What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, November 11, 2016

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.

We are late this week, largely because of the shock wave produced by the U.S. elections. In fact, most of what we have this week relates to reactions to that election. During his campaign, Donald Trump did not speak much about food policy. But there are clues about what might be coming. Here are some links to articles that explore those clues, as well as the mood in the country in general.

First, over at Eater, Virginia Chamlee has written an analysis of the sorts of policies Trump may pursue on food policy related issues, like labor (and minimum wage), agriculture (and farm workers), farmers, food assistance, and other issues.

Not everything was presidential. Soda taxes were passed in a few places, which may turn out to be a good move for public health. Anna Lappé has written about that here.

And check this out: in a few places (Maine and Flagstaff, Arizona), tipped workers will no longer have to work for a lower minimum wage. Progress.

Nation’s Restaurant News provides a different perspective on the impact of Trump’s election on that industry here.

Like a lot of people, the folks at The Racist Sandwich Podcast are at least temporarily in shock this week. But you should nevertheless check out their web site and podcast, which may be of even greater interest than usual in coming months.

Sylvia Grove, who teaches at Susquehanna University, had her students write about US politics and Thanksgiving. Three of the op-eds produced by the students are available on The New Food Economy web site, here, here, and here. Enjoy.

Back in early October, the New York Times Magazine ran an issue devoted to food in which Michael Pollan reviewed the Obama administration’s food policies. You may want to read it in preparation for what is to come.

Food Tank, a food think tank, is holding a meeting in Chicago where a number of people will be discussing food policy. The event is sold out…but they will be live streaming it. Details here.

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SAFN at the AAAs in Minneapolis

2016_program

Our section has an exciting lineup of sessions and panels at the upcoming AAA conference in Minneapolis. We have a number of new events and a few changes to annual events. We are thrilled to be co-sponsoring a career development workshop with Karen Kelsky on Thursday. Following this session, there will be a casual networking event where junior scholars can meet and chat with senior scholars.

This year we are holding our business meeting on Friday separate from our reception. We hope this will help us get more business done on Friday and have more time on Saturday to socialize with colleagues and friends.

We’ll see you in Minneapolis.

 


Special Events

Thursday, 10:30am ACADEMIC AND POST-ACADEMIC CAREER DEVELOPMENT FOR PRE-DOCS: KAREN KELSKY TAKES ON PROFESSIONALIZATION

Are you coming up for promotion? On the job market? This is a great opportunity to get expert advice on how to put your best foot forward. SAFN is co-sponsoring this professional development workshop with the renowned academic consultant Karen Kelsky of the “The Professor is In” fame. Preregistration is required for this highly subsidized event. Seats are still available. Grab them while they last.

Thursday, 12:15pm NETWORKING AND MENTORING IN THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF AGRICULTURE AND FOOD

Come meet up with your favorite anthropology of food and nutrition scholars. Ask questions about teaching, research, career paths and come to make new connections! This is a casual mentoring event co-sponsored with C&A.

Friday, 12:15 pm SOCIETY FOR THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF FOOD AND NUTRITION (SAFN)  BUSINESS MEETING (4-0680)

This is the first year we have decided to hold our business meeting separate from our reception. Bringing your lunch and get involved with your section. We are looking for people to join the executive board and a number of committees. We want to hear your thoughts on where SAFN is going and what we should be doing to engage academics and the public in thinking about the anthropology of food and nutrition.

Saturday, 7:45 pm SOCIETY FOR THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF FOOD AND NUTRITION (SAFN) DISTINGUISHED SPEAKER, AWARDS, AND RECEPTION (5-1170)

Please come by to socialize with fellow SAFN members and to enjoy tasty food and drinks at our reception. There will be a presentation of student awards and our distinguished speaker Lisa Heldke will give a talk entitled “It’s Chomping All the Way Down: Guts, Dirt and Fundamental(ish) Metaphysical Concepts”.


Panels and Sessions

Wednesday

Wednesday, 2:00 pm PROVISIONING COMMUNITIES: MATERNAL, CHILD AND SENIOR FOOD SECURITY (2-0165)

Thursday

Thursday, 8:00 am GROWING, FEEDING AND COOKING: ANTHROPOLOGIES OF FOOD WORK (3-0070)

Thursday, 4:00 pm FOOD AND NUTRITION POSTERS (3-1305)

Thursday, 4:00 pm TASTE AND THE MEDIATION OF VALUE, AUTHENTICITY, AND POLITICS (3-1215)

Friday, 10:15 am EXPLORING EVIDENCE, ACCIDENTS, AND DISCOVERIES IN CRITICAL FOOD SYSTEMS EDUCATION: PART II (4-0450)

Friday, 1:45 pm THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF FOOD AND NUTRITION IN INSTITUTIONAL CONTEXTS (4-0955)

Saturday

Saturday, 8:00 am AN ANTHRONOMIC APPROACH TO UNDERSTANDING AND SOLVING SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEM CRISES (5-0135)

Saturday, 4:00 pm WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUNGRY IN THE UNITED STATES: A LOOK AT FOOD ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS ACROSS THE COUNTRY (5-0995)

Sunday

Sunday, 8:00 am GLOBAL FOOD AND COMMUNITY IDENTITY (6-0080)


Many thanks to our program chairs Joan Gross and Abigail Adams for their hard work in putting this program together.

Follow us on Twitter @foodanthro during the AAAs! safn-logo-small

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SAFN 2016 Distinguished Speaker Lisa Heldke

Please join us for the SAFN reception and distinguished speaker on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 7:45pm at the AAA conference in Minneapolis. This year our distinguished speaker is Lisa Heldke, Professor of Philosophy at Gustavus Adolphus College. Prof. Heldke’s work explores the philosophical significance of food, which she explores in her book Exotic Appetites: Ruminations of a Food Adventurer, two co-edited volumes Cooking, Eating, Thinking: Transformative Philosophies of Food and The Atkins Diet and Philosophy, and numerous articles.

lisa-heldke

The title of Heldke’s talk is “It’s Chomping All the Way Down: Guts, Dirt and Fundamental(ish) Metaphysical Concepts”. The following is an amuse bouche that will hopefully whet your appetite for the talk:

How are we to understand the concepts of individual, and of person, in the age of the microbiome? We are awash in news accounts of research into the microorganisms that live on our skin, in our guts and in the soil. We learn that humans play host to more individual non-human organisms than we have cells of “our own,” and that those organisms play vital roles in essential processes such as digestion. The deep interdependence between humans and our microbiotic “guests” has led biologist Scott Gilbert to declare, “we are all lichens”—that is, “multicellular eukaryote[s] plus colonies of persistent symbionts.”

But symbiotic “lichen personhood” tells only part of the story of what it means to be a biological individual. Another, crucial, part is this: our bodies may end up playing host to a set of parasitic guests who deplete our hospitality and sicken or even kill us. Parasitism is not an inessential, accidental, or infrequent occurrence. Furthermore, the distinction between parasite and symbiont is neither sharp nor static; today’s symbiont may be tomorrow’s parasite. A conception of personhood must not simply acknowledge but also absorb this feature of existence.

Taking parasitism to be metaphysically relevant and instructive challenges the dualisms that dominate western metaphysics, in particular the self/other dualism. The parasite, taken both literally and figuratively, calls us to refabricate models of personhood that have rested on this tidy division. The result is a relational ontology with teeth.

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Anthropology of Food, the Journal

The latest issue of Anthropology of Food is now available. The theme is “Food Cultures and Territories” and it includes articles by and interviews with SAFN members. This is an open access on-line peer-reviewed journal. You can read the articles in the latest issue here. Previous issues are on the web site as well.

Just to be clear, despite the name, the journal is not affiliated with SAFN.

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Mezcal: Hybrid Authentication

The third in our series of abstracts of papers submitted for SAFN’s annual Christine Wilson Award. Winners have been selected and will be recognized at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association. From Nicolas Fabien-Ouellet, this one raises important questions about what, exactly, is being preserved in efforts to insure that foods maintain their “authenticity.”

Mezcal: Hybrid Authentication

Nicolas Fabien-Ouellet
University of Vermont

How can foodways thrive in a global market and still maintain their local characters? In January 2016, students from the UVM Food Systems Graduate Program went to Oaxaca, Mexico to study such challenges. During our stay, we met Adolfo who showed us the art of making “authentic” mezcal, that iconic drink of the Mexican terroir some say has the potential to provide the economic incentives needed to repopulate Oaxacan communities impacted by outmigration. This micro-macro analysis deconstructs the “authenticity” dimension of mezcal production, to expose authenticity as a flexible social construct that resembles social branding. By incorporating ethnographic elements, the authenticity branding is coupled with Adolfo’s hybrid approach of production to suggest a way to foster community economic development: concurrently producing a hand-made, “authentic” mezcal for locals and tourists visiting Oaxaca, and another that is scaled-up to capitalize on the global market economic opportunities by convincingly putting the “authentic” Mexican terroir in the people’s mouths around the world. This paper argues that in order to protect Adolfo’s foodways, the aim should not focus at preserving mezcal itself, but primarily at preserving communities where mezcal is produced, and that the mezcal denomination of origin (DO) should be reformed accordingly.

mezcal-production

“Authentic” Mezcal Production: Mezcaleros cutting cooked agave piñas. In the background the open vessels made of an entire cow hide where the crushed piñas are mixed with water for the fermentation process.

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What Else Ho Reha Hai? Reflections On My Fieldwork Website

Several of us here at the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition recently had the pleasure of reviewing submissions for our annual Christine Wilson Award. Winners have been selected and will be recognized at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association. It is common to say all the submissions were great, but, in fact, they were and we want to call attention to that fact by publishing abstracts of all submissions. This is the second abstract from the competition we are posting (the first one is here). This one comes from Abby Golub and reflects on fieldwork in a bakery in Belgium. One of the more striking features of this particular research is the use of various kinds of media, from a blog to videos. There is a link to some of that below.

What Else Ho Reha Hai? Reflections on my Fieldwork Website

Abby Golub
KU Leuven

This paper analyses the effectiveness of a website to display and develop fieldwork about a bakery. As it stands, the website was published before the bakery declared bankruptcy, and conveniently avoids mention of conflicts with the boss, making mistakes, hierarchy, gender, and how the bread is pleasant to make but not my favorite to eat. Despite these omissions, the website serves as a celebration of friendship and optimism. It accurately portrays my daily experience in the privileged position of an international, part-time student-worker and anthropologist. Videos of the baking process couched within a recipe immerse viewers in virtual field notes. Analytic entries explain the significance of language and timing in the bakery. The name of the website itself, “Pistolet Baking Ho Reha Hai,” means “Pistolet Baking is Happening,” and was inspired by my colleague’s singing. This name demonstrates the use of primarily Hindi grammar mixed with the English word “baking” and French word “Pistolet” applied in a Flemish context, here meaning “bread roll.” To facilitate daily communication, bakers often repeated ideas and instruction in different languages or in singing voice. This language use, friendly interaction, and learning appear front and center in the videos. Ideally the website will launch further sharing and reflection on diverse work experiences.

Please enjoy, and email me or comment directly if you have input or questions at this web site.

golub-at-bakery

Author engaged in participant observation (Photo by Jeet Sherpa)

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What FoodAnthro is reading now, October 31, 2016

Here are a few food and nutrition-related items that we’ve been reading recently. Do you have items you think we should include? Send links and brief descriptions to dberiss@gmail.com or hunterjo@gmail.com.

Starting with the juxtaposition of extreme famine and extreme…what’s the word for it? I’m not sure… In Nigeria, people are experiencing the famine in previous breadbaskets, as a result of the insecurity caused by Boko Haram:

When aid groups did start to get access to some cities in Borno this past summer, they were shocked by what they found. People were eating grass and locusts. The rates of severe acute malnutrition — a life-threatening lack of food — were among the highest in the world. About half of all children were malnourished.

So here’s the opposite:  I found myself being sucked into this story about Amanda Chantal Bacon’s Mood Juice (!?):

I turn over the empty sleeve and read the ingredients — organic astragalus, ginseng, organic eleuthero, organic schisandra, rhodiola, and organic stevia — and realize I’ve only heard of approximately one and a half of them.

As out there as Moon Juice seemed, there are commonalities to be found in the extremes, and I found this essay helped me avoid my instinctive snigger reflex and claw back a little empathy:

It is, in its weird, obsessive way, against every ethos that makes California the American promised land of endless sun, delicious vegetables, and not fearing the reaper; and yet, it is quintessentially Californian in its cultish belief in a paradise on Earth.

Moon Juice seems to represent to a world in which every meal has to be multilayered masterpiece, something the phenomenon of craft butcheries seem well-poised to speak to:

“There’s this meat fetishizing and narcissism in which we feel like we deserve to have the greatest incarnation of meat every time we eat it, instead of prioritizing things like the farmers, accessibility, and cost,” he says.

The UN has a special representative on the right to food, who spoke last week of junk food as a violation of the right to adequate food:

Hilal Elver, the U.N.’s special representative on the right to food, said Tuesday the rise of industrial food production combined with trade liberalization has allowed large corporations to flood the global market with cheap, nutrient-poor foods that force poor people to choose between economic viability and nutrition, effectively violating their right to adequate food.

The challenge is improving access to nutritious food. Two articles this week speak, from two different perspectives, about how urban farming doesn’t seem to be a standalone solution to access to good food, yet they’re still a powerful tool for community engagement.

Despite these barriers, our 2016 study into the state of urban farming showed that huge positives can come out of these spaces. For example, urban farms often act as a social incubator, bringing together communities and connecting cultures. Many also impact significantly on health and well-being, allowing city-dwellers to access fresh food and sometimes even supplement diets.

“I don’t believe community gardens contribute much to food access, but they certainly do build community and highlight the need for fresh food,” said cultural anthropologist Dr. Howard Rosing.

As South Africa pushes to institute a sales tax on sugary beverages, it was interesting— and perhaps unsurprising to me— to find that Coca-Cola is probably going to be just fine, either way.

To respond to consumers’ growing aversion to the sweetener, the company is offering smaller bottles and cans — essentially getting customers to pay more for less product. It’s also creating new brands and reformulating existing drinks to cut sugar. Coca-Cola says the shift will actually increase sales, and the company’s third-quarter results on Wednesday backed up that confidence.

And finally, news of Chipotle’s woes have reached us here in South Africa, and this article provided a fascinating in-depth view of the company. It’s a long read, but it’s worth it. Author Austin Carr framed their problems this way:

When a listeria outbreak caused by Dole’s packaged salads was linked to four deaths last year, the public outcry was not nearly as intense or sustained (despite an ongoing federal investigation). When Tesla reported its first driver fatality while using its Autopilot feature last June, it didn’t affect the company’s stock price at all. Why were these deaths only blips for Dole’s and Tesla’s reputations? By contrast, Chipotle spent a year in hell even though no one died—and more than 265,000 Americans get sick annually from illnesses linked to E. coli.

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