempt to get, or help another get, a grade by cheating, lying or dishonesty will be reported to the Academic Integrity Office and will result sanctions. Sanctions can include an F in this class and suspension or dismissal from the University. So, think carefully before you act. Before you act ask yourself the following questions: a) is my action honest, fair, respectful, responsible & trustworthy and, b) is my action authorized by the instructor? If you are unsure, don’t ask a friend—ask your instructor, instructional assistant, or the Academic Integrity Office. You can learn more about academic integrity at” (Source: Tricia Bertram Gallant, Ph.D., UCSD Academic Integrity Office, 2017)

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