Monday, September 23, 2013

Christine Rogers: Why doesn’t Stanford have a food science program?

Why doesn’t Stanford have a food science program?

With society’s growing focus on the sustainable food/farming movement and the rising concern over America’s the obesity problem, nutrition and sustainable food are on the forefront of what’s happening in America today. Yet Stanford, a university renowned for its widespread areas of academic focus and research opportunities, has no solid food science program to address these issues.

Stanford is part of the way there. They have a Human Nutrition concentration for the HumBio major. There is the Stanford Farm where several classes get hands-on experience while learning about agriculture or sustainable farming. There is even a proposed Helix course (an interdisciplinary program of 3-4 courses that center around one focus) that centers on food.
That’s a good start, but it isn’t enough. The Helix course is close to a solid program, but you cannot pursue it as a major and for some, especially people in intense majors with high unit requirements, it would be next to impossible to pursue alongside a major. There is no one program that encompasses both sustainable farming/food and nutrition, and none that I have been able to find that focus substantially on the chemistry of cooking (which is what I love).
Obviously I am a little biased on the subject, as someone who is passionate about cooking and food science and who would love Stanford to create some sort of program, major, or even a minor about food science. But maybe that’s just what Stanford needs: people who are passionate enough about the topic to bring the problem to light. Maybe I’ll follow John Etchemendy’s lead and create a new major that encompasses all of those things. Who knows, only time will tell.

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