What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now: February 2 Edition

February 2: A lot of thought-provoking food news this week, FoodAnthro readers! As always, if you have a link you’d like to share, please email it to LaurenRMoore@uky.edu

First, congratulations to our own David Beriss for being picked up by NPR’s The Salt: New Orleans: A City In The Grip Of King Cake Madness

The National Resources Defense Council wrote about recent research suggesting that, despite media celebration of women in agriculture, there has been stagnation in female farm ownership and income over the last several decades: The Endangered Female Farmer

Civil Eats reported on California’s Grand Plan to Fight Climate Change on the Farm, which includes funding for farmers who implement measures to “contain soil nutrients, sequester carbon, and decrease greenhouse gases.”

From anthropologist Gary Nahbhan, some thoughts on what it means for Tucson to have been named the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the United States: What Will a UNESCO City of Gastronomy Do for Tucson and for Other Cities?

The New York Times published an editorial condemning North Carolina’s “ag gag” law that went into effect Jan 1. It is the most extensive of such laws in the nation, banning whistleblowers at workplaces across the state: No More Exposés in North Carolina

Brentin Mock over at CityLab wrote about history of environmental racism in the United States, and how the crisis in Flint, Michigan is not an isolated incident: If You Want Clean Water, Don’t Be Black in America

Anthropologist Gregory Button follows up on his FoodAnthropology posting on the Flint crisis by putting the water scandal there in the context of other disasters that have impacted food and water: The Flint Water Crisis is Not Within Parallel in Michigan History

There was a lot of controversy recently about a column at The Washington Post arguing that the leaders of the U.S. “food movement” are out of sync with what consumers actually care about: The Surprising Truth About the Food Movement

Civil Eats profiled Dr. Joe Leonard, the assistant secretary for civil rights at the USDA, and how he promotes equality “within a government agency that was built on institutional racism”: The Man Working Behind the Scenes to Bring Racial Equality to the Food System

Following up on a recent story about the fallout surrounding Mast Chocolate, The New Yorker wrote about a growing suspicion of craft food and the people behind it: The Way Forward for Hipster Food

BBC News reported on an interesting study in Israel, showing how different people’s bodies respond differently to the same foods: Why Do People Put On Differing Amounts of Weight?

In a similar vein, Gastropod put out a podcast about The End of the Calorie, which was paired with an article in The Atlantic on the same topic: Rethinking the Calorie

From the Baltimore City Paper, a really moving tribute to Sidney Mintz: The Anthropologist: Sidney Mitz: 1922-2015

Finally, drawing on work by anthropologists (most notably Stephen Le) and other scholars, this article raises some good questions about how we talk about ancestral foods, why we might want to pay attention to historical environmental/human adaptations, and why meals are probably a better to think about than nutrients. Don’t be fooled by the headline, this is neither a call to eat like your actual grandmother, nor like someone’s paleo ancestor: Eat like your grandma: Why you should skip the kale salad

What Food Anthropology Is Reading Now: January 24 Edition

January 24, 2016: Hello FoodAnthropology readers. Doubtless, some of you are getting buried in the East Coast snowpocalypse, and others are closely following the political race in caucus states. We have reads for both groups, and much more:

There were warnings this week for the snow-bound: do not eat the snow. Or, if you do: do not eat the first snow. Studies have shown that snow absorbs toxic pollutants from the air, and it’s possible that the freezing temperatures could cause the release of additional toxic compounds: Snow Soaks Up Toxic Pollutants In The Air, Study Shows

There was also speculation from a number of sources about Americans’ pre-storm panics. Why, given the wide variety of shelf-stable sustenance available, do Americans make a run on milk, bread, and (sometimes) eggs? A 2005 article from the Washington Post describes it as a “symbolic survival schema”–invoking manna and mothers’ milk–while the psychologists interviewed for “Milk, Bread, and Eggs: The Trinity of Winter-Storm Panic Shopping” suggest that the short shelf life of these items offers a psychological promise that storm will end soon. The only anthropologist consulted for the piece reminds us that it’s not just milk and bread: alcohol is also a pre-storm staple for many.

If alcohol was one of your pre-storm bulk buys, you may be interested in article from National Geographic’s The Plate discussing the long history of hangover cures: From Fried Canary to Pickled Plums, History’s Questionable Hangover Cures

In October 2015, cheesemonger Gordon Edgar released Cheddar: A Journey to the Heart of America’s Most Iconic Cheese. The Splendid Table interviewed him recently, and the short interview sheds some light on the history of cheesemaking and, along with it, the US food system: The history of cheddar cheese reflects the development of the U.S. food system

Anthropology News put the spotlight on a forthcoming book that may be of interest to food anthropologists: Eating NAFTA: Free Trade, Food Politics and the Destruction of Mexicofrom anthropologist Alyshia Gálvez: Eating NAFTA

Pacific Standard reported on a dentist-turned-sugar-industry-investigator is using sugar industry archives to prove “that Big Sugar steered scientists away from looking at the ingredients’ harmful effects”: The Former Dentist Uncovering Sugar’s Rotten Secrets

The Atlantic published a series of stunning photographers from a year in the life of an American wheat farmer: Faith, Family, and the American Farmer

Finally, a moment of bipartisan consensus: on the campaign trail Raw Hot Are Where It’s At, as Hillary Clinton munches raw peppers and Jeb Bush makes spicy guac to stay healthy on the go.

What FoodAnthropology is Reading Now: January 18 Edition

January 18, 2016: Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, FoodAnthro readers! There has been quite a bit of new in the past week. If you have a link you’d like to contribute to this round up, please email LaurenRMoore@uky.edu.

Of the reads I bookmarked this week to assign and discuss with a class, I most enjoyed Kate Norquay’s essay on What I Learned from Four Years Working at McDonalds.

The Southern Foodways Alliance had an essay on Tasting Laos in the North Carolina Mountains.

There were three separate pieces on chickens this week. Two focused on change in the poultry industry, the first questioning whether John Oliver’s segment on the poultry industry had an impact on poultry farmers. Politco thinks it might, as some Democratic lawmakers use the publicity to protect growers: John Oliver vs. Chicken

Along those lines, NPR’s The Salt reported on a shift toward cage-free houses for egg production: Most U.S. Egg Producers Are Now Choosing Cage-Free Houses

Last but not least in the chicken round-up, there was a brief report in the New York times on new funding for a research project that could be called “All About Chickens,” which will investigate both chicken past and questions like “how did chickens get associated with Easter?”: Chicken Weren’t Always Dinner for Humans

Netflix just announced a new Michael Pollan documentary, which will be a four-park series “that explores different methods of cooking and their evolutionary and cultural impacts on humankind, with the ultimate goal of ‘[issuing] a clarion call for a return to the kitchen in order to reclaim lost traditions and restore balance to our lives.'”It will debut February 19th: Netflix Announces New Michael Pollan Documentary Series, ‘Cooked’

In food allergy news, there was a recent study suggesting that blood cells found in newborns’ umbilical cords could predict food allergies: Cord Blood Cells Foretell Food Allergy

A bill in California that would have put warning labels on sugary drinks was defeated for the third year in a row, even as some research suggests both widespread support and efficacy: California Soda Warning Label Bill Dies as Research Suggests Efficacy

From the New York Times, Bettina Siegel discusses cultural and political reasons why making U.S. school lunches more like France would be difficult: The Real Problem with Lunch

From Lucky Peach, writer Adriane Quinlan encounters the entire world through the tasting room in the Coca Cola museum in Atlanta. Carbonated ethnography? Around the World in Eighty Cokes

Curated by the Southern Foodways Alliance, Cornbread Nation 2015 is a collection of southern food writing from last year. The best, in fact, at least if the SFA folks are right. Cornbread Nation 2015

As most readers have likely heard, a federal emergency has been declared over contaminated water supply in Flint, Michigan. In the Atlantic, David Graham raises questions about how the state of Michigan ended up poisoning the water supply in Flint and inflicting brain damage on children. Water is of course the essential food and the infrastructure that delivers it in much of the United States is in bad shape, raising the question about whether or not Flint’s problems will occur elsewhere. But this is also a question of democracy and politics, as Graham notes.

For an even more in depth view of the issues in Flint and elsewhere, this article by Alana Semuels, goes into how public policy in Michigan led to this situation: Aging Pipes Are Poisoning America’s Tap Water




What FoodAnthropology is Reading Now: January 10 Edition

Hello FoodAnthro readers, we’ve got a great collection of readings this week. As always, if you have something you’d like to share on a future round-up, please email it to LaurenRMoore@uky.edu.

The federal 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released the 2015-2020 federal dietary guidelines. The official guidelines can be found here. FoodAnthropology will publish a commentary on the changes soon, but in the meantime readers may want to peruse general coverage from The New York Times or check out Civil Eats’ report Shaping the 2015 Dietary Guidelines: A Timeline, which traces how the guidelines came into being.

Alongside commentary and critique of the guidelines, Marion Nestle published an article analyzing the relationship between nutrition research and funding from the food industry. This link is to her blog, but it was also published in JAMA Internal Medicine: Viewpoint: Food-Industry Funding of Food and Nutrition Research

There were some incisive thoughts by Psyche Williams-Forson on the relevance of food and justice to the current American debates about race and justice. While there, check out the entire Food, Fat and Fitness blog, it’s all great: Black Lives Matter, even in Food Justice

Erin Griffith over at PS Mag published a fascinating tale of her experience working at a well-known (but unnamed) American cookie factory: My Summer at the Junk Food Mill

Grist featured a fantastic line up of food writing from 2015–all of the pieces are worth reading, from Cheeseburger Ethics to an article advocating eliminating all tipping in the food industry: The food writing that set my brain on fire this year

From the Financial Times, a story on the “Great British Curry Crisis.” South Asian food in the UK is changing and some see it as a crisis, while other see it as a challenge to evolve with changing tastes, different migration patterns, and new generations of cooks, eaters, and entrepreneurs: The Great British Curry Crisis

From December, there was a Scientific American article about concerns over antibiotic resistance as Antibiotic use in food animals continues to rise 

Finally, there was also a report on new agricultural testing in the United States, examining the impact of microbial seed coatings in hopes of boosting crop production: Microbes added to seeds could boost crop production

What FoodAnthropology is Reading Now: January 3rd Edition

January 3rd, 2016:

Happy New Year, FoodAnthropology readers! Like every December and January, the internet is ringing in the year with lists–lists of old things, lists of new things, lists of bests and worsts. The world of food is no exception. Here are a couple of the most interesting lists I’ve read in the past week, along with our usual selection of good reads:

First, EcoWatch published a list of “16 reasons 2016 will bring positive change to the global food system.” They link to several interesting stories, and I learned (for example) that 2016 has been declared the International Year of Pulses, there was a Johns Hopkins University report linking animal product consumption to global climate change, and later this month the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture will host an international meeting focused on urban agriculture for food security.

NPR’s The Salt reports that artificial ingredients are waning in popularity, food waste is a gaining attention, and foodborne illness remains a significant concern for Americans: The Year in Food: Artificial Out, Innovation In (and 2 more trends)

And the last list, for fun, comes from Whole Food’s predictions of the top 7 foods of 2016, which includes alternative flours, fermented foods, and canned wine: Whole Foods predicts the biggest food trends of 2016

The New York Times featured a story about Spain’s truffle industry, and efforts to increase Spanish demand for truffles: Spain Has Little Appetite for Truffles, but Plenty for the Truffle Trade

With stunning images, the New York Times also had a story about how farmers are shaping water policy in California: Farmers Try Political Force to Twist Open California’s Taps

Changes in labor laws are shuttering cooperative grocers’ work-for-food programs, which have been mainstays of co-op culture since the 1970s: Will Work for Food? Co-Op Programs End Amid Labor-Law Fears

The U.S. Army Institute of Environmental Medicine is recruiting participants for a study on how MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat) influence gut health. Army dietitians have created a special cookbook to help participants consume the “tasteless, if not bad” meals: U.S. Army wants you to eat MREs for 21 days straight

Al Jazeera reported on a study published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology stating that globally, sugar intake is increasing, and other nations are following US trends in their desire for added sugars: World’s diet is getting sweeter, catching up with US

Today, Congress repealed a meat labeling law that had been in place in the US since 2002, and has been challenged by the meat industry since that time. Food and Water Watch described the bill as “a holiday gift to the meatpacking industry from Congress,”though only some segments of the meat industry will benefit from the change: US Repeals Meat Labeling Law After Trade Rulings Against It

Finally, Al Jazeera English released an interesting 25-minute video about Turkish cuisine in Istanbul, describing “how a new generation is keeping Turkey’s centuries-old culinary traditions alive in a modern world”: Istanbul: Turkish cuisine at a crossroads

As always, if you have a link you’d like to share in FoodAnthropology’s weekly round up, please send it to LaurenRMoore@uky.edu.


What FoodAnthropology is Reading: December 29th Edition

Hello FoodAnthro readers, we have just a couple of news items for this week’s round up.

The first, and most significant, is the death of anthropologist and food historian Sidney Mintz. He passed away on December 26 at the age of 93. FoodAnthropology will post obituaries in the days to come, but in the meantime readers might enjoy this article, All Roads Lead to Mintz, published 20 years ago in the New York times. It weaves together Mintz’s work, cooking, and personal history, and ends with three recipes from “the heart of a Mintz.” Readers may also want to peruse Mintz’s website

Second, the internet was in a tizzy this week when students at Oberlin College protested cultural appropriation in the college’s dining halls, requesting “food that does not trample upon the religions and cultures of various countries.” Innumerable news outlets have covered the story, but a couple of takes can be found at the New York Times (“Oberlin Students Take Culture War to the Dining Hall”)The Atlantic (“The Value of the Oberlin Food Protests”), and The Atlantic (“A Food Fight at Oberlin College”) again.

Finally, readers may also be interested in Ellen Messer’s December 28th post on the Food Policy Blog, “Two Pats and patriotism: Striving for a world, country, and communities without hunger.” The post remembers two heroes in the fight against hunger, Patricia Kutzner and Patricia Young.

If you have a link you’d like to include in the weekly link roundup, please email it to LaurenRMoore@uky.edu.

What FoodAnthropology is Reading Now, December 20th Edition

December 20, 2015: 

Food Tank put together a list of their 15 favorite books from the last year, which includes sure-to-be-classics on agriculture, food politics, and food security: Food Tank’s Favorite Books of 2015

From the NY Times, a piece on drought in Iran, which is destroying food source, in particular the pistachio crop, and changing the way people live: Scarred Riverbeds and Dead Pistachio Trees in a Parched Iran

A study in Environmental Science & Policy, Investing in the Transition to Sustainable Agriculture, revealed USDA underfunding of sustainable agriculture, and was summarized by the University of Hawaii: Agriculture study shows need for more sustainable agriculture research funding

I recently discovered Nordic Food Radio, a “humanistic and scientific” blog and podcast dedicated to international food and the “edible potential of the Nordic region.” Recent episodes include The New Old Superfood, about the resurgence of the chaga mushroom, and I would kiss them before I eat them, about the Sami practice of insect eating.

While you’re cueing up the podcasts, you can also add A Short History of India’s Distinct Food Habits, a production of The Real Food Podcast in which “mythology expert Devadutt Pattanaik goes back in time to trace the origins of India’s food habits.”

Finally, reporting on allegations that a $10-a-bar chocolate company had been remelting mass-produced chocolate and selling it under their name, an article at qz examines How the Mast Brothers fooled the world into paying $10 a bar for crappy hipster chocolate –certainly a fascinating study in food branding, distinction, and the questions that come with specialty food labels.

If you have a story you’d like to share with other FoodAnthropology readers, please email the link to LaurenRMoore@uky.edu.


What FoodAnthropology is Reading Now, Dec 15 Edition

Happy December 15, everyone! Here are some of the interesting things we read this week. If you have a link you’d like to share, please email it to LaurenRMoore@uky.edu. Thanks to those who have contributed links!

Anthropological research was in the news this week, with recent findings tracing millet’s path through Eurasia, showing how nomadic groups combined millet with foraging in hilly regions: Millet: The missing link in prehistoric humans’ transition from hunter-gatherer to farmer

Food scientists at Cornell University published research showing that eating with coworkers can positively affect working relationships: Breaking Bread With Coworkers May Boost Work Performance, Team Collaboration

BBC Radio 4 features a Food Programme, and the current episode is on “Food Museums” and is a fascinating look at how they display and curate their contents. Visiting France? Don’t miss the prune museum!: Food Museums

Though I missed it in my Thanksgiving round-up, there was an interview with anthropologist Merry White about Thanksgiving history and traditions: Anthropologist Explains Evolution of Thanksgiving

A new book, Food and Femininity, examines “how women negotiate food ideals and practices in their everyday lives”: A Full Plate: Rutgers-Camden Researcher Explores Food and Femininity in New Book

Eater had a fascinating article about how American vegans and vegetarians are taking on “butcher culture”: How Vegans and Vegetarians Are Redefining Butcher Culture

The USDA has an ongoing “Women in Ag” series, with monthly interviews of women in agriculture. This month features Dr. Lois Wright Morton, professor of sociology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University: In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Dr. Lois Wright Morton

In honor of Hanukkah, we have a short history of latkes from 2011 (along with a recipe for delicious-sounding cheese latkes): Discover the History of Latkes During Hanukkah

Food52 has a fun interactive map of “Cookies of the World”: Cookies of the World

It’s dated, but still fascinating: Smithsonian Magazine has a history of eggnog, originally published in 2013. Did you know it involved West Point cadets and a riot?: Egg Nog: It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Starts a Holiday Riot

And, finally, National Geographic had an article about how changing diets are impacting Japan’s rice cultivation: As Diets Change, Traditional Japanese Rice Harvest Declines


What FoodAnthropology is Reading Now: December 6 Edition

December 6, 2015:

For the Paris climate talks this week, an article in The Conversation argues that food–production, consumption, and everything in between–must be part of the climate conversation: The elephant in the room at Paris climate talks: why food production must change

There was an interview with Drs. Luz Calvo and Catrióna Esquibel,two ethnic studies professors who authored a cookbook called Decolonize Your Diet, which promotes a return to indigenous foodways for Latinos: How to Decolonize Your Diet: The Importance of Indigenous Foods

For Thanksgiving, the Southern Foodways Alliance published a touching reflection on service-industry work and the holidays: Blue Collar Holiday

And, while we are thinking about those who labor for our food, NPR took a look at the labor behind half of the United States’ sweet potato crop, which comes out of North Carolina: Behind Your Holiday Sweet Potato Dish, Hard Work in the Fields

There was a book review essay on several novels related to restaurant industry work that takes a few swipes at professional food writing. It goes beyond consumption and calls attention to the work of the restaurant industry, saying “now is the time for a more critical, intelligent, and politically aware food writing—one which is willing to leave behind its tired emphasis on customer satisfaction, and which at long last takes up the task of representing service labor for what it is. Imagine a writing that makes space for other ‘classic waiter questions,’ like, ‘could you please look me in the eye when you speak to me?’ or ‘could I please have health insurance?‘”: On Writing and Restaurant Labor

Huffington Post featured a piece by Krishnendu Ray discussing the links between restaurant labor, the making of “ethnics,” the framing of “ethnic food” and his work in general. This is a good intro to how one undermines the very concept of ethnicity with food: Taste, Toil, and Ethnicity

In response to a recent E.Coli outbreak, Chipotle may roll back its local sourcing practices: Chipotle Tightens Standards Amid E. Coli Outbreak, Putting Buy-Local Pledge in Jeopardy

Researchers from Rice University have developed a method to distill alcohol with sunlight, rather than heat: Move Over Moonshine–Here Comes Sunshine

And finally, for fun, McSweeny’s offers this satire on food habits, on the relentless search for big data, on modern consumption, etc. The drones are coming. Tell Us How We Did With Your Order of Egg Whites and Avocado Wrap

If you have a link for the FoodAnthropology round up, please email it to Lauren Moore at LaurenRMoore@uky.edu.

What FoodAnthropology is Reading Now: November 29th Edition

November 29, 2015: Once again, there were more great food reads this week than could be included in one post. Here were some of my favorites. If you would like to share an article with other FoodAnthropology readers, please email it to LaurenRMoore@uky.edu.

There was an article about the decline in breakfast cereal consumption in the United States, as children identify less strongly with cereal characters and health trends favor Greek yogurt and hot cereals: Breakfast Cereal’s Last Gasp

I recently discovered the work of Michael Twitty, who is a scholar of “the foodways of Africa, enslaved African Americans…and the African and Jewish diasporas” and has a fantastic blog, Afroculinaria. Two pieces I enjoyed this week were A People’s History of Cornbread Stuffing, written for Vice with a companion post with pictures on Twitty’s blog. Then, for some Thanksgiving-related humor, Twitty also authored the satire post How to Survive Black Thanksgiving as a Non-Black Guest.

Through Twitty’s work, I discovered Vice’s food channel Munchies, which offers a satisfying array of deep-diving journalism, recipes, and entertaining pop articles (recovering from stressful holiday travel? You might sympathize with this woman who drank a whole bottle of cognac rather than surrender it to the TSA). Of their more serious work, there was a recent piece titled Cooking with Muxes, Mexico’s Third Gender, and a look at The Silent Epidemic Behind Nicaragua’s Rum.

The New York Times reported on recent genetic work suggesting that agriculture did more than increase rates of malnutrition and infectious disease. It has also been linked to broader DNA changes, including changes that altered height and skin color: Agriculture Linked to DNA Changes in Ancient Europe

There were two great pieces about the history of leftovers–first, An Economic History of Leftovers written by historian Helen Veit at The Atlantic. Then, Dr. Viet was interviewed at FoodTank about her work: Researching the Remains: A Leftovers Q&A with Food Historian Helen Veit

Treehugger profiled a new agricultural robot that uses environmental sensors to monitor plants and weed fields: This car-sized autonomous farm robot smashes weeds to death

Though it was released last year, readers may still be interested in this podcast on The Anthropology of Pie, by Stuff Mom Never Told You.

Sociological Images, at The Society Pages, the fantastic and prolific sociology blog, pulled up an old piece for their “Flashback Friday” series that may still be of interest here: Anorexia Mirabilis: Fasting in Victorian England and modern India. They also posted 23 Thanksgiving Food Facts, for fun.

Food writer Elizabeth G. Dunn wrote about The Myth of Easy Cooking, offering a brief history of the cookbook industry and the contemporary intersection of busy lives and a “food culture” in which an iceberg lettuce chopped and tossed with mayonnaise (quick cooking from the 1950s–and truly easy) is unacceptable.

With criticism for research that strategically downplayed the role of Coca-Cola’s sugary beverages in obesity, there was news that Coke’s top scientist is stepping down: Coke’s Chief Scientist, Who Orchestrated Obesity Research, Is Leaving

Finally, there was a piece in The New Yorker about Asian-American cooking that profiled several cookbooks and  an upcoming PBS documentary Off the Menu, and reflects on the role of cookbooks in our lives. The author writes, “the belief that we can better understand one another by eating each other’s food quietly underwrites an increasingly expansive vision of American cuisine. Whether we can actually consume our way to cultural comprehension is, of course, another question entirely. And what if it’s your own culture you’re trying to understand?”: Chinese Food and the Joy of Inauthentic Cooking