Even zombie meals follow some rules. At least that’s the argument Melissa Francis, a graduate student with an interest in zombies presented in her final project for CJ 502. Her project, “Zombies and Brains: Food and Humans as Food in Zombie Films and Television Shows” compared zombie eating habits with those of humans.

This is the first time Kathy Isaacson, a lecturer in Communication & Journalism, has presented a course in food communication. She says the way people communicate about and with food serves as an important contribution to society. Food communication has tendrils into identity, culture, the environment, politics, justice, globalization, and education. Final presentations in the graduate course included songs, demonstrations, presentations and eating – lots of eating.

Props for Carlotts Anweiler's presentations "Food for Thought: Medication as food."
Props for Carlotta Anweiler's presentation "Food for Thought: Medication as food."

A zombie might approach food in one way. Others, like Carlotta Anweiler, spent part of the semester looking at “Food as Medicine” or “Medicine as food.” Students also looked at the impact of the Monsanto Corporation on food production as (not) addressed in the media, as well as the cultural impact of eating dog meat in Viet Nam and Korea. Food communication meant different things to different people. One student’s research focused on Super Bowl food commercials “Let the Monkey Serve the White Guy First.”

The final aspect of food communication explored in the course is what foodies are calling “the P word,” a focus of the food revolution, which emphasizes pleasure as a goal for convening people around food. The class committed to an expanded vocabulary, including these new words: food porn, gastropolitics, terroir, edible equity, seed sovereignty, climatarian and digestive fire.

Kathy Isaacson with students
Kathy Isaacson with students

The class created a Food and Communications website, which is still under construction.

Isaacson says that we create, communicate and manage our identities, cultures, relationships, and environment with our food choices.

Want some guidance in thinking about food? Here's a partial reading list from the course.

Food and Culture: A reader, Third Edition - edited by Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik

Food Rules - Michael Pollan

Food Politics - Marion Nestle and Michael Pollan

Food as Communication - Communication as Food - Janet Cramer, Carlnita Greene