What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, December 13, 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.

Just in time for Christmas, President-Elect Trump has nominated Ebenezer Scrooge to be Secretary of Labor in his new cabinet. Or at least, that is what Tom Philpott suggests in an article in Mother Jones. Over at Nation’s Restaurant News, Jonathan Maze writes that employers, and especially restaurant owners, are pleased by this nomination.

Policy think tanks and activists like to lay down briefing memos for new administrations. Over at the Stimson Center, Johanna Mendelson Forman and Lovely Umayam have written a brief memo indicating why global food security should be a high priority national security issue for the incoming administration. We are unsure, at this time, if Mr. Trump will take them up on the ideas presented in the memo, but you could use this with students to generate discussions about what, exactly, we mean by national security in the U.S.

On the domestic side of things, Nevin Cohen, Nicholas Freudenberg and Janet Poppendieck, over at the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, provide a list of food policy priorities for New York City-based activists. The list and explanations will be of interest to food activists and scholars elsewhere.

Another analysis of the current situation in the U.S. for food activists comes from Slow Food USA director Richard McCarthy in this article from the Courier-Journal and the linked Mighty Fine Farm and Food podcast.

Fabio Parasecoli explores the intersections of artisanal food, reviving traditions, nationalism, and politics in Poland in this interesting article in The Huffington Post. The revival of tradition and food nationalism is always on the verge of dangerous politics, it seems. There is also an excellent picture of sausage.

How do food activists grapple with questions of race and racism in the United States? Joshua Sbicca and Justin Sean Myers compare two food justice organizations, one in Oakland, the other in Brooklyn, to see how they deal with race and build political projects, in a recent article in the journal Environmental Sociology.

The most recent issue of Human Organization, from the Society for Applied Anthropology, has two articles that could be of interest to our readers. First, Drew Gerkey examines the management of “common resource pools,” in this case reindeer herds and salmon fisheries, in post-Soviet collectives in Kamchatka. This has some important environmental and economic implications that should be of comparative values elsewhere. Second, Kathryn S. Oths, Frank J. Manzella, Brooke Sheldon, and Katy M. Groves draw on research in Alabama in order to look into why different kinds of farmers markets appeal to different sorts of people. This has implications for both the future of markets and for the future of the food movement.

We recently received notification of a new book by Robert Biel, Sustainable Food Systems: The Role of the City (2016, UCL Press). The book is about urban agriculture and food security and we have not read it…but you can download it for free, here. Biel teaches political ecology at University College London.

There are end-of-year best-of lists everywhere and Civil Eats has one that focuses on their favorite food and farm books of the year. It is an intriguing selection.

On the weird side of things, there is this blog posting and video in which Abbie Fentress Swanson enthusiastically describes her food finds at convenience stores in Japan. The selection is, of course, rather different from what one finds in U.S. convenience stores. Swanson provides some context for understanding Japanese enthusiasm for these stores. But watch the video: the food, wrapped in plastic, encased in what looks like soggy bread, is vaguely gray and old…and has, at least through the computer, exactly the same visual appeal as convenience store food in the U.S.

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