Charlotte Biltekoff is Associate Professor of American Studies and Food Science and Technology at the University of California Davis, where she builds bridges between scientific and cultural approaches to questions about food and health. Broadly, her work focuses on the relationships between food and culture (i.e. beliefs and values) and food and the social order (i.e. relationships between people). Her expertise centers on understanding where ideas about “good” and “bad” food come from, the social and cultural roles they play, and their political stakes.
Charlotte is the author of Eating Right in America: The Cultural Politics of Food and Health (Duke University Press, 2013), an exploration of the social and cultural dimensions of dietary advice and the changing meaning of “eating right” over the last century. She is currently working on a book about the role that scientific authority and expertise play in the U.S. food industry’s response to growing consumer concerns about the food system in general, and “processed food” in particular. The project explores how Big Food imagines its public, particularly in relation to science and technology, and considers the politics -- and anti-politics -- of science communication, transparency, and trust.
Biltekoff is also a co-PI on the The UC AFTeR Project, a multidisciplinary research project across three UC campuses examining the Bay Area Agri-Food Tech sector. Funded by NSF, the project explores the interests, principles, rhetoric, social relationships and institutional forces that are guiding the sector as a whole. It inventories the sector and – through field work, interviews and media analysis – explores the possibilities, tensions and limits that stem from applying Silicon Valley tech-driven innovation to global challenges in food and agriculture.
Biltekoff has published work in academic journals that span a wide range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary terrain, and has made cross-disciplinary collaboration a core facet of her research, teaching and service efforts.
At UC Davis she teaches classes on food and culture, as well as innovation in the food system. These include a large introductory lecture class called “Food in American Culture” that draws students from across the sciences, humanities and social sciences; a class for food scientists on developing meaningful new product ideas; and a co-taught graduate course called Design Thinking for Food in which students learn and apply tools for addressing food system challenges such as food waste and food insecurity.
She is currently a Fellow & honorary board member of the Association for the Study of Food and Society, and serves on the editorial board of the journal Food, Culture & Society.
Charlotte can be contacted at email@example.com. She welcomes invitations, requests for electronic copies of articles, and questions and comments on her research. A copy of Charlotte's complete CV can be found here.