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SOC 2080 Lecture Notes - Pepsico, Macdonald Tobacco, Populism

Course Code
SOC 2080
Anthony Winson

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Week 1 01/09/2014
The Inimate Commodity
Marvin Harris: ‘ What is good to eat is good to sell’ commodification of food in capitalist era
Concepts of political economy
Use value- is it unique?
Ex// Hammer- you could use a rock to hammer a nail, but a hammer will do a much better job. Therefore
the hammer comes with a unique value
And exchange value?
The exchange value on hammers has gone down because of numerous factors. I.e they are now made in
History/anthropology of food
Corn and the Mayan mythology
Rice and eastern cultures
Do certain foods still occupy a privileged place in Canadian society?
Food , Status, and Inequality
Foods in medieval Europe
The lords of the lands controlled the animals on their lands and you would get your head cut off if you tried
to poach some of it.
Hindu caste culture: “a person acceptable for the table is acceptable for the marriage bed”
If someone was invited to family tables, it would be assumed they were suitable for a marriage partner or
else they wouldn’t be invitied
Foods/dietary inequalities today: nationally and internationally
Who gets to eat what, where- Canada
Food “aid” and dietary transformation: case of American wheat and Public law 480

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Law 480- wheat exportation internationally
hoped it would promote the American economy
free trade and food: Case of Mexico- argo exports and corn imports
who gains, who loses?
Food: Dimension of Production
What is unique about the production of food vs. other commodities?
Special place of the farm and farming as site of production in our culture
Historical importance of agrarians
The agro-food complex: wy?
$ values of inputs and porcessing10X value of farm output by 1970’s
how is it organized?
How did it get this way ?
The question of power: what is it, who has it, what are their objectives, how are they exercising power, and
what are the main consequences for society
reality of asymmetrical power relationships
history and holism
The Rise of Agrarianism:
Clearing land of first nations peoples
Broken treaties and pressures of settlement
Destruction of the buffalo, war and genocide in the U.S

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Resistance, mass starvation and capitulation
The N.A of Bison: Mainstay of the people of the Great Plains
The Canadian Context
1878 Sir John A. MacDonals government issue settlement of the west, they built a railroad to the pacific
( the American threat) and issued tariffs national policy
Why tariffs?
Dominion lands act: quarter section for a nominal fee
Creating the CPR: 25 million acres land grant, 20 year monopoly $ grant (scandal)
Settlement delayed: U.S more attractive, expensive transport, CPR monopoly, climate
Chief Poundmaker in Saskatchewan was negotiating Treaty Six with Government of Canada
When offered some land for farming:
Poundmaker protested: “this is our land! It isn’t a piece of pemmican to be cut off and given in little pieces
back to us
The marquis of wheat story
Red fiife variety dominant, but late maturing
Charles saunders crossed Hard Red Calcuta with Red Fife
Eventually produced the Marquis (1907) early maturing variety with high gluten content- excellent for
By 1918 marquis planted on 20 million acres
Helped Canada establish as premier wheat exporting country
The turnaround: U.S land all filled up making saskatchewans population going from 91,000 in 1900 to
920,000 in 1930.
Early Agrarian Organization in the East:
Inspiration of American grain farmers with National grange of the Patrons of Husbandry
Dominion Grange (1870’s) in London, Ontarion Mild agrarian populism.
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