Food Curriculum





Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games

Popular science fiction disutopian novel with frightening connections to food inequality in today's world.

Upton Sinclair: The Jungle

Classic and powerful critique of the food packing industry. Most effective taught in portions - the text is long and can be tedious. Full text on online: Project Gutenberg

John Steinbeck: Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath, In Dubious Battle

Steinbeck chronicles the struggle of agricultural workers in these highly teachable novels. In Dubious Battle (1936) focuses on a fruit picker strike though lesser known it is a good choice.

Tomas Rivera:The Earth Did Not Devour Him

A classic Mexican American novel available in translation that recounts the experience of migrant food workers in the Midwest, told from the point of view of a young boy.

Alexie, Sherman.  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.  New York:  Little, Brown and Company, 2007.

Winner of the National Book Award, this novel describes the life of Arnold Spirit, who rarely knows where his next meal is coming from.

Gary Soto: Jesse

Young adult novel by outstanding Mexican American writer set in the 1970s about brothers that try to make it to college, while working on a farm.

Kamala Markandya: Nectar in a Sieve

Rice farmers in India pushed off of their land by industrialization.

The Satyricon by Petronius

A Roman satire, the second chapter ("volume") of which is an extended description of an absolutely over-the-top and obscene Roman feast at the home of Gaius Pompeius Trimalchio.



Ramin Ganeshram: Stir it Up

Young adult novel about Trinidad refugees in New York with a passion for food. Includes recipes.

Mark Twain: "Cannibalism in the Cars"

A story about cannibalism that is a satire on American politics.


Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery

“An eminent and ruthless food critic lies dying, struggling to pinpoint the one flavor from his youth that constitutes ‘the first and ultimate truth’ of his life” (The New Yorker).

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

A memoir of Hemingway’s time in Paris in the twenties, of which he notes, “We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.”

The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola

An escaped convict encounters “the Battle of the Fat and the Thin” in the food markets of Paris— “great rivers of vegetables, cheeses, butter, fish and meats, and . . . sewers of blood and putrefaction” (Publishers Weekly).

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Satire of eighties New York yuppy culture with a variety of references to high-end food and dining.

Moby Dick (esp. Chapter 15: "Chowder") by Herman Melville

Describes the meal Ishmael and Queequeg eat at the Nantucket Inn, served to them by Ms. Hussey.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

A desperately poor and hungry boy wins entrance to Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory—along with four other spoiled and nasty children who display various appetite-related character flaws.

Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski

Coming of age story set during the Great Depression.

Short Stories

Edible Stories: A Novel in Sixteen Parts by Mark Kurlansky

Linked collection of stories themed around food and the “sensory and cultural anchors” it provides as well as a “consideration of the role food plays in life” (Publishers Weekly).

Dissertation Upon Roast Pig by Charles Lamb

Available in the public domain this story focuses on the move from eating meat raw to roasting it in China.

Waiter, a Glass of Beer! by Guy De Maupassant

The Strawberries by Emile Zola

On Some Dinners at Paris by William Makepeace Thackeray


Literary Journals
Lucky Peach Published by McSweeney’s



The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food & Drink by Kevin Young (ed) 2012