North Texas Daily

Professors speak out on food at interdisciplinary seminar

Professors speak out on food at interdisciplinary seminar

October 24
23:56 2012

Andrew Freeman / Staff Writer

UNT observed Food Day, a national celebration promoting movement toward more healthy, affordable and sustainable eats, at Willis Library on Wednesday night with “UNT Speaks Out About Food,” which featured UNT professors discussing a broad topic everyone can relate to.

Visual arts and design professor Dornith Doherty and history professor Jennifer Wallach took different angles in their presentations on food.

Doherty spoke about her visits to various seed banks around the world, including one at the North Pole. These banks store rare seeds to preserve food crops and protect biodiversity. She also displayed art she had crafted from X-ray images of seeds.

Photo by: Erika Lambreton

“It is amazing how humble this [seed bank] project is,” Doherty said. “Volunteers take the time to gather seeds to send off to the North Pole.”

Wallach spoke about food habits and racial thinking, discussing how food is associated with identity in people’s minds.

“Think about how wealth is involved,” Wallach said. “Instead of beer, you drink wine. Instead of catfish, sushi.”

She talked about food and identity as it relates to Chinese culture, Mexican-American culture and African-American culture. Wallach has analyzed food and American culture in her book, “How America Eats: A Social History of U.S. Food and Culture.”

“We are adept at using the kitchen to express who we are,” she said. “Food practices can be constructed to show racial differences, and they have been.”

Wednesday’s seminar was one of several “Speaks Out” events UNT Libraries is holding this semester. Students and faculty will sound off in a seminar on student research and open access in Willis Library today at 3 p.m., and a third seminar in November will feature veterans of the Iraq War.

“We are trying to get research done with collaboration of different disciplines,” said user experience librarian Diane Wahl, who helped organize the seminar. “Sometimes faculty don’t know how much their work has in common, and it is my pleasure to bring them together.”

Wahl said she wants to use the library seminars as a medium to bring together Denton’s brightest minds.

“It’s more than to just foster collegiality,” Wahl said. “My hope is to show the Denton community what research we are doing and how it affects their lives, because it does.”
Wednesday’s presentation can be viewed at

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