Steven Alvarez, a professor at the University of Kentucky, is revolutionizing how students look at the food they eat, and he’s starting with tacos. Alvarez’s “Taco Literacy: Public Advocacy and Mexican Food in the US South” class gives students the opportunity to understand a culture through the lens of food. He tells Munchies,

This class allows our students to explore the issues of immigration, inequality, workers, intercultural communication, and literacy through the prism of food.

We explore the history of networks of Mexican and Mexican-American food in Kentucky by writing about recipes and rhetorics that deal with things such as authenticity, local variations and preparations, and how food literacies situate different spaces, identity, and forms of knowledge.

A photo posted by Wesley Avila (@djwes) on

Students taking the class will read restaurant reviews (like the recent New York Times review of Señor Frog’s in New York City), post Instagram photos, and hone in on their storytelling techniques. By the end of the class, Alvarez hopes students will have a larger worldview that will impact the United States for the better. Alvarez tells Munchies,

My hope, at the very least, is to have my students build more connections with the community and help with public writing—things like helping out small Mexican restaurants with menus and website design if they’d like. Stuff like that.

By moving away from the traditional lecture-style of learning, students are able to obtain information in a different way than they are used to, possibly for the best. Props to Alvarez for changing the the education process as we know it.

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The story of how Mexican food made its way to the United States—and how it evolved—is a rich history filled with political, social, and economic factors that most of us don’t consider when we bite into our carne asada taco.

[via Munchies]