Category Archives: SfAA

SfAA CFP: Sustainable Food Futures on Campus

In 2011, Peggy Barlett highlighted the state of campus sustainable food projects, pointing out the growth in dining innovations, student farms and gardens, and curricular and experiential food opportunities. Since then, campus food projects have further integrated critical perspectives, including student food security (Dubick, Mathews, and Cady 2016), food justice (Chollett 2014; Aftandilian and Dart 2013) and food sovereignty education (Meek and Tarlau 2016). This panel is an invitation to mark where we have been and where we are going in order to promote sustainable food futures within higher education and beyond. To gauge the promise of campus food projects, we ask: Are students carrying curricular, co-curricular, and experiential lessons into their post-college lives? What evidence do we have to evaluate the success of campus food projects, including their ability to transform dining service purchasing, students’ relationships to food, student food security, and food justice? Finally, do campus sustainable food projects ultimately promote the larger environmental, economic and social goals of sustainability?

If you’re interested in participating on this panel, please submit a 100 word abstract to Amanda Green at amgreen@davidson.edu by September 28, 2017. Earlier submissions are encouraged!

The panel will be submitted by October 10, 2017, to ensure we meet the final abstract submission deadline of October 15, 2017.

This year’s meeting takes place in Philadelphia, PA, April 3-7, 2018.

Find out more about the SfAA conference here: https://www.sfaa.net/annual-meeting/

 

Aftandilian, Dave and Lyn Dart. 2013. “Using Garden-Based Service-Learning to Work Toward Food Justice, Better Educate Students, and Strengthen Campus-Community Ties.” Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship 6(1): 55-69.

Barlett, Peggy. 2011. “Campus Sustainable Food Projects: Critique and Engagement.” American Anthropologist 113(1): 101-115.

Chollett, Donna L. 2014. “The Native American Organic Garden: Using Service Learning as a Site of Resistance.” Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment 36(2): 93-104.

Dubick, James, Brandon Mathews, and Clare Cady. 2016. “Hunger on Campus: The Challenge of Food Insecurity for College Students.” Available at: http://studentsagainsthunger.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Hunger_On_Campus.pdf

Meek, David and Rebecca Tarlau. 2016. “Critical food systems education (CFSE): educating for food sovereignty.” Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems 40(3): 237-260.

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SfAA Report: Spatial and Temporal Dimensions of Food Insecurity

Colin Thor West
UNC Chapel Hill

Anthropologists from around the world gathered last week at the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) Annual Meeting in Vancouver, B.C. Dr. Colin Thor West (UNC – Chapel Hill) organized a two part session and roundtable titled ” Rural Livelihoods and Food Security: Ground-Truthing Global Progress.” Global assessments by the UN, FAO, WFP and other international agencies indicate we are making substantial progress toward eradicating hunger worldwide. Participants in this session discussed these positive trends but grounded them in empirical case studies. Collectively, members of the panel emphasized that on-the-ground empirical fieldwork is vital for contextualizing this global progress. Below are some highlights from the papers.

Spatial and Temporal Dimensions of Food Insecurity: The Case of Burkina Faso – Colin Thor West (UNC-CH)

Sub-Saharan Africa remains a region where hunger and food insecurity persist. Participatory ethnographic fieldwork among Mossi rural producers in northern Burkina Faso revealed a general sense of optimism that “famines of the past could never happen again.” West used a variety of secondary data to test this perception and see whether food insecurity has decreased and how this compares with other parts of the country. Using GIS, Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) monthly reports, and USAID Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data, his team assembled a time series of food insecurity indicators. These data allowed them to detect spatial patterns and temporal trends in food insecurity from roughly 2000 to 2010. In one example, they found that the prevalence of childhood stunting decreased across all regions of Burkina Faso between 2003 and 2010 (see Figure 1), but that the northern Sahel Region remains an area where stunting rates exceed 45%.

Child Stunting Burkina Faso

Figure 1. Childhood Stunting in Burkina Faso, 2003 and 2010

Ekiuka and Black Death: Comparing Food Insecurity in Tanzania and St. Lucia – Caela O’Connell (NCSU) and Valerie Foster (Cornell U.)

Black Sigatoka disease is a fungal disease that affects banana plants all around the world. Drs. O’Connell and Foster investigate the implications of this hazard for communities in St. Lucia, a Caribbean island heavily dependent on banana exports, and Buhaya, Tanzania where bananas are an important cash and subsistence crop. In both areas, farmers are becoming increasingly threatened by this fungus as climate change creates warmer and wetter conditions that favor its spread. O’Connell’s fieldwork in St. Lucia documented how climate change and natural hazards interact to quickly turn the lingering threat of Black Sikatoka into a catastrophe (see Figure 2). St. Lucia was hit by Hurricane Tomas in 2010. The fungus was once isolated to a small area but torrential rains, landslides, and wind spread it throughout the entire island. The disease devastated banana farms throughout St. Lucia, but O’Connell’s fieldwork showed that some communities recovered more quickly than others. Communities that rely on communal family lands were less financially vulnerable and able to manage the disease outbreak more easily than those who owned their land privately and owed mortgage and loan payments. Family lands were also less susceptible to the fungal pathogen because these irregular shaped fields have natural vegetation buffers surrounding them that limit windblown spores from reaching the banana plants. In contrast, privately owned lands are surveyed blocks of regular polygons that adjoin one another and contain few or no buffers exposing them to more intense infection. Thus, the people farming family land are financially and environmentally more resilient and food secure to this double threat from agricultural disease and climate change.

St Lucia Banana plantation

Figure 2. St. Lucia Banana Plantation after the Huricane, 2012 – Photo by C. O’Connell

Other panelists presented research on efforts to reduce food insecurity in Alaska, North-East Brazil, Mali, East Africa, and Idaho. They include: Dr. Don Nelson (UGa), Jim Magdanz (UAF), Dr. Lisa Meierotta (Boise State), Dr. Tara Deubel and Micah Boyer (USF), Dr. Kathy Galvin (CSU), and Dr. Philip Loring (U Sask). Dr. J. Terrence McCabe (CU Boulder) and Dr. Timothy J. Finan (UofA) additionally participated along with the audience in the round table.

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Applied Food Anthropology in Vancouver

Eugene N. Anderson
UC Riverside

The Society for Applied Anthropology meetings included a very large number of papers on food. Most of them concerned either food security or nutrition programs (often relating to obesity). There were many papers about alternative agricultures, from organic to local and traditional; all such papers supported the local and small-scale as more productive and/or better designed for local conditions than agroindustrial cultivation. 

Many papers concerned Native American groups—called First Nations in Canada—and the need to revive or maintain traditional foodways as an alternative to diets high in processed carbohydrates. We had many First Nations elders and even more students from Indigenous backgrounds.

I went mostly to fisheries papers—SfAA has always had a major focus on fisheries. I started in that area, switching to agriculture and forestry and food history when I found myself teaching at a university in the desert (no fish!). But I get homesick for fish papers, and always go to those at SfAA. Of course fisheries are all about food.

Our own Sol Katz (charter member of CNA, now SAFN) presented a session, with a biologist, on saving genetic resources from marine life. In other sessions, I learned that oysters in Chesapeake Bay have declined 99% under Anglo-American pressure after being maintained for millennia by Native Americans in spite of heavy harvesting. I heard a lot about herring on the Northwest Coast, once a major food resource (locally a staple, or even THE staple), now almost gone. They are processed for roe, which often involves taking the biggest female fish and taking them out of the reproductive pool. First Nations people say these larger herring are necessary because they lead the smaller ones and teach them where to go to feed and spawn; there is now much evidence that this is the case. Salmon are of course the famous Northwest Coast food item, and we heard a lot about those—Steve Langdon reported from Alaska that the Tlingit did a great deal of careful, meticulous stream management, under the direction of elders designated as stream guardians.  Salmon were stocked, and re-stocked after events like landslides. Moving away from salmon, there was a wonderful paper on wild rice among the Anishinabe by a student who is herself a Komi, a reindeer herding minority group (related to Finns) from far north European Russia. And another excellent student paper concerned food taboos in the Upper Amazon, where animals are humans when people aren’t watching them and thus one is always in some sense cannibalistic—this does not inhibit eating most animals, however, since they are in their animal form when being human food. 

One thing that impressed me was how incredibly good the student papers usually were.  We are doing a good job of teaching, in this area at least! Most of the papers I heard, student or otherwise, were data-rich, came to firm and theoretically sophisticated conclusions, and were very well presented, with good visuals. This was especially true of the food papers—some other realms of inquiry were not so well served. (People read dull stuff off PowerPoints, and so on.) 

Applied anthropology is doing very well, and devoted to food among other good causes.

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Filed under anthropology, anthropology of food, applied anthropology, SfAA