Fast Food, Hot Planet

Fast Food, Hot Planet: Sociological Approaches to Climate Change, Food Justice, and Community Sustainability is an undergraduate course at UMass Lowell. With an eye on climate change and sustainability, Fast Food/Hot Planet maps the social and historical dimensions of the crises arising from inequalities of food production and distribution.

From the palm oil that crisps our fries to the beef in our burgers, the standard American diet contributes significantly to global warming.  Fast food systems also hurt health, farmland, water supplies, and increase global food inequities. While some struggle with the health effects of over-salted, sweetened, and greasy diets, almost a billion people worldwide go to bed hungry.

Increasingly, policy makers, scholars and activists see addressing food-related inequalities as integrally related to climate justice.  Agribusiness, for instance, relies on carbon-intensive production and distribution systems. As a result, the 2014 IPCC Report stressed that slowing climate change will require vast changes in industrial and factory farming, food packaging and distribution.

Agriculture’s impact on workers, communities and environments is not a new concern. From the slavery-based sugar colonies to the drought-stricken fields of the Southwest and California, environmental sustainability has always been tied to labor and community well-being.

Fast Food, Hot Planet Research Guide is a comprehensive resource listing which traces the history and dynamics of the global food crisis, mapping ongoing policy debates, and the relation of climate justice to communities organizing for land, water, and food sovereignty.

The above illustrates the far-reaching consequences of farming practices.

With funding from the Sociology Department, students in SOCI 3300 Fast Food, Hot Planet explored green food efforts in Lowell. Here students help Mill City Grows harvest fall crops at its Big Farm in Pawtucketville. Some students participated in Mill City Grows Harvest Fair and some will continue to volunteer as individuals.  


Food and Climate Policy

Food and Climate Justice Movements

Massachusetts Organizing:

Groundbreaking programs from around the U.S.

Food justice policy groups and organizing

More resources:
Library Guide for Fast Food/Hot Planet Course

Charlotte Ryan, Sociology, UML
Charlotte Ryan, Sociology