This page can be found at http://journalism.uoregon.edu/~jrussial/j463/
309C Hall 346-3750
Office hours: Tues 10-11, Wed, 1-2:30. Or by appointment, or drop by. I'm around quite a bit.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Note, browsers often need to be set up to use this type of e-mail link. If you're not sure how to do that, you can cut and paste the address into the address field of an e-mail program.
The course is a broad-based exploration of writing about food. Good food writing depends on good reporting, and this class will focus on both reporting and writing.
The possibilities for stories are almost endless. In this region alone, you can find fascinating trends involving farm-to-table movements, winegrowing and winemaking, amateur and professional brewing, artisan production of cheese, meats, and other foods, home gardening, etc. There are trends, such as community supported agriculture (CSAs), community gardens and food activism. There are stories about work in the food trades and industries--profiles of chefs, cooks, innovators and growers.
Writers can look at food from such diverse perspectives as culture, politics, commerce and science. Food is a business for many and a career for some. Stories about food range from quick-hit pieces about a new restaurant in town or a new food entrepreneur to multi-part, long-form series that examine issues involving food production, consumption and safety. Several of these have won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism. For example, Richard Reed of The Oregonian won a Pulitzer in 1999 for a series called The French Fry Connection, which looked at the journey of potatoes from fields in the Northwest to French fries in an Asian McDonald's restaurant as an example of the interconnected global economy.
To explore some of these areas, I'm planning to bring in visitors and have Skype interviews with folks involved in different aspects of food. I'm not seeing this as a class primarily about restaurant reviewing, though that might be a small part of it. I'm expecting students to be writing a variety of stories.
In this class you should develop:
I've taught this class several times, but the class is always a work in progress. Your suggestions about what aspects of food writing you're interested in will help make the class a success. Also, if you have ideas about interesting people to talk with, let me know
Attendance is important. Classes will be a mix of discussion of readings and issues, including discussions and interviews with with visitors, and review of stories. If you are going to miss a class, I need to know in advance. If I do not find out before the class, it may affect your evaluation grade.
There will be a mix of assignments, including, most likely, a short profile, a story about ethnic food and cultural connections, a story about a food trend and a food issue-piece. Most assignments will be short (2-3 pages). The last assignment will be a longer story (4-5 pages).
Grades will primarily be based on stories written. Twenty percent of the grade is based on class participation and attendance. Class participation includes being prepared for discussion and taking an active role in asking questions of visitors. One unexcused absence won't count against you, but more than one will. Grading will be based on criteria of publishability, similar to the criteria used in any reporting or writing course. Examples include accuracy, completeness, focus, grammar, punctuation, etc.
Some Important Information:Accessibility:
Here is a statement from the Dean of Students office on academic
The University Student Conduct Code (available at conduct.uoregon.edu) defines academic misconduct. Students are prohibited from committing or attempting to commit any act that constitutes academic misconduct. By way of example, students should not give or receive (or attempt to give or receive) unauthorized help on assignments without express permission from the instructor. Students should properly acknowledge and document all sources of information (e.g. quotations, paraphrases, ideas). If there is any question about whether an act constitutes academic misconduct, it is the student's obligation to clarify the question with the instructor before committing or attempting to commit the act. Additional information about a common form of academic misconduct, plagiarism, is available at Additional information about a common form of academic misconduct, plagiarism, is available on the UO library website.
In this class, what this means in practice is that you do your own work, except for any assignment that I announce may be done by a group. Most, possibly all, assignments will be done as individual projects. It also means that you don't use other published work in your stories without proper attribution.
Note the word tentative
Week 1: (Sept. 29, Oct. 1)
Thursday: Food writing as reporting, types of food stories, food terminology,
Several short food stories--shows some of the range:
Week 2: (Oct. 6, 8)
Tuesday--profiles and sketches
Thursday: Skype interview with a cook, who also happens to be my daughter.
Week 3: (Oct. 13, 15)
Discuss profiles; Profiling a food, a vegetable, a fruit?
Going to the source
From Best Food Writing:
A few short articles on describing food
Week 4: (Oct. 20, 22)
Food and Culture Tastes of Home, ethnic foods, holidays
What food means to people from different cultures and places
Week 5: (Oct. 27, 29)
The restaurant trade Cooking as a career, culinary education
Food as a business, the shift to catering and other specializations
Possible field trip to LCC culinary program
From Best Food Writing:
Week 6: (Nov. 3, 5)
Wine, beer, etc.
A growing option, but not an easy career.
The science of food production--the chemistry of beer-making, winemaking and whiskey. Trends: Home brewing and wine-making
From R.W. Apple:
Week 7: (Nov. 10, 12)
Food, science and politics, trends
Genetically modified crops--issues of intellectual property and lobbying power, monoculture and disease resistance, irradiated food, the organic movement
Readings--Pollan--The Omnivore's Dilemma--Part 1
Week 8: (Nov. 17, 19)
Local sourcing (King Estate restaurant); Artisan trends. Reaction to a large degree to the criticisms seen in the Pollan book.
Wheat farming, raising pork, cheeses, backyard chicken-raising, organic gardening, etc....
Reading--Pollan, (Part 2)
Week 9: (Nov. 24)
Cookbooks, food and health
Issues with allergies, food intolerances, (gluten, dairy) etc.
Cookbooks--What's in a cookbook?
Reading--Pollan, (Part 3)
R.W. Apple-Stalking the Wild Morel...p 109-17.
Week 10: (Dec. 1, 3)
Food writing Impact of the web, Yelp and other review sites, etc...
Lee Dean's cookbook website
Star-Tribune's food section
The United States of Thanksgiving A Thanksgiving dish for each state