Skip to content
  • Print


Polly Adema Headshot

Polly Adema, PhD | Director | 

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 Folklore 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.   

Courses include:  Food & Popular Culture, Ethnography  CV 

Ken Albala

Ken Albala, PhD 

Ken Albala has authored or edited 25 books on food including Eating Right in the RenaissanceFood in Early Modern EuropeCooking in Europe 1250-1650The 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 CuisineFood 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. 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 cuisine, and At the Table: Food and Family Around the World.  His course Food: A Cultural Culinary History is available on DVD from the Great Courses. His next cookbook Noodle Soups: Recipes, Techniques, Obsession will be in print January 2018. He is currently working on a history of aphrodisiacs and a book about walking with wine.   

Courses include:  Introduction to Food Studies, History of Food  CV 

Dr. Alison Alkon

Alison Alkon, PhD 

Alison Hope Alkon is associate professor of sociology at the University of the Pacific as well as co-founder of Pacific's graduate program in Food Studies. Her research seeks to understand how racial and economic inequalities affect communities' understandings of and efforts to create local and sustainable food systems. Her most recent book, The New Food Activism (co-edited with Julie Guthman), chronicles the evolution of the food movement from a primary focus on the creation of ethical alternatives to the adoption of collective strategies aligned with movements for social, racial and environmental justice. She is also author of Black White and Green: Farmers Markets, Race and the Green Economy, and co-editor (with Julian Agyeman) of Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class and Sustainability, which is commonly used as a textbook in graduate and undergraduate classes. Alison is currently working on two projects. The first examines the relationship between Oakland's burgeoning local food scene and gentrification, chronicling how the work of food activists and social entrepreneurs can be appropriated by realtors and other boosters to depict Oakland as a hip, thriving place to live. The second project looks at the farming practices and foodways of first and second generation Hmong Americans, investigating the cultural meanings associated with various foods. Alison is based in the Bay Area and has numerous connections to community-based organizations and think-tanks working on food and agricultural issues. 

Courses include:  Sociology of Food; Food Justice; and Thesis Project  CV

Michelle Branch Headshot

Michelle Branch, PhD 

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. 

Course includes:  Food, Law & Policy; Research Methods  CV

Rebecca Feinberg, PhD

Rebecca Feinberg is a cultural anthropologist whose interest in food studies began with her own experiences working in restaurants, on family farms, and at winery cellars. She earned her BA at Columbia University and received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she has taught Anthropology of Food and Labor in Food Systems. As part of University of California study abroad programs in Italy, she also teaches courses on ethnographic research methods and on the role of food in nationalism, identity, and contemporary politics. Rebecca is the managing editor of Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies and of Environment and Society: Advances in Research, where she curates interdisciplinary publishing for an eclectic audience, reaching beyond academic boundaries and sparking new conversations about the future of food. Her own research in Italy and California explores issues of food and wine production and consumption in a global context, highlighting the skilled and creative labor of immigrants that makes heritage landscapes and the taste of terroir possible in Italy today. Whether harvesting wine grapes with migrant workers, interviewing biodynamic farmers, or guiding students through outdoor markets, she is always keen to get to know the hands that feed us.

Course includes:  Anthropology of Food CV

Eric Holt-Gimenez

Eric Holt-Giménez, PhD

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. 

Course includes:  Political Economy of Food  CV

Stephanie Maroney

Stephanie Maroney, PhD

Stephanie Maroney is a feminist food studies and science & technology studies scholar whose Ph.D. in Cultural Studies has a designated emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research at the University of California, Davis. Her research examines how the science of the human microbiome is shaping dietary advice and producing new ways of relating to our multi-species bodies. She has published in Food and Foodways, Gastronomica, and other outlets. Through food fermentation practices, Stephanie engages in creative experiments with fellow academics, artists, practitioners, and curious folk. With training in Literature, Women & Gender Studies, and Cultural Studies, Stephanie is an interdisciplinary scholar interested in collaborative approaches to complex social problems around health inequities and civic engagement through the arts and humanities. She has pursued this work as the co-organizer of the 2017 Imagining America national conference, as a communications assistant at the UC Davis Humanities Institute and the Feminist Research Institute, as a Mellon Public Scholar at the Center for Genetics and Society in Berkeley, and through various working groups organized across the University of California system. 

Course includes:  Food, Nutrition and Human Health CV

Alice McLean

Alice McLean, PhD

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.

Courses include:  American Appetites, Food and Literature, Food Writing  CV

Erika Peters

Erica J. Peters, PhD 

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.  

Course includes: Introduction to Food Studies; Local Food History: A Case Study of San Francisco CV

Sapna Thottathil

Sapna E. Thottathil, PhD  

Sapna E. Thottathil, PhD is a first generation Indian American and the author of India's Organic Farming Revolution: What it Means for Our Global Food System. She is passionate about finding solutions to global health and environmental problems and has over 10 years of experience in environmental resource management, food and agriculture, and health and nutrition.

Sapna has worked on environmental policy and sustainable food supply chains for multiple organizations, including the Environmental Protection Agency, School Food Focus, and Health Care Without Harm, and has contributed to several articles on sustainable meat procurement, featured in Civil Eats and the American Journal of Public Health. She earned her BA from the University of Chicago, where she was awarded the Udall Scholarship for environmental leadership, before going on to receive an MSc from Oxford University and a PhD in Geography from the University of California at Berkeley, where she was the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship. She currently sits on the Board of Pesticide Action Network, serves as a Council Member for Oakland Food Policy Council, is on the National Advisory Council for the Women, Food and Agriculture Network, and is a Health Equity Expert with the Center for Global Policy Solutions. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking, identifying wildflowers and birds, and relearning how to play the piano. She is also working on another book.  Sapna lives in Oakland, California with her husband and children.

Course includes:  Food and the Environment

Weiden Head Shot

Wendy Weiden, MPA 

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, from institutions to start-up entrepreneurs, to develop, launch, and support sustainable, financially viable programs and products. 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 pet treat company using responsibly raised meat that would otherwise go unsold. Her passion lies with exploring the intersection of economic, social, and health benefits that come from healthier, more robust regional food networks. 

Wendy teaches on sustainable food and business, entrepreneurship, and the interrelationships between the public, private, and non-profit sectors at several other institutions. She has a bachelor's degree in American history and literature from Harvard College and an MPA from Presidio Graduate School, where she focused on the social and economic benefits of regional food systems.

Course includes:  The Food Industry: From Enterprise to Entrepreneur  CV