What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, March 14 2017

Jo Hunter-Adams

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.

As paleo diets don’t seem to be going away, this recent Atlantic article about research on Neanderthal diets was interesting. Based on dental plaques, the paleo diet seems to be: eating whatever was available. You can also check out this article from The Salt on the findings. Vegetarian paleo diet. Interesting stuff.

It’s also a great counterpoint for the next couple of articles: where scientists try to hack alternatives to sugar (all the good stuff, none of the bad?), our villain-du-jour. Here, the question seems to be: how do make things healthy without actually changing anything? The world of neurogastronomy has a slightly different premise in this article. That is, how do we change our cravings so fundamentally that people don’t want sugar at all? Over at Statnews, they follow the FDA process of trying to figure out who gets to claim “healthy” as their thing.

On the subject of improving our diet by complex trickery, the Salt also had this article about not trying to trick our kids into eating their veggies. Bee Wilson has a new book out about taste, check out this interview to get a sense of the book.

I found this article on recreational use of cough syrup fascinating, as the market is relatively small, but the product seems almost designed for recreational (rather than medicinal) use.

Lastly, Brexit is bringing really significant changes for food and farmers in Britain and beyond. This excellent blog about it helped me understand the ways that the Brexit motivation of trying to remove regulation, will, as far as we can tell, increase the bureaucratic burden for farmers in the UK.

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SAFN and AAA 2017: Sessions, Papers, Posters!

The Society for Anthropology of Food and Nutrition (SAFN) would like to invite colleagues to submit sessions and poster presentations for this year’s 116th AAA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC (November 29 – December 3, 2017). You can submit here:

https://www.conferenceabstracts.com/cfp2/logincustom.asp?EventKey=TWAPLBWD

The Society welcomes innovative, well-rounded sessions, strong individual papers, and posters representing the full range of topics food and nutrition anthropologists are concerned with. In particular, however, we especially welcome submissions that engage creatively with this year’s conference theme “Anthropology Matters”, which calls for anthropologists to employ their critical skills to address contemporary issues of social injustice, health and well being, and environmental challenges. Frankly these themes seem tailor-made for research related to food and nutrition.

The deadline for Invited and Volunteered Panel, Individual Paper, Roundtable Sessions, and Poster Submissions is Friday, April 14, 2017 at 5pm EDT

We will select several sessions/roundtables among those submitted for review by SAFN for designation as INVITED. These are generally cutting-edge, directly related to the meeting theme, or cross sub-disciplinary. SESSION proposals should include a session abstract of no more than 500 words, keywords, anticipated attendance, as well as the names and roles of each presenter. Individual presenters must also submit their own abstracts (250 words), paper title and keywords via the AAA meeting website. ROUNDTABLES are a format to discuss critical social issues affecting anthropology. No papers are presented in this format. The organizer will submit an abstract for the roundtable but participants will not present papers or submit abstracts. A roundtable presenter is a major role, having the same weight as a paper presentation.

More information on proposal submission types, rules for submission and participation, and access to the online portal can be found on the AAA website, here: http://bit.ly/2m4GuVj

PLEASE NOTE, one way to increase your and our presence at the meetings is to have co-sponsored invited sessions between SAFN and another society. Invited time is shared with the other sub-discipline, and the session is double-indexed. When prompted during the submission process, please select additional AAA sections for review if you think that we should be in contact with them about possible co-sponsorship.

If you are considering proposing a session with us, have any questions, or are looking for additional presenters to make up a session, please do not hesitate to contact the 2017 Program Committee members at Abigail Adams (Chair): adams@ccsu.edu ; Amanda Green amagreen@gmail.com ; Ryan Adams adamsr@lycoming.edu

Abigail Adams
Chair, Program Committee
Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition

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CFP for AAA session – Bienestar: Transition and Wellbeing amongst Mexican-origin Farmworkers

CFP for AAA session

Bienestar: Transition and Wellbeing amongst Mexican-origin Farmworkers.

Session Abstract
As U.S. food production has grown increasingly industrialized, the consolidation of small family farms into larger, and often vertically-integrated farming operations has grown more commonplace. Since the end of World War II, these consolidation and industrialization processes have been spurred by a growing influence of large-scale agricultural corporations that now dominate the majority of food production and distribution in the United States and abroad. Alongside this consolidation, hiring laborers from off the farm has become the primary strategy of meeting the production needs of farming operations where labor needs exceed local labor availability. Foreign-born workers labor in nearly all sectors and scales of the food system, from the smallest family farms to the largest corporate food operations, from diversified farms to enormous dairy operations. In a nation where the food industry accounts for 13% of the total Gross Domestic Product, the contribution of farmworkers is clearly significant to the nation’s overall economic wellbeing (FCWA 2012). Despite the significance of farmworkers in upholding the national agricultural economy, the economic conditions of farmworkers remain substandard.
The growing reliance on nonfamily farm labor since the end of World War II has been significant, with the ratio of hired farmworkers to total farmworkers growing from 1 in 4 in 1950 to 1 in 3 in 2014 (Kandel 2008, Hertz 2014). Today, nearly 80% of American farm workers are foreign born, and approximately 50% of farm workers are living and working in the U.S. without legal work permits (USDA). While the majority of farm workers are foreign born, most no longer migrate in the traditional sense. Farm workers today travel in smaller circuits, and often settle and raise families in rural communities. Most farm workers now live within a 75 mile radius of their place of employment. Border security policies have contributed significantly to this demographic shift, as families choose to stay together as undocumented laborers rather than risk the perils of border crossing (Hamilton and Hale, 2016).
In this session, we seek to explore the “well-being” of Mexican-origin farmworkers currently living in the United States. We include several geographic locations and a variety of agricultural industries across the U.S. In each of our papers, we consider how race, gender, age, geography and immigration status intersect with markers of well-being. Markers of well-being include: food security, access to health care and equal protection under the law. One commonality amongst our research is a process of transition. Transition can include the physical movement of farm workers, shifting farm worker demographics (include immigration status, gender, age and ethnicity). Furthermore, demographic transitions in our agricultural labor force must be contextualized within the broader arena of rapidly changing immigration policies and laws on national, state and local levels.

Session Organizers:
Teresa Mares, University of Vermont
Lisa Meierotto, Boise State University
Rebecca Som Castellano, Boise State University

If you are interested in submitting a paper to this session, please send an email expressing interest as soon as possible, and plan to submit a paper abstract to Lisa Meierotto by April 1st.

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What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, March 7, 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.

Here in New Orleans, we have just finished the Carnival season and have entered into the austere period of Lent. But in the rest of the United States, people are apparently still struggling to sort out the difference between serious stuff and the Carnivalesque. Witness, first, this very serious New York Times column by Frank Bruni, which asserts that people should stop criticizing President Trump’s desire for well-done steak with ketchup. In case you think that Bruni is desperate for something to write about, it seems that concerns over the President’s steak are part of a broader cultural critique, as this article by the editor of Eater.com makes clear. I wonder if we could interest President Trump in some Gulf seafood instead of steak, at least until Easter.

Of course, at FoodAnthropology we are in no position to criticize anyone who takes food seriously. Yet we do have to wonder what we might be missing while thinking about President Trump’s well-done steak and ketchup. For instance, there is this article, by Brian Barth, that looks into the deeper ambiguities of farm labor in the United States. Why is food cheap? One major factor is that food is grown, harvested, and processed by poorly paid and deeply exploited workers. Many of them are the undocumented migrants the new administration wants to deport. Certainly, the plan to deport people seems unjust, but as this article suggests, questions of justice—about wages, working conditions, and more—are far deeper than debates about immigration status would suggest (as we have noted before here on the blog, of course).

The most recent episode of Evan Kleiman’s KCRW radio program “Good Food” is devoted to immigration issues across the food industry, including immigrant restaurants, slaughterhouses, farms, farmers markets, and more. And there are points of view from across the political spectrum as well. Get your students to listen and start a discussion.

In the context of a new administration that wants to emphasize building and buying American, should we reevaluate the food movement’s obsession with the local? Read, for instance, this fascinating article about efforts to make the food provided on University of California campuses sustainable. In this version, “sustainability” is apparently defined by being produced in California. There is quite a lot of food produced in that state, but some things, like coffee, are generally not grown there. Is it more “sustainable” to find a way to grow coffee in California? Or are there arguments for some kinds of globalization worth considering?

Where you get seated in a restaurant matters. Ruth Reichl noted this in her famous review of Le Cirque in 1993, when her experience of dining in disguise and dining as the New York Times food critic led to rather different experiences. But the politics of the dining room can be complicated by any number of factors, including race and gender, and not only in the most famous fine dining establishments. Read, for instance, this brief, but ethnographically detailed piece by Osayi Endolyn on her experiences as a hostess in various restaurants. You will never look at restaurant dining rooms innocently again.

After the recent elections, many pundits suggested that the Democrats paid insufficient attention to suffering in rural America. This dovetails with many of the critiques leveled by food activists in recent years, who argue that failing to pay attention to who produces our food—and in what kind of conditions—is a major problem. This critique is also shared by James Rebanks, an English sheep farmer, who has traveled through rural America and suggests that the industrialized model of farming is problematic at many levels. His critique is similar to the analyses documented by Susan Carol Rogers in her article about the relationship between French agriculture and the French nation.

On a related note, there are also presidential elections in France, coming up in just a few weeks. In an obligatory effort to avoid being accused of neglecting rural France, the candidates make a point of showing up for the enormous agricultural exposition in Paris. This article from NPR examines the thinking of French farmers on the upcoming election…and if you read the Rogers article we cite above, this whole thing makes complete sense.

France is often the example we turn to when we want to point out a country that has not abandoned all the good things—meat, dairy, bread—in favor of one or another fad diet. Indeed, according to one study, only 37% of French people exclude some item (like meat or gluten) from their diet, compared to 64% of people worldwide (44% in Europe, 50% in North America, 84% in Africa and the Middle East). But this is changing, according to this fascinating article from Le Monde (which is where the statistics come from). It seems that the “individualization” of the French diet has led to all manner of interesting changes in what people will eat. Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of this article is the fact that it never addresses religion, which is what probably motivates most people around the world to avoid particular foods and an area that has been especially fraught in France in recent years. This could be a great article for discussion with your students, but it is in French.

And while we are on the topic of fad diets, food scholar Emily Contois has recently published an article about food blogs that strive to create new ideas about nutrition, related to gender, class, and ethnicity. And food porn. She has written an extended description of the article on her blog, which you should read.

Here is a nice little piece by Amanda Yee on the African-American shoe box lunch. These were lunches packed for African-Americans traveling across the U.S. prior to the Civil Rights Act, when segregation meant that dining opportunities were rare. Nicely written, with a few good photos too.

It is fitting that we end this week more or less where we started, with some musings on the literary fate of restaurant criticism, by Navneet Alang. Alang riffs off of the work of Elijah Quashie, aka the Chicken Connoisseur, a London-based critic of fast-food fried chicken shops in the UK. Quashie’s reviews, which are available on YouTube, are wonderful in and of themselves, but for Alang, they represent a pivotal moment in the history of restaurant criticism. The tension between snobby elitism and populist fried chicken echoes certain themes in recent UK and US politics. Enjoy.

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JOB – SOAS, University of London

A job search announcement that should be of interest to our readers. Note that the position is essentially at the rank of assistant professor and that food systems and food security are areas of specialization of particular interest for this position. 

The Department of Anthropology and Sociology at SOAS, University of London invites applications for a Lectureship in Anthropology tenable from September 2017.

You will be expected to convene and teach core theory and optional regional/thematic courses in social/cultural anthropology at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, to carry out and publish research of the highest quality and assume normal administrative tasks associated with a Lectureship.

Skills and experience

You must have a PhD in Social or Cultural Anthropology and a record of excellence in Anthropology research as evidenced by high quality professional publications. We are primarily seeking a candidate with teaching and research interests in anthropological theory,  methodology and history. In order to support, supplement and complement the department’s existing work, preference will be given to candidates with a specialisation in one or more of the following areas: medical anthropology/mental health, migration and diaspora, ecology/environment and/or food systems and food security. Candidates should have regional interests in any of the main areas covered by the School – Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East. It is expected that you will have expertise relevant to the vision and strategy of the School, including a strong interest in issues of particular importance to the developing world.

Further information

Prospective applicants seeking further information may contact the Head of the Department, Dr. Kevin Latham via e-mail at: kl1@soas.ac.uk. Further information about the Department can be found at: http://www.soas.ac.uk/anthropology/

As an employer of choice SOAS offers an extensive benefits package including:

  • 30 days holiday plus bank holidays and School closure days, pro rata for part time staff
  • Pension scheme with generous employer contribution
  • Various loan schemes including season ticket loan, IT equipment loan
  • Cycle to Work Scheme
  • Enhanced Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Pay provisions, childcare voucher scheme, financial childcare support

To apply for this vacancy or download a job description, please visit www.soas.ac.uk/jobs

Completed applications must be received by 23:59 on 4th April 2017 to be considered.

Interviews will provisionally be held in the week commencing 1st May 2017. 

If you have any questions or require any assistance with regard to the application process, please contact hr-recruitment@soas.ac.uk .

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Graduate Journal of Food Studies Issue 5

Received from Emily Contois, this is both a great looking journal of interest to FoodAnthropology readers, but an opportunity for graduate students to publish. Check it out!

We are thrilled to share with you the fifth issue of the Graduate Journal of Food Studies (vol. 4, no. 1), which launched today online. This issue features four original research articles, four book reviews, and three creative pieces in the Journal’s new section, Food-Stuff:

Articles

  • Jessica Galen, “Cheesemongers Over Fearmongers: Toward Data Driven Cheese Recommendations for Pregnant Women”
  • Victoria Albert, “Quinoa: The Development of the Modern Export Market and its Implications for the Andean People”
  • Claudia Raquel Prieto Piastro, “Keeping Kosher in Tel Aviv: Jewish Secular and Religious Identity in Israel”
  • Kendall Vanderslice, “Making and Breaking: An Embodied Ethnography of Eating”

Food-Stuff

  • Noah Allison, “Migration and Restaurants: Mapping America’s Most Diverse Thoroughfare”
  • Emely Vargas, “Dear Mom: Teach Him How to Cook, Not Me”
  • Jonathan Biderman, “Inside Tsukiji: A Very Real Wonderland” 

Reviews

  • Sarah Huang: Nora McKeon, Food Security Governance: Empowering Communities, Regulating Corporations
  • Rituparna Patgiri: Ursa Ray, Culinary Culture in Colonial India: A Cosmopolitan Platter and the Middle-Class
  • Alexandra Rodney: Julie M. Parsons, Gender, Class and Food: Families, Bodies and Health
  • Daniel Shattuck: Ronda L. Brulotte and Michael A. Di Giovine, Edible Identities: Food as Cultural Heritage

We hope that you enjoy this edition of the Journal, and welcome your support to share it widely:

  • Forward this email to interested parties at your institution and within your networks.
  • Share the Journal on Facebook with this link: bit.ly/GJFS-5 or share the GAFS Facebook announcement on your personal page.
  • Share the Journal on Twitter. Tweet, retweet GAFS tweets, or use sample tweet: Check out @GradFoodStudies’ newest issue of the Graduate Journal of #FoodStudies: bit.ly/GJFS-5 #GJFS5

We also invite you to:

We also welcome submissions for future issues of the Journal. Please visit our submission guidelines for more details. 

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Conference Report: Scales of Alimentation between Europe and Asia: Connections, Syncretism, Fusions

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Pierre Raffard explaining the doner kebab phenomenon’s relation to labor, ethnicity, religion, and culinary politics.

Looking at both instances of culinary incorporation and fusion and the rejection of influences from foreign food cultures, can reveal a great deal about topics as disparate as migration processes, the exercise of human agency, the reach of the nation-state, population power dynamics, and the various impacts of economic growth. Food trends and changes to food production and consumption also have obvious impact on human health, the environment, quality of life, and other conditions. Scholars gathered from France, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Turkey, the UK, and the US to discuss such themes at a conference in Paris, France on February 23rd and 24th titled Scales of Alimentation between Europe and Asia: Connections, Syncretism, Fusions. Specific foods and foodstuffs “served” for discussion included kimchee, doner kebab, Bulgarian yogurt made in Japan, Mongolian-style dumplings, chop suey, and the mobile sweet “bibingka.” Overarching questions and debates included: How can globalization be productively used to understand processes of change and influence at a scale larger than countries and regions? What determines which elements people will incorporate, keep, change, and reject? What common patterns stand out when we look at culinary creolization, hybridization, and the like across time and space? What allows for differences in the dietary transition and (how) can later developing countries minimize the negative impacts currently underway?

 

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Shiamin Kwa presenting about offal (those parts not labeled on poor Pikachu!), chop suey, American menus, and social ideals and insecurities.

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