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Professional Development and Enrichment Programs

food for thoughtThursday evenings in APRIL

What’s the Big Idea? Spring 2015
Food for Thought

Join us for four evenings of lectures in April as four distinguished UNC-Chapel Hill researchers present their findings on food history, culture, sustainability, and regulation, from local, regional, and global perspectives.

Thursdays, April 9, 16, 23, and 30, 7–8:30 pm, at the Friday Center.
Fees: $10 per session or the entire series for $30. 

Food for thought

The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region

Thursday, April 9, 7-8:30 pm, Course #3226

Marcie Cohen Ferris tells a richly illustrated story of southern food and the struggles of whites, blacks, and Native Americans to control the nourishment of their bodies and minds, livelihoods, lands, and citizenship. Ferris delves deeply into how food was experienced in colonial settlements and antebellum plantations, New South cities and Civil Rights-era lunch counters, counterculture communes and nationally famous restaurants. She shows how food—as cuisine and as commodity, along with its attendant social, cultural, and economic processes—both influenced and expressed in ways small and large the key historical events that shaped southern identity.

Marcie Cohen Ferris is an associate professor in the Department of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she directs the Southern studies concentration. Ferris’ research and teaching interests include southern history and culture—particularly the foodways and material culture of the American South, the history of the Jewish South, and American Jewish identity and culture. From 2006-2008, Ferris served as president of the board of directors of the Southern Foodways Alliance. Before her January 2015 appointment as an editor for Southern Cultures, a quarterly journal of the history and cultures of the U.S. South, Ferris served as guest editor for three special issues on food (winter 2009, summer 2012, spring 2015). Ferris’ Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South (UNC Press, 2005) was nominated for a 2006 James Beard Foundation Award. She is co-editor of Jewish Roots in Southern Soil: A New History (University Press of New England, 2006). In Ferris’ current book, The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region (UNC Press, 2014), the contradiction between the realities of fulsomeness and deprivation, privilege and poverty in southern history resonate in the region’s food traditions, both beloved and maligned. Ferris is currently team-teaching “Carolina Cooks, Carolina Eats,” a multi-tiered project of teaching, research, publication, and service at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Sustainable Local Food Systems and Better Health: Is There a Link?

Thursday, April 16, 7-8:30 pm, Course #3227

Local food has become very trendy. There are plenty of good arguments in favor of the local food movement, many regarding protecting the environment and a way of life for small farmers. But does everybody benefit from the local food movement, and will it really impact our health? We will discuss the broad implications of local sustainable food systems for community health and how all members of the community can benefit. We will also discuss specific strategies regarding ways that communities can move toward sustainability with their food systems, and what is currently happening in the Triangle area.

Alice Ammerman, is a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (a CDC Prevention Research Center or PRC). Her research focuses on the design, testing, implementation, and dissemination of innovative clinical and community-based nutrition and physical activity intervention approaches for chronic disease risk reduction in primarily low income and minority populations. Dr. Ammerman has strong research and practice collaborations across the state and with PRC research networks across the country. She is also Co-PI of the Center for Training and Research Translation, charged with identification, translation, and dissemination of evidence-based interventions for obesity and cardiovascular disease control and prevention. Current research interests focus on behavioral economics, school nutrition, the interface between healthy food access and sustainable local food systems, and social entrepreneurship as an approach to addressing public health concerns.

Our Global Food System and Our Health: Self-regulation or Not—The Tale of the US vs. Latin America

Thursday, April 23, 7-8:30 pm, Course #3228

This session will address the major causes and global dynamics of obesity, with a focus on our US and global food system. This is because most of our hope for prevention of obesity and all the diet-related non-communicable diseases are focusing for practical reasons on changing what we eat and drink. The food system has changed dramatically over the past century and today is controlled by a very new set of actors. We will discuss briefly some of the major US voluntary and regulatory efforts and then focus on the dramatic attempts countries globally, particularly in Latin America, are making to prevent obesity and improve our health.

Barry M. Popkin, is the W. R. Kenan, Jr. distinguished professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has a PhD in agricultural economics and established the division of nutrition epidemiology at UNC and later established and ran the UNC Interdisciplinary Obesity Center, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He has developed the concept of the Nutrition Transition, the study of the dynamic shifts in dietary intake and physical activity patterns and trends and obesity and other nutrition-related non-communicable diseases. His research program focuses globally on understanding the shifts in stages of the transition and programs and policies to improve the population health linked with this transition. He has received a number of major awards for his global contributions, including: Gopalan Award, India; UK Rank Science Prize; U.S. Kellogg Prize for Outstanding International Nutrition Research; and The Obesity Society Mickey Stunkard Lifetime Achievement Award. He has published over 460 refereed journal articles, is one of the most cited nutrition scholars in the world, and is the author of The World is Fat (2009 Avery-Penguin Publishers), translated into twelve languages.

Food for All: Local and Global Perspectives

Thursday, April 30, 7-8:30 pm, Course #3229

Special session with UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor, Carol L. Folt. Chancellor Folt will give a preview of a new campus theme – “Food for All: Local and Global Perspectives” – which will launch in August 2015. This session will focus on University-wide collaboration on key issues like food security, nutrition, and food culture and history, as well as the intersection of food issues with economic stability, political stability, resource management, sustainable development, climate change and international trade. The University has chosen this theme because of the important role that food has played in our local community and region.



Each course is $10, or you can register for all four lectures for only $30. Payment must accompany registration. Make checks payable to the Friday Center.

There are four ways to register:

Online: Register online

Mail: Print out the registration form and mail it to

What's the Big Idea? Spring 2015
Campus Box 1020, The Friday Center
UNC-Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill NC 27599-1020

Fax: Print out the registration form and fax it to 919-962-5549.

Phone: Call 800-845-8640 or 919-962-2643.

If you have special needs to accommodate a motor or sensory impairment, please indicate your needs on the registration form.

UNC-Chapel Hill uses an alternative to the Social Security number called the Personal ID (PID) to aid in keeping records for students and participants. If you do not have a PID, you will be required to enter your birthdate and gender so that we can assign you a PID. We appreciate your cooperation.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is committed to equality of educational opportunity. The University does not discriminate in offering access to its educational programs and activities on the basis of race, color, gender, age, national origin, religion, creed, disability, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Cancellation and Refunds

Cancellations received in writing by April 2, 2015 will receive full refunds; this applies only to those who registered for the entire series of four (4) lectures. No refunds will be made after this date. Refunds cannot be given for individual lectures.


Lectures are held at the Friday Center, which offers ample free parking. The Friday Center is located approximately three miles east of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, just off Highway 54 East (Raleigh Road). The Center is a short distance from Interstate 40 (from Raleigh, I-40 exit 273A; from Greensboro, I-40 exit 273). See Map and Directions to the Friday Center.


For information, contact:

Jill Conrad (, Program Facilitator
Professional Development and Enrichment Programs
The Friday Center
800-845-8640 or 919-962-2643

Past topics for What's the Big Idea?

  • Materials of the Future
  • Energy and the Environment
  • The Human Being in 2050
  • The Science of Evolution
  • Genetics, Ethics, and Human Health
  • We the People: Democracy in America
  • Pandemics, Infectious Diseases, and Public Policy
  • Global Climate Change: Challenges and Options in North Carolina and Beyond
  • Here Today...Here Tomorrow? Sustaining Precious Resources for Our Future
  • Extreme Space Above and Below
  • Nanotechnology: Big Ideas About Tiny Matter
  • Exploring the Human Brain
  • Water In Our World
  • Exploring the Human Brain—More Big Ideas!
  • Medical Mysteries
  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Its Role in Twenty-First-Century Health Care
  • Future Vision: Survival Tactics for Our Changing Environment