Public Conferences and Events

The MRP conducts at least one public event each academic year. These events bring the academic expertise of its members into conversation with food, wine, and beer industry professionals and the general public.

2012 Events

Tracie McMillian: “Real Food vs. Affordable Food: Can we have both?”

Join journalist Tracie McMillan to discuss her work for The American Way of Eating, which chronicles her experience in three undercover jobs across the American food system: California farmworker, produce clerk in a Detroit-area Walmart, New York City Applebee’s kitchen wretch. Weaving policy and agricultural economics into personal narrative, McMillan explores what it would cost to grow food fairly. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 • 12:00-1:30 pm
Oakes Mural Room • UC Santa Cruz

2012 Public Event: Labor Across the Food System Public Conference, February 3-4, 2012

We spend a lot of attention on knowing where our food comes from, but give little thought to how it gets to us. On February 3-4, 2012, the Food and the Body MRP will be a proud co-sponsor of the stimulating conference “Labor Across the Food System,” a public event that brings together an impressive group of scholars, researchers, and activists from California, across the U.S., and from abroad to address this question by discussing the role of labor and social justice in reshaping the contemporary global food system, one of the most labor-intensive industries in the economy.

The conference begins with a keynote address by Frank Bardacke, a Watsonville resident who cut celery and lettuce in the fields for six years in the early 1970s, and taught English as a second language teacher for 25 years. A labor activist and scholar, Bardacke is the author of Good Liberals and Great Blue Herons: Land, Labor and Politics in the Pajaro Valley and the recently published Trampling Out the Vintage: Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers (Verso Books, 2011). The conference will continue with four panel discussions on major sectors of labor in the food system: farm labor, food processing, shipping and retail, and food service and restaurants. MRP should be well represented in the conference. Co-Director Julie Guthman is one of the conference organizers and will host several sessions, Co-Director Lissa Caldwell is slated to host the panel on food service and restaurants, and MRP members will be active participants in discussions.

Following the conference, the MRP will hold a special discussion workshop to explore further the issues raised in the conference and to consider the impact of Humanities-based approaches to studies and practices of labor.

2011 Events

2011 Public Event: Food Anxieties: A Symposium on the Question of “What to Eat”


This exciting symposium featured a thought-provoking discussion of food advice, risk and avoidance. The symposium was followed by a reception and illuminating discussion of wine with winemaker Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard. Over 80 people attended this hallmark event in March 2011.

“Counting Calories: From Logos to Practice” Colloquium at UC Davis

What is a calorie? One might say, following physics (and Wikipedia), that a calorie is 4.18400 Joules, or the amount of energy necessary to increase the heat of a gram of water by one degree Celsius. It is a big step, from this description, to the calorie that circulates in our daily lives – where, after all, it holds much more than this tiny amount of energy. Marianne de Laet, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Science, Technology, and Society and Director, Hixon Forum for Responsive Science and Engineering at Harvey Mudd College explores the cultural significance of the calorie. This event took place on Tuesday, April 19, 2011, at UC Davis as part of the Science & Technology Colloquium series and was co-sponsored by the MRP.

2010 Events

2010 Public Event: Science and the Experience of Eating and Drinking with Harold McGee

This Spring 2010 special public event featured a lecture and discussion panel with acclaimed food writer, Harold McGee. McGee was joined by Jean-Xavier Guinard, Susan Ebeler, and MRPI member, Melissa Caldwell. After McGee spoke of the creative ways science and art blend on the plate and the palate, the three commentators provided interdisciplinary food for thought that fueled a fascinating conversation moderated by MRPI member, Charlotte Biltekoff.

An Evening with Diane Kennedy

No one has done more to introduce the authentic, flavorful cuisines of Mexico than Diana Kennedy. Acclaimed as the Julia Child of Mexican cooking, Kennedy has been an intrepid, indefatigable student of Mexican foodways for more than 50 years and has published several classic books on the subject. The afternoon event included a discussion lead by Diana Kennedy, followed by a book signing of her latest book Oaxaca al Gusto. This event took place on October 2010 at UC Davis.

2009 Events

2009 Public Event: Tasting Histories Conference

The Tasting Histories conference, held in February 2009, brought one hundred and thirty people to UC Davis for the three-day event; roughly sixty of those were members of industry and the general public. This engaging conference more than met the goals we will continue to have for yearly public forums by 1) enabling MRP graduate students to present their works in progress and get feedback from food experts beyond our MRP, 2) engaging members of the general public in UC scholarship and providing a base upon which to build public interest and program support, 3) generating publicity in local and international academic journals and popular media, and 4) enabling MRP faculty members to position themselves as experts in the field for the academic, public, and industry attendees.