Creative Tastebuds Symposium

Rethinking taste.

By confronting natural and human sciences this symposium raises new questions about taste. We invite the audience to wonder with us: How are the connections between culture and brain when it comes to taste? Natural sciences and humanities tend to work in disparate spheres to understand how we come to like certain foods and dislike others. We believe time has come to work more interdisciplinary and thereby develop new understandings of taste. The symposium will present viewpoints from leading individuals from both the arts and the sciences, and performers from the creative sector will explore and challenge these viewpoints by engaging in a in dialogue with scholars as well as orchestrating experiments with the audience.

Program

The format will be a two-day symposium for scholars, chefs, food innovators, educators, designers, politicians, professionals from the cultural sector, researchers, food writers, food journalists, etc. Four consecutive sessions will be held at Aarhus Theater with a target audience of app. 300 people. Each session will be structured around three inputs on taste (with Paul Tyler (www.paultyler.dk) as the overall mediator): A lecture by a representative from the natural sciences. A lecture by a representative from the human sciences. A creative performance/speak/tasting mediating the two positions. The presentations and discussions will be in English.

Dates: 4-5 September 2017

More information here…

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What FoodAnthropology is Reading Now, April 26th, 2017

Jo Hunter-Adams

A brief digest of food and nutrition-related items that caught our attention recently. Got items you think we should include? Send links and brief descriptions to dberiss@gmail.com or hunterjo@gmail.com.

It’s always a good idea to start with coffee: Over at The Irrawaddy, there was this article about the evolving coffee culture in Rangoon, and how it intersects with the age-old tea culture:

The scene reminds me of home, and comes back to me every time I am away. In a country where tea culture has reigned dominant for decades, these shops occupy nearly every corner of commercial capital Rangoon’s streets. However, in recent years, Rangoon has witnessed an emerging coffee scene among its middle class and expatriate community that challenges these existing shops.

This past week, the NYTimes featured this story about turning old bread into ale:

“It’s a really creative solution to a pretty insurmountable problem,” Mr. Barber said of the beer, which he paired with his cured waste-fed pig.

On the theme of food waste, this article gave us some insight into other things happening in the world of food waste, one in Brazil:

A popular event to highlight the issue of food waste is the Disco Xepa (Disco Soup)—a collective cooking activity involving the preparation of otherwise wasted food into a soup that is served to anyone who joins. The word Xepa in Brazilian Portuguese refers to products that people purchase at the end of the day for low or no cost, because they didn’t sell. Disco Xepa events are open to the public and to all ages. The goal is “not just to party or to cook; but also to educate on food waste”.

Then there is the much anticipated Wasted!, a film that will be showing at the Tribeca film festival:

“We realized that this was something that was really important in this world, and we decided that we wanted to highlight this kind of passion, and show consumers how they, too, could impact food waste reduction, because it’s a staggering problem that people don’t know about.”

In the NYTimes was this article about salt, as an excerpt from Samin Nosrat’s much anticipated Salt, fat, acid heat:

Chefs have their saline allegiances and will offer lengthy, impassioned arguments about why one variety of salt is superior to another. But what matters most is that you’re familiar with whichever salt you use. Is it coarse or fine? How much does it take to make a roast chicken taste just right?

MotherJones also ran a story about the upcoming book. Nosrat is one of the stars of Of Michael Pollan Cooked.

While I’m trying not to automatically focus on Trump’s latest policies, especially since I’m South African, living in South Africa, everything the current U.S. administration has ripple effects that reach many bits of our daily lives, even this far away. For example, the Chicago Tribune recently ran an article on the slashing of foreign aid. Of course, there is plenty of room for debate over the roles of food aid in the global food system. Still, this paragraph captures the gravity of the cuts:

Likewise, the Bureau for Food Security is slated to lose 68 percent of its funding. This would reduce development aid geared toward preventing food shortages and may instead force the U.S. and other donor countries to spend more resources on emergency food assistance. The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a pro-development advocacy group, estimates the steep cuts could result in as many as 13 million people losing access to food aid, and more than 5 million children losing access to aid meant to combat stunting.

The Washington Post also had a story about food aid this past week:

As President Barack Obama’s experience shows, it would take a major push from the White House to achieve even incremental change. If he’s really interested in improving the cost-effectiveness of aid, as opposed to slashing it as an expression of ideology, President Trump would spend some of his political capital on the cause. Of course, that would also require him to depart from the simplistic “buy American” mind-set he has repeatedly expressed — and whose counterproductive effects the U.S. food-aid program epitomizes.

Here in South Africa, low carb high fat (LCHF) diets have been taking hold of our middle and upper classes, led by a sports medicine celebrity doctor Tim Noakes. This has not been without resistance, and Tim Noakes has been embroiled in a court case over advice given over twitter. He was recently found not guilty, so maybe we can return to broader questions of diet in the context of rapidly changing food environments. Yup, I think LCHF is a distraction away from the real issues.

One of these real issues are the upcoming mergers between large agro-chemical corporations: the proposed merger between Dow Chemical and Dupont, between Bayer and Monsanto, and between ChemChina and Syngenta. Here’s a publication giving the lay of the land in the South African context:

It is tautological to point out that any firm controlling inputs into production – and in the agricultural sector, this entails soil data, climate and weather patterns, historical data on crop yields, seed, agrochemicals and fertilisers, and (precision farming) machinery – will gain tremendous control over the market and sector and therefore exercise tremendous control over farmers by dictating to them what to do rather than provide services to the farmer (ETC Group, 2015). This directly ties in with the alienation of farmers from the productive processes. At the time of Pioneer’s acquisition of Pannar, ACB (2012) documented how further corporate concentration in the seed sector – and throughout the agrofood system from input supply to retailing – will exacerbate the existing situation whereby farmers are becoming irreversibly disconnected from breeding processes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CFP: The Future of Food Studies

We recently received this call for papers for a graduate student conference that should be of interest to our members or their students. At the very end of this CFP there is a note about the Graduate Association for Food Studies that ought to interest any graduate student with interests in food.

Call For Papers

The 2nd Annual

Future of Food Studies Graduate Conference

St. Louis  —  October 19-21, 2017

presented by the Graduate Association for Food Studies with major funding from

The Association for the Study of Food and Society and 

Washington University in St. Louis

The Future of Food Studies

The Graduate Association for Food Studies is pleased to announce the second annual Future of Food Studies graduate student conference, to be held 19-21 October 2017, at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The keynote speaker will be Professor Krishnendu Ray, acclaimed food studies scholar and chair of the Food Studies department at New York University. Additionally, a select number of student papers presented at the conference will be considered for publication in the Graduate Journal of Food Studies, an open-source, peer-reviewed graduate journal that publishes food-related research.  Learn more about our 2015 conference at Harvard University here.

Below you will find the Call for Papers; please feel free to distribute to any and all graduate students who you think may be interested.

Thanks to generous funding from the Association for the Study of Food and Society and Washington University, modest support may be available in some cases to partially subsidize travel expenses of some conference participants, with priority granted to those traveling from afar.

For proposal/abstract guidelines, a provisional schedule, and further details, please visit the conference website.

—–

Food studies has arrived. It is hard to imagine that two decades ago, scholars seriously considered food only in a few disciplines, usually at the margins. As food studies has exploded across disciplines, the field now boasts its own professional associations, journals, and undergraduate and graduate programs at institutions around the world. In addition, the past decade has seen a surge of public interest in food, from food trucks to urban farming to The Hunger Games—even as food security remains unattainable or elusive for billions of people. Food has never been more relevant to academic inquiry.

As food studies has risen to prominence, scholars have emphasized that we can use food as a lens to examine nearly any topic. Yet it is clear that food studies must grapple with many questions, including questions about the field’s own identity. With food studies becoming increasingly institutionalized, how will the discipline continue to evolve? What new subjects, methods, or theories will reshape the study of food in coming years? What areas of food culture and politics urgently need academic attention? And how can the discipline stay relevant when public interest in food inevitably wanes? Emerging scholars at the forefront of the discipline offer exciting answers to these questions.

This conference seeks graduate scholarship that presents original approaches to food studies, whether applying creative theories and methods to established questions or subjects, or interrogating unconsidered topics in novel ways.  As a fundamentally interdisciplinary subject of study, we welcome papers from the fields of anthropology, history, sociology, english, cultural studies, american studies, gender studies, economics, art, politics, pedagogy, nutrition, philosophy, and religion, as well as other disciplines. We expect to assemble graduate students from an array of disciplines and a broad geographic expanse.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

·        the ethics of terroir and sustainability;

·        agriculture and agrarian change in the Anthropocene;

·        medicinal or ‘drug’ foods across history;

·        innovation across the food system;

·        food and the body;

·        food sovereignty and food insecurity;

·        the politics of public health and nutrition;

·        emergent culinary diaspora(s);

·        food and value;

·        food, identity, and authenticity;

·        food, media, and representation ;

·        food, eating, and race;

·        food, agriculture, and empire;

·        food history.

Proposals (papers or full panels) should be submitted by June 15, 2017, and must include an abstract (250 words) of the paper to be presented and a brief biographical statement (100 words).

For thematic continuity, we strongly encourage proposals for pre-organized panels of up to three presentations. For panels, each speaker must send their own abstract, and indicate the names of the other speakers with whom they will share the panel at the bottom of their abstract. Panel proposals without all three speakers’ individual proposals submitted will not be accepted.  Only proposals from graduate students will be considered. Select papers will also be considered for publication in a special issue of the Graduate Journal of Food Studies.

See the conference website for more details and to submit an abstract.

Deadline for proposals: June 15, 2017


ABOUT THE GAFS

The Graduate Association for Food Studies (GAFS) is an interdisciplinary academic community founded in the spring of 2014 with the goals of connecting graduate students interested in food and promoting their exceptional work. The Association publishes the digital Graduate Journal of Food Studies and hosts the Future of Food Studies conference for graduate students to present, discuss, and network. Our first Conference took place in 2015 at Harvard University with an upcoming conference at Washington University in St. Louis in October 2017. We are the official graduate student caucus of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS).

Rooted in a network of senior graduate students pursuing food studies scholarship in a rigorous fashion, the Graduate Association for Food Studies provides peer-to-peer advice, support, and professional development. Join the GAFS to build your CV as well as your knowledge of the pragmatics of peer review, editing, book reviews, and publishing—and meet other grad students interested in food studies, from all over the world.

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What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, April 21, 2017

David Beriss

A brief digest of food and nutrition-related items that caught our attention recently. Got items you think we should include? Send links and brief descriptions to dberiss@gmail.com or hunterjo@gmail.com.

As the Trump administration nears its 100 day mark, it is worth noting that the US Department of Agriculture, with over 100,000 employees spread out over 29 agencies, regulating parts of an industry that contributes around $992 billion to the U.S. economy, is still without a confirmed leader. Lack of leadership has not stopped the Trump administration from acting, however. For instance, a rule proposed under the Obama administration that would have protected the rights of farmers to sue corporations for whom they raise chickens and hogs has been suspended for six months—and possibly permanently—much to the dismay of some of those farmers. The unconfirmed nominee has had a hearing, with mixed reviews, as you can see here and here.

Also on agriculture, but on a more global scale, the Lancet has recently started an open access online publication, “The Lancet Planetary Health,” that will focus on “human health within the context of climate change, water scarcity, biodiversity, food and nutrition, sustainable fishing, agricultural productivity, environmental exposures to contaminents, waste management, air quality, or water and airbourne diseases.” The first issue is worth a look. It includes an editorial about the role of smallholder farms in the global food system and several related articles.

And while we are still thinking about agriculture, take a look at this article and short film about a form of urban agriculture that is rarely discussed. The focus here is on farmers in Guangzhou, China, who continue to farm even as their village has vanished around them, replaced by endless rows of skyscrapers. This process is an old one, but watching this raises a lot of questions about food, culture, and the future of our food supply.

There has been a lot written about American barbecue cultures and racism in recent years. This New Yorker article, by Lauren Collins, focuses on the particularly bitter history and present of Maurice’s Piggie Park, in South Carolina. Collins does a great job of unpacking the nuances of this particular story in a way that would make for a great discussion starter in a class on…food, racism, American society, or the country’s political present. Alas, this is an article about barbecue that may cause you to lose your appetite.

From the UK, we have this interesting observation about a new restaurant in Seattle that will feature foods from the American South…served with an “encyclopedia” that explains the cuisine. The idea is to combat racist perspectives associated with the cuisine.  Food that insists you think.

Everyone wants to know where their food comes from, but who looks at how it gets to you? This episode of the podcast Bite focuses on an interview with Alexis Madrigal, who has his own podcast series on the world of containers and shipping. In this instance, he discusses the place of small batch coffee in the world of enormous containerized shipping. The way this shapes the world of food is really so huge that it is hard to fully grasp. You should listen to this; it is where much of what you eat comes from. Also, the podcast starts with a brief segment on Indian cooks in America who are thrilled with their Instant Pot electric pressure cookers…which ought to be inspiring for anyone who has one.

Many people are distressed at the demise of Lucky Peach, which provided a place for all kinds of food writing that was hard to find elsewhere (at least in an accessible format). For an example of why, read this amusing (yet possibly serious) article on the most beautiful Taco Bell in the world. Also, if you draw, you could join the Taco Bell Drawing Club.

Why are so many people being asked to work for free? This has been a crisis in the arts for a while, of course. Internships, mostly unpaid, seem increasingly necessary for college students before they can hope to start developing careers. Unpaid labor is also an important part of the world of food, with cooking school graduates and other aspiring cooks often engaging in “stages” (one of the culinary world’s words for “internship”) in restaurants. How useful is this? How exploitative? Is it even really legal? Corey Mintz explores these questions by looking at the astonishing extent to which the world’s most elite restaurants actually depend on unpaid labor.

The hipster food world is in love with mobile food vendors, perhaps best represented by trendy food trucks. Along with trendy trucks, a lot of food vending happens in carts that sell nearly every imaginable food.  This very useful article by Tejal Rao illustrates a day in the life of a New York City food vendor. His food looks great, by the way, but it is the result of hard work and what look like terrible economics.

In the realm of obscure-but-fascinating items, historian Paul Freedman provides this brief overview of the history of food at private clubs. The article includes lists and photos of current specialties at a variety of clubs around the U.S. One might expect the food to be rarified and elegant, but the photo of macaroons with Halloween candy corn suggests otherwise.

Finally, the first round of the French presidential elections is this Sunday (4/23). The outcome is anything but certain and, depending on your politics, you may need a drink afterwards. A French friend recently sent a clip from the movie “Le Tatoué,” with Jean Gabin and Louis de Funès demonstrating how to eat and drink with gusto. Even without faith in French politics, this should inspire everyone to have at least some faith in French cuisine, no matter the outcome. Remember this advice: “Manger des tripes sans cidre, c’est aller à Dieppe sans voir la mer.” Enjoy.

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Filed under agriculture, anthropology, anthropology of food, film, Food Studies

Of Bodily & Anthropological Matters: Self-Improvement in the Age of Wellness (AAA CFP)

In search of papers for wellness panel at AAA. Tentative abstract below.

If interested contact Lindsay.Bell@oswego.edu

Of Bodily and Anthropological Matters: Self-Improvement in the Age of Wellness

In recent years, social scientists from the global north have come out against what is constituted as ‘the wellness industry’. This term brings together diverse bodily practices from yoga and meditation, to fitness and running, to colonics, green juice and taking a vitamin regimen. The global wellness industry is said to gross 3.7 trillion dollars per year. This remarkable trend in spending, we argue, should garner more curiosity as to what modes of relating to self/society these practices engender in diverse locales. What sociologist William Davies dubs “The Happiness Industry” (Verso, 2015) is often analyzed in the abstract and dismissed as the privatization of aspirations for the good life by Big Capital. Instead of understanding these trends in general, this panel investigates the particularities of self-improvement in a variety of geopolitical contexts. While leftist academics André Spicer and Carl Cederström understand these bodily habits as symptoms of a global “Wellness Syndrome” (Polity, 2015) laden with individualizing undertones, our case studies reveal otherwise. Collectively, the papers ask us to reconsider self-improvement through anthropological lenses. How might self-improvement actions and aspirations in an age of wellness act as windows into larger questions about the nature of human experience, embodied political economy, the relationship between the self and the social, and the entanglement of language, body and mind? Through situated analyses of communities engaged in various ideas of what it means to be ‘well’, these papers describe the lifeworlds made possible by specific improvement pursuits.

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Culinary Historians of New York Scholar’s Grants

CHNY logo

CULINARY HISTORIANS OF NEW YORK ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR 2017 SCHOLAR’S GRANTS

INCREASED FUNDING BY JULIA CHILD FOUNDATION FOR GASTRONOMY AND CULINARY ARTS

APPLICATION DEADLINE JUNE 2, 2017

Culinary Historians of New York invites submissions for the 2017 CHNY Scholar’s Grant in support of research and scholarship in the field of culinary history.  Since 2012, the CHNY Scholar’s Grant has been recognized by the Julia Child Foundation with generous financial support.  We are pleased to announce that the support has been increased this year, allowing CHNY to award three grants in the amounts of $3,500, $2,500, and $1,500, respectively.  The grants are open to all individuals age 18 and older and are merit-based. Further details and application requirements and forms can be found at http://www.culinaryhistoriansny.org by clicking on the “Scholar’s Grant” link in the Awards tab.  The awards will be announced in July.

The CHNY Scholar’s Grant promotes research and scholarship in the field of culinary history and is awarded annually to individuals seeking financial support for a current, well-developed project that will culminate in a book, article, paper, film, or other scholarly endeavor, including ephemera. The grants are unrestricted and can be used to defray research expenses, attend conferences, or engage in other activities related to the applicant’s project. The CHNY Scholar’s Grant is merit-based; financial need is not considered in making the award.

Previous CHNY Scholar’s Grant winners include:

2016:  Stacy Williams, “Recipes for Resistance:  Culinary Writings from American Feminists, 1875-2005” ($3,500)

Anthony Buccini, “From Kongri to Diri ak Djondjon:  Slavery, Creolization, and Culinary Genesis in Saint Domingue and Independent Haiti” ($1,500)

2015: Francis and Bronwen Percival, “Every up-to-date cheesemaker knows: How starter cultures changed cheese, 1880-1930” ($3,500)

Professor Emily Arendt, “Making Politics Palatable: Food and Partisanship in the Early American Republic.” ($1,500)

2014: Professor Joy Fraser, George Mason University, “Honest Poverty versus Foreign Fakery: Popular Histories of Haggis and Culinary Historical Corrective” ($3,500)

Scott Alves Barton, PhD candidate, New York University, “Feeding the Gods: Afro-Brazilian Street Foods and dendé” ($1,500)

2013: Professor Jennifer Wallach, University of North Texas, “Eating High on the Hog: African-Americans, Food Reform, and Racial Uplift.” ($3,500).

Professor Eric Dursteler, Brigham Young University, “Around the Mediterranean: Foodways and Identity.” ($1,500).

2012: India Mandelkern, PhD candidate, University of California at Berkeley, “In Da Club: Dining and Taste-making in 18th Century London” ($3,500).

Professor Larry H. Spruill, Morehouse College, “Down By the Creek: Cooking with Rebecca Taylor in Early Eastchester’s Guion Tavern” ($1,500).

Anyone wishing to donate to the CHNY Scholarship Fund please contact us via the web site or inquire at CHNYdonations@gmail.com

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Black Women’s Food Work is from the Future

Ashanté M. Reese, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Spelman College

 When I think about being a Black girl from the future, my mind goes to the contradiction that many Black girls and women encounter which is that we are often simultaneously hyper visible and invisible at the same time – Renina Jarmon

Black women are not seen as authorities in the kitchen or elsewhere in matters of food—culturally, politically, and socially—and when she dares to be, she may be described in reviews as “angry” or “not angry enough.” She is rendered absent, and made invisible by the continued salience of intersecting vectors of disempowerment: race/gender/class/sexuality. Or in the absolute worst cases she is confronted—face-to-face and in social media outlets—with a “how dare she” attitude because she does not, will not, cannot conform to a prescribed role of Black women who work with, as banal as it sounds, food (Nettles-Barcélon et al. 2015:35)

If there is to be a future where the food system is safe, equitable, and healthy how will we get there?

On March 30th, the newly launched Food Studies Program at Spelman College hosted a symposium on Food Justice featuring three Black women activists and scholars who work to improve the food system and health of communities in various parts of the country.  The symposium was clear in its purpose: to not only interrogate the successes and limits of food justice but to also highlight the work of Black women that is often invisible, ignored, or co-opted.

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Monica White, PhD in the field in Mississippi

I left the symposium feeling energized and challenged by the panelists and the audience. I also left with questions. How do we contend with the hypervisibility of Black women’s association with obesity on the one hand and the lack of visibility concerning Black women’s activist, artistic, and academic expertise in food production, preparation and writing on the other?  Nettles-Barcélon et al. provide a framework—Black women’s food work as critical space—for understanding how the future of the food system is deeply intertwined with the food work produced by Black women and the barriers that attempt to curtail that work. They argue that because Black women are positioned as both speakers for “the other” while also being Othered, their food work is not simply necessary but critical in the dismantling of an oppressive food system that consistently denies equal access to Othered bodies from which corporations profit.

From the scholarly world to on-the-ground organizing, Black women ask difficult questions, put their reputations and bodies on the line, and demonstrate a Black feminist food future attuned to a far-off world in which we are all free.  This future is currently being written in the scholarly works about Fannie Lou Hamer and the Freedom Farms Cooperative (White 2017), increasing visibility of Black women vegans outside the normative gaze (Harper 2010), and analyses of Black women’s agency, power and entrepreneurship in the context of stereotypes-turned-metaphors (Williams-Forson 2006). It is engaged with dismantling an unjust and unequal industrialized food system at the nexus of racial justice under the Movement for Black Lives. It is on the front lines on the Fight for $15. It is being built everyday on urban farms, in community gardens, in nonprofit organizations, and in classrooms where Black women’s labor contribute to everyday resistances.  It is present in intergenerational storytelling and cross-institutional relationship building. This work is generated from a simultaneous engagement with the past, the present, and a future where the dialectical hypervisibility and invisibility that Black women experience no longer exists.

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Community Member Supporting Urban Ag in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Ashanté Reese)

In the sixth episode of season two of the WGN series Underground, Harriet Tubman—played by Aisha Hinds—delivers a passionate, hour-long speech to abolitionists who are at odds about how to move forward on the question of eradicating slavery. After detailing parts of her own journey to freedom and commitment to others’ freedom, she declared:

There ain’t no negotiations on freedom. I spent all my time knowing things instead of believing them. And that’s the first step to being free. When you can see past all the things that you know and believe something better.

Black women’s food work is often informed by an embodied knowing that it is difficult—if not impossible—to negotiate from the duality of hypervisibility and invisibility. Instead, this food work is rooted in a belief in something beyond. It is not simply a substance of things hoped for or the evidence of things not seen (see Hebrews 11:1 for biblical reference). No. Black women’s food work is the critical space from which the world we want to see is being built.  Black women’s food work is, indeed, from the future.

 

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