The current media landscape is rife with demonstrations and celebrations of local/adapted foods. This popularity has been accentuated during the COVID era because people in general, and college students, are obligated to be home. The cross-disciplinary authors from the Communication field have harnessed the powers of popular media programs of high interest, for academic lessons. We examine ethnic identity(ies), food as symbolic transmitter of culture(s), food communicating/indicating cultural heritage, food re-appropriation vs. appreciation, the politics of food harvesting, and access to healthy food. We have found that university students welcome an uncommon learning approach, and that they have the opportunity to better engage with family, and others. Our strategies and teaching examples are from a small private and a large public university (first year–senior). We have a multi-step approach using accessible/entertaining television segments for discussion and related readings (what is culture, food as culture, why cooking is used for group competitions and individual fame) and move toward more challenging conversations about cultural authenticity, geography, colonialism, social class and consumption, and climate change and hunger. This presentation provides roadmaps, strategies, names of online episodes, discussion questions, and assignments that allow the learner to engage elders regarding heritage dishes and meanings/identities, cook a basic dish and discuss personal, academic, political, or geographic significance. High production quality programs and documentaries enhance visual experiences. The general umbrella of communication is useful to all with interests in symbolic processes. We would like to share our successes.
Mary Helen Millham, University of Hartford, United States
Diana Rios, University of Connecticut, United States