Category Archives: Uncategorized

Human language families

We have talked about our family tree in terms of how we are related to chimpanzees and other great apes.  We can apply the same concept to thinking about the relationship between different language families.   This graphic from is a helpful representation of both diversity and relatedness!  One application of this concept is called “Glottochronology”, where the relatedness of languages is used to think about human migrations in the past; the maps in the center of this graphic show the complementarity of linguistic research and historical documentation and archaeology.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Raw cabbage isolated on whiteIf you want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a culturally appropriate manner, you can head to the Irish Times Pub, recently voted best Irish Pub outside of Ireland.  You can enjoy a pint and think about St. Patrick, who similarly slacked his thirst after driving the snakes from Ireland (or the pagans, depending on your interpretation of the story!).  If you want to cook an Irish meal at home, consider including potatoes and cabbage.  This article from Modern Farmer explain why!

Consumer power, and the power of Chicken McNuggets

How timely.  Just last night we were talking about the economic clout of Macdonald’s that has helped shape our modern industrial food reality.  Here is an example of how that economic power can be part of beneficial change.  Consumer and public health lobby groups have been raising the concern of rampant antibiotic use in factory farms (remember the statistic that suggests 80% of antibiotics sold in the US are used prophylactically for food animals!).  Now Macdonald’s has announced that they will move towards purchasing only antibiotic-free chicken.  In a bid to compete, other major industry players are pressured to follow suit.  Of course, the motivations are not 100% altruistic; Macdonald’s is trying to woo young, affluent diners concerned about these issues (and their stock price today saw a bump up as a result already!), but this kind of change will have major consequences in our industrial food system.  We have to keep up the fight!  This Reuter’s news article offers a nice summary.

For more information about the use and consequences of using antibiotics in the commercial chicken industry, check out this National Geographic article from the March 2015 issue.  Their infographic does a great job of summarizing key points.

Celebrate Jewish Purim March 3-4 2015

How to Make Perfect Hamantaschen - Recipes and Tips for Dough, Fillings, Folding and Shaping by Tori Avey

How appropriate for ANTH 204; tonight we will be talking about food and ritual and just about the time that many Jewish people in our community will be celebrating Purim, a time of feasting and merrymaking, and eating hamantashen.  These three-cornered pastries are filled with poppy seeds, chocolate, or fruit preserves, and are enjoyed at home and given as gifts (parts of gift baskets called mishloach manot given to friends and prospective new friends).  Pop in to Bubby Rose’s bakery to try one, or try baking them for yourself: this recipe looks straightforward and delicious.  If you make them, I want to hear about it!

ANTH 204 study question about food and identity

As you all busily study for the upcoming midterm, I have been asked to make this identity question from a powerpoint easier to find.  Fair enough, it was kind of buried on the ANTH 204 page.  Here it is, more something to think about than anything.  FYI, this question is not on the exam, although it should help you think about the content we covered with respect to food and identity construction/representation.

•In challenging and rejecting sexism, imperialism, cruelty, greed, environmental destruction and the complicit endorsement of Western corporate power, punks believe that mainstream N. American food perpetuates a violent and unjust society.  To what extent may we agree or disagree with this statement as we reflect very honestly on our own food choices?

In honour of Chocolate Week….

If you have some spare time and an interest in chocolate, here are a bunch of articles that you will find interesting.  Curated by the Smithsonian, they include: a medicinal history of chocolate, the economics of chocolate, chocolate in space,  an evaluation of the recent drinking chocolate craze (which ANTH 204 students know is actually more of a return to chocolate’s roots) , even the physics of what makes good chocolate.  Truly something for everyone.  Enjoy, and tell me what you are reading!  And as if we need more examples of the connection between chocolate and power, here is a great one: Hershey’s has just inked a sweet deal that prevents the importation of British made Cadbury’s chocolate bars into the US.  Curious?  Read on

Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables

Let’s bring this food movement to Victoria, and challenge ourselves to waste less food by buying less than perfect produce.  OK, I’m not suggesting that you be a martyr and buy the mushy, moldering fruit (not that you can, it is pulled from store shelves long before it gets that that point, part of the issue!).  But think critically about what we have come to expect and demand as consumers, and how this contributes to the $31 billion dollars of food wasted in Canada last year.

Indigenous archaeology in action

A new exhibit opens this week in three location in Vancouver, telling the story of the Musquem peoples and c əsnaʔəm, an important village site also known as the Marpole midden (under the Fraser Arms hotel near the Arthur Laing bridge in south Vancouver).  the exhibit is a great example of collaboration between museums and indigenous community members and reflects indigenous archaeology in a powerful way.  This Globe and Mail article is an interesting overview of the exhibit, which is an outcome of what initially was a very confrontational incident between a developer and the Museum community who was opposed to development on this important village and cemetery site.