Food Literacy, and The Real Cost of Food
How much do you know about the food you eat? How much do you know about the impacts it causes on its way to your plate?
My name is Eric Garza, and I have spent the last several years teaching about food literacy at various colleges and universities in Vermont, a state known for its progressive food culture. I meet so many people who want to better align their food choices with their values, but struggle to make sense of the often-conflicting information out there on the real cost of food. I see so much need for food literacy in the world today, but well-designed, reasonably priced learning opportunities on this subject are few and far between.
Seeing this need, for the last few years I have wanted to offer my classes online, separate from any college or university, both to make thoughtfully-designed educational experiences accessible to broader audiences at a reasonable cost and to diversify my income stream. Despite the fact that I receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from students in my classes, I nonetheless am watching my teaching gigs dwindle as the state’s higher education scene struggles financially. What has prevented me from offering the independent online courses I alluded to is the roughly $9k I would need to set my website up to offer my first class. My earnings as an adjunct faculty have been too meager to provide the funds, despite how frugally I live, so I have turned to crowdfunding to meet this need.
The funds I am raising will allow me to develop my course The Real Cost of Food to offer online through my website. I will offer this 8-week course on a sliding scale, from $99 to $499, which is far less than what university students would pay. It will explore the monetary, social and environmental costs associated with food production, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal, and while it focuses on North America we will touch on issues in other parts of the world as well. Participants will watch video lectures, read articles, participate in discussion forums, and engage in an online Q&A session with me through Zoom each week, as well as other fun assignments. There will be no grading, and participants have flexibility in how they engage with the curriculum. I will develop other courses eventually, but figured I would start with this one since it is my most popular and my market research suggests it has the broadest public appeal.
All contributors will get a thank you note from me as a show of gratitude for supporting this endeavor. Those who donate $50 or more will be able to sign up for The Real Cost of Food at no additional cost, which saves you $49 off the lower end of the sliding scale. If you donate $100 or more you get a transferable enrollment coupon you can give as a gift to someone who wants to take the course. Regardless of how much you donate, I am grateful for all of the support I receive!
When you donate to this project, you are not paying me to design the course. I have taught this class for years, so that part is already done. The itemized list below shows how funds will be used. Some of the funds will be used for software licenses, some will pay costs associated with website and content development, and some will cover the cost of equipment upgrades. If I exceed my goal, any additional funds will be used to offer scholarships to folks for whom the lower end of my sliding scale would be a hardship. For the sake of transparency, all donors will receive a detailed explanation of how funds are used.
The budget for this project is as follows (in decreasing order of necessity):
LearnDash license $199
Web design & development $1,200
Honoraria for guest speakers ($50 x 8) $400
Video production $1200
Video transcription $1,000
Laptop better suited to video editing $2,500
Final Cut Pro (video editing software) $299
The campaign has a series of goals. The first goal was to raise ~$1,400 by the end of June so I can buy the license for LearnDash (a software package that will let me offer online courses on my website), install it, and integrate it with other plugins so it works properly. I met this goal on June 26, a few days early! I hope to raise the rest of the funds by mid-July so I can have the content finished and online by mid-August, and be ready to start the class in mid-September.
If you have any questions about the project, please feel free to reach out!
A quick update: I purchased LearnDash, the learning management system I planned to use to set up my website to offer online courses. The plugin has been installed and I just got word from my web host that the online security protocols (SSL certificate, for those into web jargon) has been updated so I can run LearnDash and start integrating it with my web commerce plugin. The project continues, and thanks for your support!