Food Minor Created, Opens Avenue for Careers in Food Industry

Photo by Nicole Williams

Starting in the Spring 2015 semester, Ramapo College will now offer a minor in food studies.

According to the food studies minor’s website, “The program will situate the study of the production, distribution and consumption of food in the context of social, biological and cultural analyses. It will provide students with a foundation to prepare them for a graduate studies and/or a career in the industry. Students will have an intensive experience, which will allow them to use their theoretical knowledge in practice and to provide them with opportunities for meaningful research.”

While the consumption, production and aesthetic appreciation of food will be studied, this minor will also examine philosophers, scientists, art historians and others. Martha Ecker, a sociology professor at Ramapo, explained that this minor came about after students expressed an interest in this avenue of study.

“I teach a course called food and population and I knew that there were several other courses being taught at the college and a number of students told me that they were interested in food studies so that was why,” Ecker said.

According to Ecker, there are five courses that students will need to take in order to complete this minor. These courses are Food and Culture (ANTH 220), Food and Population (SOCI 309), Sustainable Agriculture (ENST 339), Food Science (BIO 346) and Nutrition and Human Metabolism (BIO 345). Last Friday, an information session was held for students interested in learning more about the minor.

“After attending the information session, I am bummed knowing I won’t be here after next semester to take the classes needed to complete this minor. It sounds really interesting,” said Lindsay Davis, a senior.

Through this minor, students will learn about the different substances we eat and why the human race has deemed these animals, plants and microbes fit for consumption. They will also gain an understanding of how food contributes to different cultures.

“Gender, ethnicity, class, religion, the media and corporate capitalism will also be taught in order to show how consumers perceive, acquire, prepare and consume food,” stated the website.

“If I weren’t graduating this spring, I would definitely be interested in taking up the food studies minor,” said senior Samantha Bell. “Initially coming to Ramapo, I was undeclared and was interested in food science and nutrition, but no programs were offered here. I think it's great that Ramapo is beginning to offer new programs and expand its horizons in order to adapt to students' interests.”

This minor is available to all students, no matter their degree. While the minor includes biology courses, making it an easy fit for biology students, students of all fields of study have expressed interest in this minor, according to Ecker.

She went on to explain that there are jobs in the food industry that do not require very specific skills, but do require a working knowledge of the subject, and this minor would be beneficial to students looking to go into a career of that kind.

“I would’ve taken up the food studies minor because I enjoy self-educating myself and reading about nutrition on my own, but having a formal educational background on the topic would’ve been great too,” continued Bell. “I think it’s something really valuable that students should look into.”