March 4, 2006

The Politics of Food: St. Cloud State

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Dr. Tracy Ore, an associate professor of sociology & anthropology at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, has been teaching a 'Sociology and the Politics of Food' class featuring an informative website:

"This website is put together by students from St Cloud State University in a "Sociology and Politics of Food" class. Students in the course examined how the production, distribution, preparation, consumption, and/or representation of a particular food or consumed item creates reinforces, or challenges structures of power among specific groups of people. The goal of the class was to make the information gathered both available and useful to those outside of the class. This web site is the result, serving as a “clearinghouse” of information on the politics of food. The purpose of this site is to provide information about a variety of ordinary items we consume and the actions that we can all take regarding the politics of food in our everyday lives."

It's refreshing that the course is designed to produce good public information. The students' PDFs are great introductions, emphasizing 'things you should know' and 'things you can do.' This structure, however, makes it diffulcult to get a sense of how a particular commodity chain operates from start to finish. Similarly, while labor issues an environmental costs are addressed, they're not cleary organized. Once we complete our website redesign, we'd like to approach Dr. Ore and assess her interest in a possible HSIM / St. Cloud State collaboration.

The Politics of Food, Class Website
Syllabus

February 5, 2006

How the New York Times is Made

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The New York Times' print circulation averages about 1.1 million for the daily edition, and just under 1.7 million for the Sunday edition. At over 8 million newspapers at week, or 430 million a year - that's a lot of paper. Of the Times' 19 nationally distributed printing facilities, one is located in New York in College Point, Queens. The Times offers a 'virtual tour' of the plant - an exciting prospect, but not well executed. To be sure, it raises some interesting questions, but the pictures are blurry, information is spare, and in nearly all of the photographs nary a worker is to be found. Given their willingness to provide some information on their production process, perhaps they could be convinced to team up with HSIM to produce what could be a compelling essay - one that includes not just the technology and resources required to churn out over a million newspapers a day, but labor issues and environmental costs as well.

NYT College Point Virtual Tour