Gabriella Petrick ’89, associate professor of nutrition, food studies and history at George Mason University, will return to her alma mater, the College of the Holy Cross, to give a lecture titled, “Can Industrial Food Be Ethical? A Historical Perspective,” on Thursday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rehm Library, Smith Hall. The lecture, sponsored by the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture, is free and open to the public.
Petrick, who studied history and economics at Holy Cross, uses an interdisciplinary approach to explore how the development of food processing techniques over the last century has changed Americans’ diets and tastes. Her forthcoming book is titled “Industrializing Taste: Food Processing and the Transformation of the American Diet, 1900-1965.”
“The way we taste and the way we perceive flavor is influenced by what we eat and what’s provided within our society. Over time, the American diet has become more industrial, but at the same time, we’ve also developed a taste and a preference for more industrialized foods,” Petrick explains. “When you industrialize a food product, it’s not the same as fresh, and it’s inherently degraded.”
A second book project in the works on the history of taste is titled “Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter: Taste in History.” It is a global examination of the biological, as well as the social and cultural, aspects of taste and how our understanding of sensorial taste has changed over time.
In addition to her Holy Cross degree, Petrick holds a culinary degree from the Culinary Institute of America, a master’s in hospitality management from Cornell University, a master’s in the history of technology from Carnegie Mellon University, and a doctorate in the history of food processing from the University of Delaware. She is a visiting research fellow at the University of the Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy and has won many awards for her scholarship, including the Hindle Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Society for the History of Technology and a National Science Foundation Grant. She has published in the Journal of America History, Agricultural History, and History and Technology, among other journals and edited volumes.
For more on upcoming events and to find lectures online, visit www.holycross.edu/mcfarlandcenter.
About the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture:
Established in 2001 and housed in Smith Hall, the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture provides resources for faculty and course development, sponsors conferences and college-wide teaching events, hosts visiting fellows, and coordinates a number of campus lecture series. Rooted in the College’s commitment to invite conversation about basic human questions, the Center welcomes persons of all faiths and seeks to foster dialogue that acknowledges and respects differences, providing a forum for intellectual exchange that is interreligious, interdisciplinary, intercultural, and international in scope. The Center also brings members of the Holy Cross community into conversation with the Greater Worcester community, the academic community, and the wider world to examine the role of faith and inquiry in higher education and in the larger culture.
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