Terroir: Chocolate, Oysters, and Other Place-Flavored Foods


Fall 2015, Winter 2016 and Spring 2016 quarters

Taught by

feminist theory, consciousness studies
ecology, botany, plant pathology
geology, earth science, biogeochemistry

The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly engaged, will set off a revolution. – Paul Cezanne

If you crunch on a carrot, savor a cacao nib, or sip a coffee while learning about terroir with a geologist, a permaculturalist, and a cultural theorist, what will you taste? Often associated with wine, terroir is a French word that distinguishes a food that is what it is because of a taste of the place from which it comes. There are complex cultural traditions alongside the scientific factors we will explore for describing the effects of climate, soil, environment, and agricultural practices on our perception of flavor. We'll also explore the combined effects of smell and taste and their expression in terroir in relation to scientific and consumer objectivity. Throughout the year, we will focus on case studies of specific foods to explore terroir from a variety of methodologies and disciplinary perspectives via faculty lectures, readings, seminar, writing, field trips, films, community-based service learning, independent field studies, and an alumni lecture series.

Fall quarter, we’ll focus on the terroir of coffee, chocolate, and wine. We’ll begin with chocolate and tea conferences during the Week 1 weekend, followed up by a 4 day program retreat (Week 4) to Washington-Oregon wine growing country to gain an understanding of the influences of climate, topography, soils, and bedrock on viticulture in the PNW. Faculty members will provide an introduction to their disciplines in relation to terroir's expression in coffee, chocolate, and wine through a combination of lectures and tastings (grapes in the case of wine). Students will study physical geology, focusing on the broader plate tectonics and volcanic processes. Likewise, students will investigate permaculture design and will study how the landscape properties of a particular place can be modified and combined to create a unique entity. Students will also explore how terroir is a relation of reciprocity between subject and object using poststructuralist theory infused with gender and colonial critique as well as ethnographic strategies. We will engage the complexity of terroir as perception and history, place and soil, molecules and marketing.

Winter quarter, we’ll focus on oysters, chocolate, and tea. Students will have the opportunity to travel through Oregon and California on a field trip to study geological and climatological influences on agriculture and food flavors, with the option to attend the EcoFarm conference. Over the quarter, students will study soil development processes and the effects of climate change on the terroir of place-flavored foods, including the effects of changes in ocean chemistry on the terroir of oysters.

Spring quarter will begin with the study of terroir's expression in honey, chocolate, and potatoes. Students will gain hands-on horticultural/gardening training at Demeter’s Garden on Evergreen’s farm to facilitate student engagement in agricultural and permaculture fieldwork. During the latter half of the quarter, everyone will complete an independent or small-group, multiweek research project, community-based service-learning experience, or field study, and will share their learning progress via a structured online program forum.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

agriculture, business, natural sciences, and social sciences.

Academic Website

Academic Website

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day

Advertised schedule: First spring class meeting: Wednesday, March 30 at 9am (SAL 102)


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning (F), Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online (W), Hybrid Online Learning 25 - 49% Delivered Online (S):

Required Fees

$200 in fall and $550 in winter for overnight field trips.

Special Expenses

Students attending the Ecological Farming Association Conference winter quarter will need pay for registration, lodging, and meals (approximately $500). Student expenses for field study during spring quarter will vary based on individual student field study design.


Date Revision
February 3rd, 2016 Spring fee removed.
February 3rd, 2016 This program will not accept new enrollment spring quarter.
December 4th, 2015 Winter fee has been reduced; special expense added.
September 21st, 2015 Fall fee correction ($200, not $20).
August 31st, 2015 Description has been updated; fall fee has increased (from $175 to $200).

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter); 16 (Spring)

Variable Credit Options

Variable credit options will be available for students seeking language study outside the program to support their case study project or fieldwork within the program.

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior; 50% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 69


Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 10142
So - Sr (16 credits): 10145

Go to my.evergreen.edu to register for this program.


Accepting New Students

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 20075
So - Sr (16 credits): 20076
(1-16 credits): 20077

Go to my.evergreen.edu to register for this program.


Enrollment Closed

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 30045
So - Sr (16 credits): 30046

Go to my.evergreen.edu to register for this program.

Need Help Finding the Right Program?

Contact Academic Advising for help in answering your questions, planning your future and solving problems.