How does the food system affect what you eat

Essay Option #1

Food Diary

Hand in during class on the due date


The goal of this assignment is to better understand our eating habits, their relationship to our values, and their relation to global food systems. The food diary assignment[foot note Ref:1] asks you to individually (1) maintain a detailed record of your eating over a two-day period in a table format (2) investigate and analyze the information and (4) write an essay about the results. [1: Adapted from Joshua Muldavin’s assignment on the educational version of The Future of Food by Deborah Koons Garcia. Adaptation supported by resources from a 2008 Undergraduate Instructional Improvement Program grant from the Teaching Resources Center at UC Davis.]


Write an essay of 900-1100 words. Use any 11 pt font, 1.5 spacing, and 2.54 (1 inch) margins.

Please include the following:

· A title page with your name and FIC ID and the date

· The table showing what you ate, within the essay or as an appendix

· A reference list

· Page numbers on all pages.

· Word count at the end of the essay.

Referencing and Citations

You need to cite all your sources in the body of the essay. An essay without citations will receive a zero grade.

Do not plagiarize! Plagiarism includes copying word for word from someone else, or writing about someone’s idea without giving them credit. Plagiarism may result in a grade of zero.

Use at least 2 academic sources besides the textbook.

Use proper in-text citations and a reference list for referring to concepts from the textbook. I suggest using APA format, although MLA format is also fine.

See: for more information on citation and reference list formatting.


You will be graded on accuracy and clarity of your data set, quality of analysis, thoroughness in answering the questions, and understanding of the relevant concepts. Formatting and grammar will also be taken into account – this includes referencing, so be sure to do your citations and reference list correctly.

Detailed Instructions

1) Keep a record of your eating for two days: Choose two full days and keep a detailed list of what you eat, even beverages, using the table on the next page. Since it is difficult to recall what you ate even after one day, you are advised to keep your food diary with you and keep track as you go. You will be keeping track of not just the food you eat, but also where, and with whom (but don’t worry about measuring how much). You will also record who prepared your food and the main ingredients in it. In your table, write down the main ingredients but also note if it has artificial colors, flavors, sweetener, or preservatives? Is it organic? Does it contain genetically engineered ingredients?

2) Investigate the origin of your food: Investigate where three of the foods that you ate came from. If it is a processed product with several ingredients, just investigate the main ingredients. Find out as much as you can about the manufacturer/ producer and the geographic source of the main ingredients. To obtain this information, you are encouraged to ask the waiters or owners of the restaurants that you eat in; to examine the ingredients lists on boxes and cans; and to look up information about the product or company on the internet. You are also encouraged to email or phone the company to find out more information. Keep track of who you talk to or who you contact, the date, the method of contact, and include this information in your Reference List at the end of your essay.

3) Investigate social or environmental issues related to your food consumption: Based on the textbook, the movie Food Inc., and other relevant sources, investigate two social or environmental issues that result from your food consumption; e.g., who produces this food item (consider class, race/ethnicity, gender) and what are their working conditions? Or what are the environmental impacts of its production – e.g., was rain forest cleared to make way for its production, are pesticides and fertilizers used, and what are the effects of these practices on humans or non-humans? Use at least three sources besides textbook and movie.

Once you have all the information, you can write an essay analyzing your food consumption: Based on the information that you have in your table and from your research, write an essay that addresses the following questions:

· Where does your food come from? Is it mostly local or international? What countries is it from?

· Why do you eat what eat? Consider culture, lifestyle and your values. For example, do you eat foods from your culture? Are there any circumstances that affect your eating habits, such as income or how far away the store is? Does the type of food you eat reflect your personal values?

· How does the food system affect what you eat? i.e., what kinds of food are available, cost of food, is the food safe, how processed is it, does it have many chemical or GMO ingredients, etc.? Was it difficult to get information about the source of your food or the ingredients? Why?

· What are some impacts of your food consumption? What are two social or environmental impacts of some of the food you eat? Be specific, use references. For example, you might look at who produces your food and where it comes from, or the environmental impacts of growing rice or growing tea.



Food item Where Eaten (at home, restaurant) With whom (alone, friends, family) Prepared by whom (self, family, friend, purchased) Main Ingredients (just the main ones) Geographical origin(s) Additional Notes (preservatives, GMO, organic, etc)


Food item Where Eaten (at home, restaurant) With whom (alone, friends, family) Prepared by whom (self, family, friend, purchased) Main Ingredients (just the main ones) Geographical origin(s) Additional Notes (preservatives, GMO, organic, etc)

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