What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, September 22, 2016

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.

We begin by recognizing the passing of Dorothy Cann Hamilton, founder of the International Culinary Center (formerly the French Culinary Institute) in New York and one of the leaders in the American food movement of the last few decades. The New York Times obituary is here, more commentary has been gathered here. There was also a moving interview with Chef José Andrés on NPR, which you can find here.

“Food Liberation: Why the Food Movement Is Unstoppable” is the headline on this fascinating manifesto from Jonathan Latham. The headline is hyperbolic, but the article lays out the food movement as a kind of anarcho-environmental movement (a characterization Latham would probably object to, so read the article) that takes a fundamentally different approach to all forms of life. If you are interested in interspecies anthropology or the food movement, you should read this.

Listen to this. Seriously, take some time and listen to this. The Gravy podcast, from the Southern Foodways Alliance, devotes an episode to Repast, an oratorio written by Kevin Young and composed by Nolan Gasser. It recounts the story of Booker Wright, who upset the discourse about race relations in Greenwood, Mississippi in 1966 when, in an NBC documentary called “Mississippi: A Self Portrait,” he told the harsh truth about his experiences as a waiter in a whites-only restaurant. You can see that scene from the documentary here. Why was equal access to restaurants central to the Civil Rights movement? This is a powerful resource for thinking about that, as well as for raising questions about the ongoing struggle for equality and respect for black Americans.

Are mushroom pickers among the last foragers in the industrial American food system? Brian Barth provides some insight into their world—in the Pacific Northwest—in Modern Farmer. For a related perspective, read this piece from Nicky Ouellet at NPR.

The latest issue of Anthropological Forum is devoted to questions of food sovereignty in the anthropology of food. The introduction, by Graeme MacRae, seems to be available for free and, if you are lucky, the other articles should be available through your library’s subscription.

On a related topic, this article from Gilles Lhuilier, on the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers website, argues that there are dangers built into the growing role of environmental NGOs in managing fisheries on behalf of come countries. He seems to be suggesting that in their efforts to combat climate change, they end up harming local fishing communities. In addition, he writes, the NGOs operate outside any kind of democratic control.

Following up on last week’s controversy over Bon Appetit’s effort to teach us all to eat pho, here are two more analyses of the controversy. The first, from Dakota Kim at Paste Monthly, provides a nice overview of some issues around cultural appropriation. The second is from blogger Khanh Ho, who looks at the “cultural optics” of this event.

Pho is not the only food that has been caught in the crossfire of the cultural appropriation/authenticity wars recently. About a week ago, as the dust was settling from the pho feud, Disney posted a video and recipe for “healthy” gumbo on the Facebook page related to their movie, “The Princess and the Frog.” The gumbo lacked a roux and included kale and quinoa, which led, of course, to a firestorm of amusement and outrage from folks in Louisiana and elsewhere. This article from nola.com provides links to a lot of what was written. It is worth noting that a drunken comedian made the Disney recipe and found it to be pretty tasty…as long as you don’t mistake it for gumbo. On a more serious note, asking students to think about the different responses to these two controversies could raise a wide range of useful topics for discussion in classes.

A few weeks ago we noted the passing of Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, whose was noted, among other things, for calling attention to the Gullah communities in South Carolina. Now this essay from Nicole Taylor on Civil Eats discusses the work of other activists engaged in recording, teaching, and preserving the ways of Gullah communities on the east coast.

If you are going to blatantly mix and match foods and techniques from nearly everywhere and do so without any pretense of authenticity and maybe with a whiff of daring, you would probably be Lucky Peach. So we end this digest with a truly astonishing collection of ways to “hack” your dried packet of ramen. We confess to having tried one of these (the ramen fried chicken, with meh results). If you share these with your students—who eat a lot of ramen, for sure—they may think it is the most useful thing you have ever taught them.

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