UCSC symposium to address issues of nutrition, health, and food policy

Nutrition labels
Detailed food labels and food education often fail to get to the root of nutritional deficiency in society.

A symposium on nutrition, health, and, food policy is scheduled for Friday, March 8 from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. in 261 Social Sciences I on the UC Santa Cruz campus. The public is invited and admission is free.

Advice about what to eat for health and well-being is pervasive in the modern world. But such advice is often delivered as if it were uncontroversial, universally applicable, welcome, and effective.

When nutritional advice is ineffective in changing eating habits, the response has been for more detailed food labels and more emphasis on food education instead of consideration of the cultural and sociological assumptions that are built into nutritional science and advice.

The symposium will bring together six leading scholars of nutrition, public health, and food science to discuss and debate the place of nutrition science in public health policies and cultural politics today.

UC Santa Cruz food scholars Julie Guthman, Melissa Caldwell, Nancy Chen, and Jake Metcalf will provide commentary as visiting experts discuss: What's wrong or missing in conventional nutritional practice? What are its effects in terms of human health and social justice? What other approaches might work better?

Representing such disciplines as geography, public health, sociology, and communication, invited guests include Charlotte Biltekoff, American Studies and Food Science, at UC Davis; Jessica Hayes-Conroy, Women's Studies, Hobart and William Smith Colleges; Adele Hite, Public Health, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Aya H. Kimura, Women's Studies, University of Hawai'i-Manoa; Hannah Landecker, Sociology and Center for Society and Genetics, UCLA; and Jessica Mudry, Center for Engineering in Society, Concordia University.

The event is sponsored by the multi-campus Research Program on Food and the Body based at UCSC and the "Knowing Food" Research Cluster of UCSC's Center for Global, International, and Regional Studies. The UCSC Community Studies Program, Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, Science & Justice Research Center, and departments of Anthropology, Environmental Studies, and Sociology have provided additional support.

RSVP's are requested to Lisa Nishioka global@ucsc.edu. Questions regarding the program may be directed to Julie Guthman jguthman@ucsc.edu.