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Director and Faculty

Polly Adema Headshot

Polly Adema, PhD | Director | CV

Polly Adema is a culinary anthropologist and folklorist. She earned her PhD in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and her MA from the Folklife Institute at Indiana University, Bloomington. Prior to joining Food Studies she was director of the Folk Arts Program at Arts Mid-Hudson, a nonprofit arts organization serving three New York counties; she also maintained an active consulting business doing research, writing, and presentations for food industry trade and professional organizations on food and culture topics. She is actively involved in a number of national and international professional organizations.  Polly is the author of Garlic Capital of the World: Gilroy, Garlic, and the Making of a Festive Foodscape, the definitive book-length study of California's Gilroy Garlic Festival. 

Ken Albala Headshot

Ken Albala, PhD | Chair | Introduction to Food Studies | CV

Ken Albala is Professor of History and Chair of the Food Studies MA program in San Francisco. He has authored or edited 23 books on food including Eating Right in the Renaissance, Food in Early Modern Europe, Cooking in Europe 1250-1650, The Banquet, Beans (winner 2008 IACP Jane Grigson Award), Pancake, Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food and Nuts: A Global History. He was co-editor of the journal Food, Culture and Society and has also co-edited The Business of Food, Human Cuisine, Food and Faith and edited A Cultural History of Food: The Renaissance and The Routledge International Handbook of Food Studies. Albala was editor of the Food Cultures Around the World series, the 4-volume Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia and the 3-volume Sage Encyclopedia of Food Issues published in 2015. He is also series editor of Rowman and Littlefield Studies in Food and Gastronomy for which wrote Three World Cuisines (winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards best foreign cuisine book in the world for 2012). He has also co-authored two cookbooks: The Lost Art of Real Cooking and The Lost Arts of Hearth and Home. His latest works are a Food History Reader and a translation of the 16th century Livre fort excellent de cuysine. His course Food: A Cultural Culinary History is available on DVD from the Great Courses. In the fall 2015 his At the Table: Food and Family Around the World will the published. He is now working on a book about noodle soups.

Dr. Alison Alkon

Alison Alkon, PhD | Associate Professor | Sociology of Food, Food Justice | CV

Alison Alkon, Associate Professor earned her PhD at UC Davis and is the author/editor of two books and numerous articles exploring environmental, economic and social aspects of sustainable food systems. Her co-edited volume, Cultivating Food Justice, is currently in its second printing from MIT Press and is quickly becoming the default text for undergraduate and graduate courses investigating how racial and economic inequalities affect food and agricultural systems. Her recently released monograph, Black White and Green: Farmers Markets, Race and the Green Economy, focuses on two Bay Area Farmers Markets, one predominantly black and the other predominantly white, to better understand the cultural meanings that communities apply to and use to understand food and agriculture. Her articles on related topics have appeared in top social science journals including Antipode, Sociological Inquiry and City and Community. She is based in the Bay Area and has numerous connections to community-based organizations and think-tanks working on food and agricultural reform. Her book, Black White and Green, was recently the subject of a lengthy essay in the Huffington Post. Alison's next edited volume, The New Food Activism, will be published by UC Press in 2017, and her current project examines the effects of gentrification on food activism in Oakland. 

Michelle Branch Headshot

Michelle Branch, PhD | Research Methods in Food Studies | CV

Michelle Branch has a PhD in United States History from the University of California, Berkeley and a JD from Stanford Law School. She is a member of the California Bar and has advised numerous respected organizations, including Google, Twilio, and the Government of Tuvalu. As a board member, she has served several Bay Area social justice organizations, including City Slicker Farms urban farm and La Cocina incubator kitchen. For the last several years, Michelle has taught as a visiting faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley and at NYU Law School. While a graduate student at Berkeley, Michelle designed and taught one of the country's first seminars on food history. She has written in the emerging area of food law, in particular at the intersection of public health, municipal governance, and environmental studies. She thinks about how markets and governments regulate food consumption. She also wonders how we might redesign our current food system to improve access and health for all. 

Eric Holt-Gimenez

Eric Holt-Giménez, PhD | Food Activism | CV
Of Basque and Puerto Rican heritage, Eric grew up milking cows and pitching hay in Point Reyes, where he learned that putting food on the table is hard work. He studied rural education and biology at the University of Oregon and Evergreen State College, and earned an MSc in International Agricultural Development from University of California at Davis and a PhD in Environmental Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Eric has taught Development Studies at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, Boston University and the National Gastronomic University in Pollenzo, Italy. Since 2006, Eric has been Executive Director of Food First, an action-centered think tank that works to end the injustices that cause hunger. He is the editor of the Food First book Food Movements Unite! Strategies to Transform Our Food Systems; co-author of Food Rebellions! Crisis and The Hunger for Justice with Raj Patel and Annie Shattuck; author of the book Campesino a Campesino: Voices from Latin America's Farmer to Farmer Movement for Sustainable Agriculture; and many academic, magazine and news articles. Prior to working at Food First, he served as the Latin America Program Manager for the Bank Information Center (BIC) in Washington DC. 

Alice McLean

Alice McLean, PhD | Food and Literature, Food Writing | CV

Alice McLean, PhD in English, specializes in food writing and feminist food studies. She has authored books on Aesthetic Pleasure in Twentieth-Century Women's Food Writing (Routledge, 2012); Cooking in America, 1840-1945 (Greenwood Press, 2006); and Asian American Food Culture (Greenwood Press, 2015). In addition to books on culinary literature and American food culture, McLean writes books reviews and essays on food studies scholarship. Her most recent essay "The Taste of Pleasure: A Review of Relational Ethics in 21st-Century Gastronomic Scholarship" appears in The Aristologist, No. 4In addition to her research and writing, McLean has created and taught a range of food studies seminars including Culinary Voyages; Food, Language, and the Imagination; Revolutionary Movements in the Edible Arts; Food, Sex, Pleasure in Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Film; and Eating Bodies, Consuming Cultures

Erika Peters

Erica J. Peters, PhD | Local Food History: A Case Study of San Francisco | CV

Erica J. Peters is the director of the Culinary Historians of Northern California, which she co-founded in 2004. She is the author of San Francisco: A Food Biography (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013) and Appetites and Aspirations in Vietnam: Food and Drink in the Long Nineteenth Century (AltaMira, 2012) and is the co-editor of "Food in French History," a special issue of the journal French Historical Studies (Spring 2015). Peters received her bachelor's degree in history and literature from Harvard University and her doctorate in history from the University of Chicago. She has taught at Stanford University, Santa Clara University, San Francisco State University, and the University of Maryland University College. She has published numerous articles on the history of food and drink and has presented at conferences across the United States and abroad. Peters lives in Mountain View, California.  

Analiese Head Shot

Analiese Richard, PhD | Associate Professor | Anthropology of Food, Food and Environment | CV

Analiese Richard is Associate Professor of Anthropology and International Studies at University of the Pacific. She has been awarded the Fulbright Garcia-Robles Scholarship for 2015-2016.  Dr. Richard received her doctorate from UC Berkeley in 2005. She is the author of various journal articles, chapters, and a book, The Unsettled Sector: NGOs and the Cultivation of Democratic Citizenship in Rural Mexico  on the themes of rural livelihoods, food sovereignty, environmental citizenship, and the world of non-governmental organizations in Latin America. She is currently collaborating with colleagues of the Intercontinental Research Network on Informality in the Metropolis to produce an interdisciplinary book on environmental risk and the modern state. She has also begun a new research project on biotechnology, moral authority and the role of scientists in public life in North America, which she will pursue this year as a Visiting Researcher at the Center for North American Studies (CISAN) at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City.

Weiden Head Shot

Wendy Weiden, MPA | The Business of Food | CV

Wendy Weiden is a food systems expert with a focus on using multi-sector strategies and collaboration to fuel innovation. She has worked with a diverse set of clients to develop, launch, and support sustainable, financially viable programs and products. Wendy works as the West Coast-based consultant for the nationally renowned food systems consultancy, Karen Karp & Partners as well as independently. Her work is varied; recent projects include a prepared food recovery and redistribution strategy analysis for Second Harvest Food Bank of San Mateo & Santa Clara Counties; leading the visioning, business planning, and implementation of FoodShed, the innovative cafe at the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose; business planning, modeling, and pitching for Scrappy, a healthy, sustainable pet treat company; and feasibility and financial assessments for multiple healthy, sustainable retail and foodservice businesses building upon many years working in the specialty and retail food sectors. Her passion lies with exploring the intersection of economic, social, and health benefits that come from healthier, more robust regional food networks. In additional to her consulting work, Wendy is an adjunct faculty member at Presidio Graduate School, where she developed and teaches a class on "Intersectoral Innovation in the Food System" and the innovative "Market Failures and the Regulatory Environment," both of which focus on multi-sector strategies to solve systemic social, environmental, and economic problems. Wendy has a BA from Harvard University and an MPA from Presidio Graduate School.