Integrative Biology 24, Section 1

Ethnobiology, Nutrition, and Global Food Systems (1 unit, P/NP)

Professor Thomas Carlson
Wednesday 10:00-11:00, 4110 Valley Life Sciences Building, Class number: 25106

We will explore the ethnobiological systems around the world that generate thousands of different species of plants and animals eaten by humans. We will examine the historical, cultural, commercial, and biological factors that have resulted in the worldwide consumption of certain plant and animal species. We will also compare the nutritional qualities, health effects, and carbon footprint of conventional industrial food, organic food, locally grown food, and food that is hunted or gathered. In this seminar we will read Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma and view the documentary film Food Inc.

Instructor Bio

Thomas Carlson is a physician and ethnobotanist who is on the faculty of the Department of Integrative Biology and is Curator of Ethnobotany in the University and Jepson Herbarium at the University of California, Berkeley. He has conducted food plant and medicinal plant research with, and provided medical care for, over forty different ethno-linguistic groups in fifteen different countries in South America, Central America, North America, Africa, Asia, and Pacific Islands. Tom’s multidisciplinary work with diverse institutions, biocultural environments, and communities has helped illuminate how local indigenous ethnobotanical systems contribute to human health and ecosystem health.

Faculty web site:


Any interested Freshmen are welcome.