Scroll to top

Food and the City – Course Brief

  • Tags

    Food politics, Environment, Course brief, food and the city, urban agriculture, Permaculture, Sustainable farming

At Bachelor of Urban Design, CEPT University
Course Tutors: Mansi Shah + Purvi Vyas

Course Brief

Have you ever considered how many aspects of food production and consumption affect your health and the natural environment? Every aspect needs to be considered in attaining the future goal to produce enough food for the growing population while at the same time preserving our planet. It’s as difficult as solving a Rubik’s cube; changing one aspect may affect the environment in a major way. The course addresses the complexities of our food system and the future of the food movement by exploring the intersections between food and culture, science, agriculture, health, and economics and the city. It will help participants in the course to understand the structure of the food system and their personal role within it. The course’s aim is that each student develops an understanding of food-systems at various scales, analysing issues surrounding Indian and global food culture and how this understanding can be applied to solution building through design and policy. The lectures and discussions will extend to multiple disciplines such as urban planning, design, ecology, architecture, policy and innovations, in order to build a true understanding of legality, goals, actors, challenges with UA and innovations.


Learning outcomes. Students will be able to:

_Understand the organisation of a global food system that links the production and consumption of food; particularly how it generates abundance for some and famine for others.
_Acquire understanding alternative narratives to the current responses to social problems regarding food system.
_Learn the major themes in food movements and develop critical analysis and understanding of the subject from different perspectives.
_Develop skills in research as a part of assignment.
_Apply their understanding in design of projects related to the theme.

Weekly plan

Week 1- Meet the Food system + Food and the city connect
The lecture introduces students to the food system. Students will map out all of the food system’s interconnected parts, consider their own relationship to the food system, and explore how it developed into the industrialised model we know today.

Week 2-  Farm, Food Processing and Food chains
Explores how our food—from plants to animal products —is grown, harvested, processed, and distributed. Students will examine conventional industrial practices, will look at the history of Green revolution, its impact, will look at the introduction of genetic modification, and it will introduce the topic of hunger. Policies that drive all these issues will be discussed.

Week 3- Consumer and Community
This lecture examines how the food system affects consumers and communities. It explores the science of food processing, food addictions and considers the impact both have on human health and the environment. Once food is produced, factors such as marketing, labelling, socio-economic status, and government policy influence what food people are able to eat and how it impacts their health, health of the society and the environment.

Week 4- The historical development of sustainable food movements and case study of Cuba
Discuss the development of alternative food systems, marketing systems, farmers markets, community gardens, and community supported agriculture

Week 5- Site visit to Farm

Week 6- Mid-sem discussion

Week 7- Productive and performative landscapes + case study and master plan of  Detroit
This lecture will discuss the benefits, challenges of productive landscape within city. It will introduce how contemporary typologies of landscape design can generate resources and benefit community.

Week 8- Ecosystem services: challenges, tradeoffs and synergies- Mangroves, Bees, Oysters
This lecture will discuss the provisioning, regulating, and cultural ecosystem services that can be delivered and disturbed by urban agriculture and their effects across local, regional, and global scales through resource supply chains.

Week 9- Policy of UA (Global, India and City) + Food System
Movie: Nero’s guest

Week 10- Projects around the world: Grassroots and Contemporary
Discussion on policy implementation in Accra, Ghana, reflecting on potential and limitations of UA.

Week 11- Individual/ Group discussion or site visit 

Week 12- Finding presentation by students through a photo essay or booklet. 

Recommended books
Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives By Carolyn Steel
The Big Ratchet: by Ruth DeFries
Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison, Reny Mia Slay
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
The Natural Way of Farming by Masanobu Fukuoko
The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoko
Food City by C J Lim
Integrated Forest Gardening by by Bryce Ruddock, Daniel Halsey, Wayne Weiseman
Jungle Trees of Central India by Pradip Krishen
Food in Society by Peter Atkins and Ian Bowler
Safe Food – The politics of food safety – Marion Nestle
Food and Culture – A reader
Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss
Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel 

Bringing the Food Economy Home
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
The Grocers by Andrew Seth and Geoffrey Randall 

The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz
Bet the farm by Frederick Kaufman
Squeezed by Alissa Hamilton
Against the Grain by James C Scott
Geopolitics and the Green Revolution by John H Perkins
The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzher
Oneness vs 1% by Vandana Shiva
Monsanto Paper by Carey Gilliam
Less is More: How Degrowth will save the world by Jason Hicke
Food is Different by Peter M Rosset  
Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
Mandatory reading
List of Movies/ Documentaries 
  1. Wall E
  2. The Lorax
  3. Fed Up
  4. Supersize me 
  5. Food that makes billions – Breakfast cereals, Yoghurt and water 
  6. A Place at the table 
  7. In Defence of Food 
  8. Seed the untold story
  9. Seeds of Freedom
  10. Who killed the honey bee
  11. Globesity 
  12. Dark Side of Chocolate 
  13. Sugar Coated 
  14. Black Gold 
  15. Economics of Happiness 
  16. Story of Stuff
  17. Edible Cities 
  1. Ground Reality 
  2. Down to Earth
  3. Civil Eats
  4. A growing culture 
  5. Mother Jones
  6. Food politics
  7. Raj Patel’s blog
  8. Food Tank
  9. Tasting the future 
  10. Local Futures
Ted Talks 
  1. Jamie Oliver – Teach every child about food 
  2. Birke Baehr: What’s Wrong with Our Food System?
  3. Tristram Stuart: The Global Food Waste Scandal
  4. Britta Riley: A Garden in My Apartment
  5. Pam Warhurst: How we can eat our landscapes
  6. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Danger of a single story
  7. Anna Lappe: The empathy of food 
  8. Loren Cardeli – Changing our food system starts with changing our views 
  9. Aaron Huey- America’s native prisoners of war
  10. Joel Salatin- Thinking about soil
  11. Roger Dorion – A subversive plot
  12. Ron Finley- Gangster Gardner 
  13. Carolyn Steel – How food shapes our cities 
Instagram Pages
  1. A Growing Culture -agrowingculture
  2. Dr. Mark Hyman – drmarkhyman
  3. Thefoodbabe
  4. Storyofstuff
  5. Navdanyainternational
  6. Afsafrica
  7. Villagesquareindia
  8. Centreforfoodsafety
  9. Vikalpsangam
  10. Landartcollective
  11. Ramoo.csa
  12. Foodfirstorg
  13. Democracynow
  14. Rodaleinstitute
  15. Foodprintorg
  16. Green_humour
  17. Extinctionrebellion 
  18. Civileats
  19. Atree