What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, August 25, 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.

It is the end of the summer, but it certainly does not feel like it. Indeed, it is hot as heck and it is driving us bananas here in New Orleans, which was once the banana capital of the country. Maybe we still import a lot of bananas here, but they do it differently in New York, as this charming article from the New York Times outlines. Great way to follow the hidden circuits of food distribution.

Many SAFN writers and readers were in Los Angeles for the annual food studies conference earlier this summer. While there, we tried to take in as much of the vast foodscape that the city offers. It is hard not to be swept up in the ever-changing tide of food trends offered by the city’s high end dining, or the amazing diversity of foods available from every community that makes up that metropolis. But it is worth looking at the city’s food history too, as this fascinating article about the city’s “vintage” bars and restaurants and efforts to revive or preserve some of them. It is by Besha Rodell, who you may have met at the conference and includes some great photos of those very same vintage restaurants.

We have mentioned Michael Twitty’s new book, “The Cooking Gene,” here before. But this review, from James Norton at the Christian Science Monitor, provides a nice overview of the book, if you are wondering whether to read it. You can also listen to an interview with Twitty on the radio show “On Point.” It seems like this book has rapidly become an essential part of the heated American national debate about race, history, and society.

Alert contributor Leedom Lefferts has sent in a selection of readings that really underline something curious about the concerns we might have with our food system in the U.S. and elsewhere. This article, from the Raleigh (NC) News Observer focuses on child labor in farm labor. Meanwhile, in the same state (North Carolina), they are celebrating the new freedom to purchase alcohol with Sunday brunch, presumably to allow the vegetables picked by children to go down better.

What is going on with the American obsession with striving to be thin? You know it is all wrapped up with ideas about morality, gender, social class, and a lot of other things. This article, by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, puts the diet movement into historical perspective and examines current trends, while adding in an absolutely stunning set of personal insights. This would be a solid read to start off a class discussion…and you should read it whether you use it for that or not.

Why do people in the restaurant industry have so many problems with addiction? Brittany Bronson looks into this question in this op-ed from the New York Times and makes a few suggestions about what can be done.

When you drink your craft beer or enjoy some “third wave” coffee that was carefully selected by a bearded hipster, are you erasing the contributions of people of color to the making of those foods? More directly, would the experience of artisanal products be enhanced if we knew the more complex stories behind them, stories that often involve people of color? Lauren Michele Jackson develops this argument in this article about race and craft food culture that appeared on Eater. She mentions in passing the efforts made by Fawn Weaver to get Brown-Forman to recognize that the original master distiller of Jack Daniels was a black man and slave named Nathan Green, which you can read about here.

This has been a truly bizarre summer and if the daily news persists to be beyond belief, it will be a bizarre and vaguely threatening fall as well. So in the spirit of adding a little levity, here are a few items to consider. First, this blog from Sierra Tishgart, on Grub Street, in which the author Alissa Nutting explains her very strange eating habits. Note that she likes hotel rooms with two beds, one for her, the other for delivered pizzas. Next, what happens when the people at Blue Apron get tired of shopping and cooking for you? Read this world-weary piece, then settle in with a warm Budweiser and a bag of pretzels. Finally, perhaps the most French thing we have ever posted here, this piece from Le Monde, in which six non-French graphic novelists each produce a brief graphic story about French cuisine. French food comics. Pure fun.

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