Trumping the Farmers, Taxing the Junk Food, Regulating the Milk, and More: World Food Policy Roundup


By Kelly Alexander

In the US: Farmers voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016, and to thank them he addressed the American Farm Bureau Federation conference in Nashville. “Oh, are you happy you voted for me,” he said.” Watch Trump’s address (note the toned-down critique of NAFTA, which many farmers support); in the world: Should global food policy take inspiration from new “junk food taxes” in Hungary and Mexico? Researchers find that such taxes can positively affect habits;  in South Asia: A study of milk production in Nepal shows that compliance with global standards of food safety conflicts with labor and humanitarian practices in the developing world–so far intentions are good, but milk is still bad;  in Europe: an impassioned op-ed argues for Ireland to continue to be a player against worldwide malnutrition by prioritizing its foreign policy accordingly; mobilizing biopower for good or political opportunism? You decide.

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Taste and Terroir as an Anthropological Matter – Summary

Happy New Year!

Abigail Adams and I are the new co-editors of the SAFN blog. Our heartfelt thanks to David Beriss, the long-time editor and constant champion of this fantastic resource! We are stepping into big shoes.

We will begin our tenure with a series of short overviews of the food related panels at the 2017 American Anthropological Association meeting in Washington, D.C.. We include contact information for the panel organizer so that you can easily initiate further dialogue or requests for individual papers.

Kerri Lesh (University of Nevada-Reno; organized the panel, Taste and Terroir as Anthropological Matter. She was joined by Carole Counihan, Anne Lally, Sharyn Jones and Daniel Shattuck. I was the discussant. The papers covered a wide range of locations, perceptions and actions related to taste and terroir: Kentucky, Iceland, Sardinia, Italy and Spain; capers, grapes, sheep, hogs. As Kerri Lesh points out, terroir can be identified as a rich site for “condensed sociocultural matter.” In such considerations, as made clear by everyone on the panel, terroir makes sense to people due to concerns that emerge from specific cultural and environmental contexts. Anthropologists, thus, can make an important contribution to the expanding scholarly interest in the concept of terroir, because our research makes clear that it cannot be understood using linear analyses of cause and effect. Meanings are complex and contradictory. Anne Lally’s exploration of the contested role of sheep to the Icelandic landscape and culture made that clear; these sheep are ‘good’ for Iceland’s agrarian identity but not so ‘good’ for contemporary concerns about tree loss and soil erosion. Meanwhile, everyone in Iceland likes the taste of the sheep. So, certain sociocultural matters appear consistently in terroir talk, even though the cultures and identities vary. All the panelists agreed that we talk about terroir in order to be connected to a certain geography. Daniel Shattuck, Sharyn Jones and Carole Counihan’s ethnographies reveal that to talk about terroir can also reveal contemporary concerns, because it reinforces the notion that our food is natural, it comes from the soil and not a bag of Miracle Gro. Finally, we all affirmed that those we studied care about terroir because it links food and drink to larger human aspirations, mediating on-going attempts to build towards the social, cultural and public good – by producers, by consumers, by activists.

Amy Trubek, SAFN Blog Co-Editor

University of Vermont


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Postdoctoral Fellow at the Culinaria Research Center at the University of Toronto

The Culinaria Research Centre at the University of Toronto invites applications for a full-time postdoctoral fellowship in the field of Food Studies. The Culinaria Research Centre is one of the world’s largest research centres in the study of food and society. To learn more about the Centre, its projects and affiliates, please visit our website online at:

The postdoctoral fellow will have the opportunity to work with a range of Food Studies faculty at the University of Toronto under the direct supervision of Daniel Bender, Director of the Centre. This fellowship is open to all scholars who have completed a Ph.D.- either in Food Studies or a related field within the humanities and social sciences- by the time of appointment and within the last five years. The postdoctoral appointment will commence on 1 July 2018 for the duration of one year. Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience but with a minimum of $31,000 CAD.

The Culinaria Research Centre seeks postdoctoral fellowship applicants with primary research experience in one or more of the following areas: Urban food security; food and diaspora; food activism; food, urban livelihoods/labour, and urban agriculture; food and sensory experience; food and inequality; food and identity; and/or critical approaches to nutrition discourses and practices. Fellows will interact with faculty, graduate students, undergraduates and culinary professionals across a wide range of disciplines. In addition to engaging in collaborative and independent research, the Fellow will assist in planning and administering a speakers’ series, along with other Food Studies events through the duration of their tenure. The Fellow is expected to be in residence at the Culinaria Research Centre and will be able to conduct research at the University of Toronto libraries and in the Culinaria Kitchen Laboratory. The Centre is located at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus, within the richly diverse eastern end of the Greater Toronto Area.

Applications should be submitted by 20 February 2018. However, review of applications will begin immediately. Applications must include: 1) a cover letter; 2) a curriculum vitae; 3) three letters of reference from supervisors or professors sent separately; (3) a writing sample; and 4) a statement of current and future research interests, as well as a delineation of possible contributions to the research culture of the Centre.

Employment as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto is covered by the terms of the CUPE 3902 Unit 5 Collective Agreement.  This job is posted in accordance with the CUPE 3902 Unit 5 Collective Agreement. The University of Toronto is a non-discriminate employer and is welcoming to all diversity within its heterogeneous community. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.

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News of the New Year at SAFN

David Beriss
President, Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition

Happy New Year!

We have news of changes here at FoodAnthropology and, more broadly, at the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition. First, Rachel Black, having completed her extended term as our glorious leader, has now joined the ranks of our many illustrious past presidents. We are all grateful for her amazingly productive work. And I am sure she will continue to play a significant role in shaping this organization and the anthropology of food and nutrition in general.

At the last meeting of the American Anthropological Association I officially became the new president of SAFN. Hopefully I can live up to the standards set by my predecessors. I have only just begun to learn the secret codes, handshakes, and mysterious workings of the AAA itself. I keep hoping that an image of Sidney Mintz will appear in the sugar on a beignet and point the way forward, but that has not yet happened. I suspect that successful leadership of SAFN will mostly involve finding ways to help other people pursue whatever brilliant ideas they have for the organization. And, as it happens, there are already people stepping up with great ideas to pursue.

In coming weeks, I will post updates about some of those ideas and activities here. One of the first and most important ones has to do with the blog itself. Amy Trubek and Abigail Adams are taking over as co-editors of FoodAnthropology. They already have a number of really great ideas for new themes for posting here. You will continue to read many of the occasional postings (like our reading digest, “What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now”) and series that have proven popular over time. I am sure that Amy and Abigail will bring in new writers and themes in coming weeks that will make the blog more dynamic and exciting. If you have ideas, reach out to them at and

Unlike some of the bigger sections of the AAA, SAFN does not have its own conference. What we do have, however, is the ability to participate in one of the most exciting interdisciplinary annual food studies conferences anywhere. The joint annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Food and Society and the Agriculture Food and Human Values Society occurs every June and showcases a lot of the best and most interesting research in food across many disciplines (we posted the CFP on the blog a few weeks ago, here). It is a terrific opportunity to network with people and there is usually a significant SAFN presence. This year’s conference will be in Madison, Wisconsin, from June 13-16. We would like to organize several SAFN panels there. The overall conference theme is “The Agroecological Prospect: The Politics of Integrating Values, Food, and Farming,” and, of course, panels and papers on other topics are welcome. Let’s use the blog and the SAFN listserv to organize panels starting now. Got ideas? Let us know or post a call on the listserv to recruit others. The deadline for submissions is February 15, so we must get organized quickly! (You must be a SAFN member to use the listserv. Not a member? We would love to have you among us! See the top of the blog for a link to how to become one.)

Last year we created an elected position for a student representative on the SAFN Executive Board. We are now officially seeking nominations for that job! Our current appointed student representative, by the way, is Kelly Alexander, whose work you can find all over this blog. If you are interested in running, please contact David Sutton, who is our nominations chair.

I will post further updates here soon, as will the many other contributors to this blog. You should reach out to Amy and Abigail with ideas for ways you can participate in the blog as well. This has proven to be a wonderful resource for getting information out to the world on the work of anthropologists in food. When you post here, a lot of people will read what you write, including many people outside the world of universities. Use that power to get your work read! This is an exciting time to be working on food and nutrition. Let’s get the stories of our research and of the people we work with out there!


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Job Posting for Food Systems/Food Studies Position

The Culinary Institute of America is looking for a new colleague to teach food studies and food systems. They would be joining a growing program in Applied Food Studies (, which focuses on a blend of experiential and theoretical approaches to the field. A PhD is preferred but not required.

Food Studies Job

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Food Swamps, Homeopathy, Healthy Soil, and Airplane Food: A New U.S. Food Policy Roundup

Unknown-2By Kelly Alexander

Happy New Year and without further ado, here’s the state of U.S. food policy on this second day of 2018: Special United States Edition. In the news now: Small-scale family farms are in limbo as the Trump administration backs away from NAFTA negotiations; a groundbreaking new proposal in the California General Assembly would legalize the selling of home-cooked foods and meals as a way of empowering immigrant and minority community cooks; menu labeling is coming to all American-based airlines in May 2018, but until then you can learn more about who serves what in the friendly skies; Michael Jacobson, newly retired executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, opines extensively about the governmental interventions he believes are necessary for a healthier American diet; you know about “food deserts” but do you know about food swamps—they’re just as much a part of the obesity epidemic, according to a new study; in the coming year the FDA vows to “crack down” on homeopathic remedies in response to increasing consumer safety concerns; finally, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says healthy soil is important to healthy food and wants to revamp the wetland determination process (maybe by paying farmers).


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Sustainable Development Postdoc

The following announcement was received from Amy Trubek, who notes that there are several UVM Food Systems faculty affiliated with the Gund Institute. That, along with the fact that ending hunger is a sustainable development goal, ought to make this a great opportunity for food and nutrition oriented anthropologists.


The Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont (UVM) is recruiting Postdoctoral Associates for Fall 2018 to conduct research on major global environmental challenges.  We seek exceptional early-career scholars committed to connecting interdisciplinary research to real-world issues in environment and sustainability.

About the position:

Postdocs are expected to pursue rigorous, original research that spans traditional disciplines and contributes to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  Postdocs will be supervised by at least one Fellow of the Gund Institute at UVM as their advisor or co-advisor.  Co-advisors from different departments are encouraged. We expect postdocs to develop additional collaborations with other UVM scholars, and to participate actively in seminars, trainings, gatherings, and other events hosted by the institute.

These are two-year positions, given satisfactory progress in the first year. We offer an annual salary of $49,000 plus benefits, and a discretionary fund of $5,000/year to support research costs and travel. Postdocs will also have opportunities for professional development (e.g., media and communications training). Expected start date is September 1, 2018.

About the Gund Institute:

The Gund Institute is a newly expanded campus-wide center for interdisciplinary research, where more than 100 faculty, global affiliates, post-docs, and graduate students collaborate widely to understand the interactions among natural, social, and economic systems. Consistent with the mission of the Institute, we pursue projects that both advance research frontiers and address concrete environmental issues.

Eligibility and application:

Candidates must have completed their PhD by the expected start date, and no earlier than 5 years before it. Competitive candidates will have a strong record of success in their PhD program, a demonstrated commitment to interdisciplinary work, a keen interest in connecting research to policy and decisions, and high potential to become global leaders in sustainability.

If interested, first contact potential advisors from among the Gund Fellows to discuss your ideas. The best proposals are typically co-developed with potential advisors. Submit an online application by March 15, 2018, including a cover letter, CV, and research proposal.

Applications also require a letter of support from a proposed advisor. These should be emailed directly by the applicant’s proposed advisor by March 15. Applications will be evaluated on scientific merit, potential for real-world impact, excellence of the applicant, fit with Gund Institute research themes, and feasibility.

About the University of Vermont:

The University of Vermont (UVM) is the only comprehensive university in the state and Vermont’s land-grant institution. UVM enrolls 13,000 students, including 1,500 graduate students, and attracts more than $138 million in research awards annually. The campus overlooks Lake Champlain, between the Adirondack and Green mountains, and is surrounded by the small, historical city of Burlington, perennially voted one of America’s best places to live. UVM is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. Applications from women and people from diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds are encouraged.

For more info:


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