Author Archives: atrubek

CFP for EASA2018 in Stockholm: Moving on: Food Futures and Reimagining Uncertainty

Does your research look at food practices, food supply chains, local
cuisines or agriculture in a changing environment? Does your work draw
broadly on the themes of temporality and orientations toward the future –
practices of anticipation, anxieties, food security, planning or
uncertainty? If yes, you are warmly invited to submit an abstract to our
panel ‘Moving on: Food Futures and Reimagining Uncertainty’ (P033) and come
meet us in Stockholm at the EASA’s Biannual Conference ‘Staying, Moving,
Settling’ from 14 to 17 August 2018.— Moving on: Food Futures and Reimagining Uncertainty (P033), a panel of the EASA Anthropology of Food network
This panel addresses how food ‘moves on’ across time and space, borders and
bodies. From everyday practices to overarching value systems, we consider
foodways as human contemplations of the future: as sources of uncertainty,
as cushions against it and as speculations in search of opportunities.
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Byron Fellowship for Undergraduate and Graduate Students

This short and intensive leadership fellowship might be of interest!

The Byron Fellowship program is available to 20 upper class undergraduates, graduate students, and “recent” graduates from throughout the world by application. Prospective Fellows are evaluated based on their demonstrated academic, civic, and professional leadership. The Foundation is interested in a renaissance in the health of human and natural communities.

Fellowship Opportunity

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What is Good Food? Anthropologists, historians and economists in conversation

What is Good Food? Five episodes of delicious stories and conversations about how we know what we eat is ‘good’. This podcast series is produced by a group of food researchers, and our conversations are based on papers presented at a food research workshop organised by the SOAS Food Studies Centre and University of Warwick Food GRP. 

Via itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/what-is-good-food/id1309980803?mt=2 

Via soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/whatisgoodfood

Episode 1 wonders whether the past is tasty through a conversation about food history and heritage in Macau and Ghana.

Episode 2 asks who decides what is good food: governments, markets, men, women or children, with examples ranging from London to India.

Episode 3 “tastes like a piece of heaven” and features a conversation about farming and ways of knowing in the US and Bangladesh.

Episode 4 explores “real food” in and around farmers markets in Shanghai and in food education in Taiwan.

Episode 5 features a conversation about the construction of value, with stories about ox meat and bread from Croatia and Morocco.

Comments here on the blog or via the host websites are very welcome!

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CFP ASFS Panel in June 2018: Food on the Move

 

Shayan Lallani and Kerri Lesh  are looking for a third panelist who might be able to fit their panel theme of “food on the move.” This is for submission to the ASFS/AFHVS annual conference from June 14-17 in Madison, Wisconsin. 
Kerri Lesh writes: Both of our abstracts involve food as a product that travels and or changes over the course of time.  Here are our abstracts:

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Food Insecurity and Chronic Malnutrition in Rural Indigenous Guatemala

SAFN GUATEIMG_1

With the title, “Latinx Foodways in North America,” we aim to put the series in a more international perspective, inclusive of the United States, Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and Canada. Here we introduce Dr. Meghan Farley Webb’s informative piece on fieldwork methods and nutrition with indigenous communities in rural Guatemala. Her work illustrates the global framework of this series. Enjoy!

Food Insecurity and Chronic Malnutrition in Rural Indigenous Guatemala

Wuqu’ Kawoq | Maya Health Alliance is an NGO providing high-quality, evidence-based health care in indigenous communities in Guatemala. Guatemala is especially affected by chronic malnutrition, or stunting, with some Maya communities experiencing stunting rates of seventy-five percent.1 As part of our Complete Child program, we have undertaken several mixed-methods studies to explore why stunting remains a problem in Maya communities.2-3 Food insecurity, common in rural indigenous communities, contributes to the persistence of stunting in Maya communities. In some communities where we work, all households experience moderate to severe food insecurity, as measured by the FANTA Food Access and Insecurity Scale. The FANTA scale provides a quick (only nine questions) and cross-culturally reliable means of assessing household food insecurity. The scale pays special attention to the issue of reliable access to healthy food.

Poor Feeding Indicators & Food Availability

Twenty-four hour food recalls are an important tool in nutritional assessment, but they have been shown to underestimate caloric and dietary diversity in Guatemala.4 Our investigations show similar problems, in part because most rural communities have a once weekly market where diverse fruits and vegetables can be purchased. Little access to refrigeration means that nutritionally diverse foods are often not available during the week. While seven-day food frequency questionnaires report higher quantities of fruits and vegetables, children’s diets remain deficient in dairy, flesh foods, eggs, and vitamin-A rich foods. Use of these questionnaires—which query the frequency of consumption of culturally relevant food items, divided into WHO food groups—is imperfect, as it may over- or underestimate consumption of some items; however, we find they provide an accurate general assessment of dietary diversity.

In contrast to the limited availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, pre-packaged junk food is readily available in tienditas (small corner stores). Focus groups and ethnographic interviews reveal that the ease of preparation of pre-packaged foods as well as children’s requests for junk foods and their relative low cost were additional drivers for the consumption of low-quality, processed foods. The proliferation of junk foods—sometimes referred to as “coca-colonization”5—means that Guatemala must simultaneously work to combat both stunting and obesity.

Poverty & Food Expenditures

In addition to this limited access to high-quality, nutritionally diverse foods, our research shows how endemic poverty contributes to food insecurity. We use the Quick Poverty Score to assess poverty in the communities we serve. The tool uses locally relevant “poverty indicators” to assess the likelihood that a household member is at or below $2 USD or $1USD/day. It is unsurprising that many households in rural indigenous Guatemala experience high levels of poverty. On average food expenditures are low, often so low that it would be impossible to meet caloric and micronutrient needs. Our research shows that underemployment and agricultural cycles result in high variability in income, and therefore, limit money available to spend on food.

Non-Traditional Agricultural Exports

Stunting rates remain high even in agricultural communities for two reasons. First, many households do not own enough land to sustain domestic production. Second, many rural agricultural communities have shifted from milpa (corn and beans) production to production for export. In the Guatemalan highlands, broccoli, snow peas, green beans, and blackberries have replaced traditionally grown and locally eaten crops. The shift to non-traditional agricultural exports negatively impacts dietary diversity not only because of a loss of subsistence crops, but also because growing these non-traditional exports often requires taking on significant debts for seeds and other agricultural inputs. Non-traditional agricultural exports have further worsened the conditions of food insecurity as the majority of rural Maya farmers do not report economic benefits to growing these crops. This is due in large part to the practice of selling crops to middlemen, rather than directly to exporters.

Programmatic Implications & Additional Research

Our research has shown how economic and environmental factors contribute to food insecurity and chronic malnutrition in rural indigenous Guatemala. Programs aimed at improving nutritional outcomes in indigenous children must also address cultural factors. For example, focus groups and numerous clinical interactions have demonstrated the importance of secondary caregivers, especially paternal grandmothers. Multi-generational family compounds mean that mothers, at whom most nutritional programming is aimed, may not be fully in control of food purchasing and/or preparation decision making. Home-based nutritional counseling offers one way to address barriers to improving nutritional outcomes in infants and young children. Internal evaluation of our nutritional programming and a recent clinical trial demonstrate the effectiveness of such intensive, home-based nutritional counseling to improve dietary diversity, minimum acceptable diet, and height/length-for-age. More information about our research, including copies of our published work and training materials, can be found here.

Meghan Farley Webb is a Staff Anthropologist with Wuqu’ Kawoq|Maya Health Alliance.

 

1 Black, R. E., C. G. Victora, S. P. Walker, Z. A. Bhutta, P. Christian, and M. Onis. 2013. “Maternal and child undernutrition and overweight in low-income and middle-income countries.”  Lancet 382. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(13)60937-x.

2 Ministerio de Salud Pública y Asistencia Social, Instituto Nacional de Estadística, and Secretaría de Planificación y Programación de la Presidencia. 2015. Encuesta Nacional de Salud Materno Infantil 2014-2015: Innforme de Indicadores Básicos. Guatemala City: Ministerio de Salud Pública y Asistencia Social (MSPAS).

3 Chary, Anita, Sarah Messmer, E. Sorenson, Nicole Henretty, Shom Dasgupta, and Peter Rohloff. 2013. “The Normalization of Childhood Disease: An Ethnographic Study of Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala.”  Human Organization 72 (2):87-97.

4 Rodriguez, M. M., H. Mendez, B. Torun, D. Schroeder, and A. D. Stein. 2002. “Validation of a semi-quantitative food-frequency questionnaire for use among adults in Guatemala.”  Public Health Nutrition 5. doi: 10.1079/phn2002333.

5 Leatherman, T.L. and A Goodman. 2005. “Coca-colonization of Diets in the Yucatán.” Social Science and Medicine 61(4):833-846. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.08.047

Photo provided by the author and Wuqu’ Kawoq:

Image 1: A vendor sells fresh produce in the market. Most rural indigenous communities in Guatemala have only one market day a week.

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A clarification and a comment from the editor

We are pleased to have a post from Kerri Lesh, the organizer of the AAA panel on terroir as an anthropological matter. Kerri is doing fascinating work on language, culture and terroir in the Basque region of Spain. Also, in my earlier post I should have attributed the point that terroir can be understood as “condensed sociocultural matter” to Anne Lally (University of Buffalo), also a member of our panel.

This week, we will also post the next contribution to Sarah Fouts’ monthly series on Latinx Foodways in North America. This series is moving south, and the next posting by Meghan Farley Webb will look at food insecurity with indigenous communities in Guatemala.

If you are interested in adding to our rich conversation about the anthropology of food and nutrition, please let us know! We would love to have more contributors.

Amy Trubek

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More on taste and terroir

Terroir at its Roots:  From Panel to Publication

Kerri Lesh, University of Nevada-Reno

Amy Trubek began the New Year by writing about the annual meeting of AAA, and in particular, our panel on terroir. It was a truly eye-opening panel, showing the influences terroir has as anthropological matter in various geographical regions. To piggy back off of Amy’s recent post, we covered a lot of ground in our presentations.  Here’s how my own interest to develop a panel started…

I have attended the AAA for the past several years, and each year I noticed a panel or presentation on terroir. It was always of interest to me as my own research involves the study of food and wine, and as I’ve worked in various positions of the food industry along with just about every stage of wine-making. As a PhD student attending AAA conferences, it was enlightening to learn about the various ways in which this French word has evolved as a concept, supported by pillars that integrate both physical and social elements. I became curious to know why this word was being used across languages and cultures in ways that created value, why it at times has been difficult to define, and the importance of it within food anthropology.

My own research, which intersects at language and food, led me to consider the ways in which the word terroir was being translated into Basque culture. The Basque Country, which in part covers a section of southwest France, is home for speakers of Euskera. I noticed that translations of the word terroir were increasing within the wine-producing regions of the Basque Country—known as Euskadi or Euskal Herria—but that there is yet a uniform translation. This led me to believe that these interpretations in their many forms embodied the translators’ preference for which element of the concept should be stressed, vacillating between the physical and social components that help define it.

In my own fieldwork, I observed that referencing the social components related to a product often occurred to distinguish it within its “sense of place”. To me, this indicated that translated uses of terroir relied on the importance of the social components of this culture as much as the physical ones, if not more.

To prepare for AAA 2017, organizing a panel seemed like a good way to learn even more about how often other researchers were coming across this word, what product or idea it was promoting, and how this idea was being conveyed in other spheres throughout the world. What I found through our panel with Anne Lally, Carole Counihan, Sharyn Jones, Daniel Shattuck, and Amy Trubek, was that this notion, although usually pertaining to food in its place, encompassed ideas that give us a lens to magnify issues that revolve around identity, ecology, health, and morality.  Perhaps it is the difficulty in defining this word that allows it to become such a useful tool for investigating such matters.  Stay tuned as we hope share our findings by developing our panel into a publication soon!

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