What FoodAnthro is Reading Now, August 29 edition

This week many  food scholars  are meeting here in Cape Town for the World Nutrition Congress, so I thought it would be a good moment to highlight the debates happening in South Africa over a proposed sugary beverage tax, as explained in one article in the Daily Maverick. Beyond whether the tax will benefit South Africans, the discourse offers interesting insights into self-control, health, class, and race in relation to our consumption of food.

If you want to stay in South Africa but take a break from pondering these heady policy issues, check out this story of coffee in Umhlali, up the north coast of KwaZulu Natal, and the seemingly universal narrative of coffee culture.

On the subject of sugar, FoodAnthro reader Zofia Boni wrote this wonderful reflection about eating junk food and getting cavities in Warsaw, and trying unsuccesffully to avoid cafeteria food:

Not only did I eat what they ate, I also often unintentionally assumed the role of a child. I picked at the food, I tried to hide the uneaten pieces of meat under the potatoes and I strategically chose the time to return my plate, so that nobody would see which one was actually mine and that I had left some of the meal uneaten for that would be unacceptable (though I would not be sent back to my seat to finish eating, as children were).

Common criticisms of efforts to change food systems revolve around whether a proposed way of eating would work at a larger scale. This article in The Guardian about the limited relevance of veganism to climate change came alongside this article claiming that climate change requires that we all be vegan. Despite arriving from different perspectives, both articles speak meaningfully about eating in light of climate change (and perhaps to lack of universality when it comes to food choices).

Based on experiences in a refugee camp in Rwanda, Emily Lynch’s article about food in a refugee camp in Rwanda offers interesting insights into food as currency, power and lack thereof, and the challenges of trying to provide more dignified solutions in a camp setting:

This article tacks between food rations and cash-for-food programs to illustrate how solution-oriented thinking and programming fails repeatedly to produce less sickness, more autonomy, and a more dignified human experience in exile.

My favourite article on NPR’s The Salt this week was about a restaurant trying to cater to everyone. I love that the owner is breaking down multiple barriers: that children can show up and feel welcomed and at home:

Amir, 12, and his cousin Mehran, 11, live in the neighborhood and are on their fourth visit in three days. They sit on a bench on the patio, enjoying their Spanish hot chocolate, smacking their lips between sips.

“I like the experience,” says Mehran. “And the hot chocolate, the cookies, the books.”

On a related note, on the other side the world, a restaurant chain in LA is trying to bring affordable restaurant food according to neighbourhood income. In their own words:

The restaurant is opening in the middle of a growing effort to bring accessible, healthful food and food education to low-income areas of Los Angeles.

Please do keep sharing your latest reads! hunterjo at gmail.com.

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