What Foodanthro is Reading Now, August 3, 2017

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.

In South Africa, efforts to resist the mining agenda continue, in part through using the land for agriculture:

Living on the northern-most portion of the Wild Coast of South Africa, the coastal Amadiba villages have been resisting the proposed Xolobeni Mineral Sands Project for over ten years through directly confronting attempts to mine, and have also used the very land that is under threat of destruction as a weapon in creative ways. These tactics show us powerful forms of resistance to the state’s political project from above.

If you don’t have space but want to farm animals, would you consider dormice?

There’s dormouse stuffed with pork and its own trimmings, then pounded out with pepper, laser (the juice of a giant fennel plant), broth, and nuts; after, this concoction is put in a casserole dish, roasted, or boiled. Not a bad way to chow down—especially considering the mice were extra-succulent after hanging out in their own special jar.

Here’s an article about really old potatoes. Apparently North Americans were eating potatoes 10,000 years ago! On the subject of potatoes, there was this recent celebration of Eva Akblad:

Today Google’s Doodle – which is visible all around the world – is celebrating the relatively unknown Eva Ekblad, the Swedish scientist who rescued the spud from being the rarefied preserve of the aristocracy and made it into the useful and common stuff we know today.

On the subject of UK farms, there is the challenges of surviving brexit and supplying more of it’s own food, combined with the imperative to supply food with a low carbon footprint:

So carbon footprinting is a blunt tool, but it still has much to recommend it (when combined with environmental subsidy based on outcome, as per above). Anecdotally, producers have told me that the process of engaging with it, and therefore of trying to enable a smaller carbon footprint, has led to greater efficiencies across the food chain. Examining one element of environmental cost leads to an engagement with all of it.

Also in the context of Brexit, this article in the Guardian talks about the rise of mega farms:

Leaving the EU provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to shape our farming industry so it works for the UK and helps our farmers grow more world-class food. We are determined to make a success of it, but we will not compromise on our high animal welfare or environmental standards, and we will always protect our proud and varied farming traditions.”

This article about Princeton’s “farminary” was beautiful and reminiscent of Wendell Berry:

The physical labor of farming provided respite from all that talking and feeling—and offered new lenses through which to process it.

Although the writer’s qualify their results quite a bit this article about the Mediterranean diet, it’s super interesting that experiences of the diet differ by socio-economic status:

The researchers tracked participants in the Moli-sani Project for an average of four years, and found that adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with an approximate 60 percent reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease – but only for those who had education beyond high school or a household income greater €40,000 (approximately US$47,300) annually.

Over on NPR’s The Salt, a chef presents a compelling picture of the glaring blind spot in the farm-to-table vision:

Farm-to-table’s sincere glow distracts from how the production and processing of even the most pristine ingredients — from field or dock or slaughterhouse to restaurant or school cafeteria — is nearly always configured to rely on cheap labor. Work very often performed by people who are themselves poor and hungry.

Lastly, over at vice, one of my favourite articles this week was about clean eating and the ways it reinforces diet culture. There’s a lot of great lines, but here is just one:

And yet throughout these books – the very same ones that tell us to locate our self-worth not in how we look but in who we are and how we feel – there is a consistent, entrenched fear of fatness. When Deliciously Ella allays our fears that “things like avocados and almonds will make you fat,” she leaves that foundational anxiety around fatness intact as a valid concern.

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New Zealand Symposium of Gastronomy Deadline Extension

A quick update! The deadline for submissions to the 11th New Zealand Symposium of Gastronomy has been extended to August 15, 2017.

 

Everyday: New Zealand Symposium of Gastronomy

Christchurch, November 25th & 26th, 2017

Symposium Theme: Everyday

 

Organizers:

Sam Hassibi (University of Canterbury)

Amir Sayadabdi (University of Canterbury)

Everyday food and food-related activities are important, yet often taken-for-granted parts of our everyday lives. The biological imperative that makes eating a necessity often makes us look at it as a mundane practice. Cooking, too, especially in its ‘domestic’ context, may seem insignificant and uninteresting. Shopping for food, chopping and washing ingredients, and cleaning up after a meal rarely seem poetic or even important. However, the very everydayness of these activities reproduces meaningful cultural symbols and social practices, depicting individuals’ or societies’ relationship with different issues ranging from nutrition, health and hygiene to gender norms, intimate socialities, national identity and memory. By looking at the everydayness of food-related activities, we come to understand how societies routinely feed and reproduce themselves, and therefore, we get a better understanding of their cultures, their past, present, and future. By observing and studying everyday food-related practices, habits, and values that are constantly being passed in ordinary kitchens from one generation to the next, we can open a window to also understanding non-everyday foodways such as those practiced in sacred rituals, mourning, and celebrations.

We welcome scholars, cooks, armchair gastronomers and food enthusiasts to present their research, discuss their viewpoints, and be a part of the 11th New Zealand Symposium of Gastronomy with the main theme of ‘Everyday’, to be held inChristchurch (25 & 26 November, 2017).

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Everyday cooking/eating practices
  • Food and identity (gendered, national, etc.) in everyday life
  • Everyday food choices
  • Historical, cultural and economic aspects of everyday food
  • Fast food and slow food
  • Routinization of everyday life
  • Everyday food and ethics
  • Everyday food and memory
  • Everydayness and Non-everydayness
  • The production, cultivation and distribution of everyday food
  • Politics of everyday food

The deadline for submitting an abstract (max 150 words) and a short biographical statement (max 100 words) has now been extended to Tuesday, August 15th, 2017. You can submit your abstract to either Sam or Amir (or both) at:

saman.hassibi@pg.canterbury.ac.nz

amir.sayadabdi@pg.canterbury.ac.nz

We will also be happy to answer any questions regarding the symposium.

Notification of acceptance will be sent out by Thursday, August 31st, 2017.

There will also be a ‘historic cooking’ workshop on the afternoon of the 24th of November, during which Sam and Amir will lead you through cooking some historic Middle Eastern dishes based on centuries-old recipes. Attendance in the workshop isfree of charge for registered symposiasts. More information about the workshop will follow in September.

Please feel free to spread the word!

More information about the symposium.

If you have a CFP you would like to feature on the blog, please contact Ruth Dike.

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Robert M. Netting Best Student Paper Prize

Check out this opportunity for money and publication from our friends at the C&A section of the AAA’s for their student paper competitions. Feel free to apply or pass onto to your students!

The Culture and Agriculture section of the American Anthropological Association invites anthropology graduate and undergraduate students to submit papers for the 2017 Robert M. Netting Award. The graduate and undergraduate winners will receive cash awards of $750 and $250, respectively, and have the opportunity for a direct consultation with the editors of our section’s journal, CAFÉ (Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment), toward the goal of revising the winning papers for publication. Submissions should draw on relevant literature from any subfield of Anthropology and present data from original research related to livelihoods based on crop, livestock, or fishery production, forestry, and/or management of agricultural and environmental resources. Papers should be single-authored, limited to a maximum of 7,000 words, including endnotes, appendices, and references, and should follow Chicago format style.

Papers already published or accepted for publication are not eligible. Only one submission per student is allowed. Submitters need not be members of the American Anthropological Association but they must be enrolled students (Note: students graduating in the Spring or Summer of 2017 will also be eligible). The submission deadline is September 1st, 2017 and all submissions should be sent to Nicholas C. Kawa via email at nckawa@gmail.com

 

If you would like to post a CFP on the blog, please contact Ruth Dike.

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Some Pig

David Beriss

What is it we fear most in our food supply in the post-industrial West? Food shortages? Industrialized food? Genetic manipulation? Ecological disaster? Globalized food systems? The idea that we are either in or rapidly approaching some sort of food-related dystopia is certainly widespread, yet relatively hard to define. Wandering the aisles of American and European supermarkets, overflowing with astonishing plenty, it is hard to imagine what fuels our fears. Yet there is no doubt that many people have at least a nagging sense that something is deeply awry. There is a huge literature to reinforce those fears, of course, and a filmography to stoke our imaginations.

The film Okja, directed by Bong Joon-ho, puts many of our contemporary fears into one neat package. It is the story of a big corporation’s effort to develop and market a genetically modified pig in a way that will make it appealing to the masses (an effort remarkably similar to Chipotle’s little films). To do this, the company distributes baby pigs to farmers around the world, who will raise them for ten years. The pigs, now “localized” thanks to the farmers, would then be celebrated and turned into food. The film focuses on one pig, named Okja, raised in Korea by a young girl, Mija, and her grandfather, in an idyllic mountain setting. The fully-grown Okja dwarfs hippos, but frolics in the forest in a way that is reminiscent of a very large and exceptionally intelligent dog. In fact, Okja is clearly Mija’s companion and not livestock. This proves to be a problem when the corporation comes to collect the pig.

In addition to the first two elements of the food dystopia—the evil corporation that controls our food supply and the genetically modified animal—the film also depicts cruelty to animals by buffoonish corporate scientists and the horrors of industrial slaughterhouses. This being a neo-liberal horror film, the government is present only in the form of police enforcing the will of the corporation (although there are also private mercenary goons in the pay of the corporation, because that too is part of a good dystopia). Okja is taken by the evil corporation, first to Seoul, then to New York, for study, celebration, and marketing. Mija, determined to rescue her friend, sets off in pursuit. She is aided, and betrayed, by a group called the Animal Liberation Front. There is an element of Citizen Ruth in the struggle between the corporation and the ALF activists for Mija’s loyalties.

In the end, capitalism wins, although not in an entirely predictable way. The film is depressing, hopeful, and a little funny. There is no sense that Mija’s struggle to save Okja will prevent the coming food dystopia, even if she may get to carry on her idyllic forest farm life. The film points to the ways we are manipulated by corporations, as they greenwash their products so that we can feel comfortable buying them. It suggests that the efforts of groups like the Animal Liberation Front are engaged in a futile struggle (although this review, from the real ALF, suggests they do not see it that way). It also may raise the hackles of anyone engaged in food science. It might—or might not—be an argument against eating pigs.

No doubt everyone in the film gets what they deserve, except, of course, the pigs. Or maybe not. Show it to your students and see what they think. Since it premiered at the Cannes film festival last spring, it has been available through streaming on Netflix. Be sure to watch until the very end of the credits.

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SAFN Award Deadlines Extended!

SAFN is pleased to announce that we are extending the deadlines for both the Christine Wilson Award and the Thomas Marchione Award to July 28, 2017.

Thomas Marchione Award

Honoring the seminal academic and humanitarian work of Thomas J. Marchione, this award is given to an MA, MS or Ph.D. student whose active engagement in food security and food sovereignty issues continues and expands Dr. Marchione’s efforts toward food justice, food access, and food as a human right. The award can be in recognition of exemplary work completed or in progress, or for proposed work in the field of food as a human right and the social justice aspects of food systems.

Ideally, the recipient will be working towards, in Dr. Marchione’s words, “the best and more sustainable approaches to fulfill the right to food.” There will be one annual award of $750 (this will include a 1 year student membership to the American Anthropological Association and the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition).  The award may be for proposed or in-process research or a research prize for completed work. 

Eligibility: Open to Masters and Doctoral level students who will have completed their coursework and research proposal by the time of the annual American Anthropological Association meeting in the discipline of anthropology or allied fields (e.g. sociology, food studies, nutrition, etc.).  Students already engaged in relevant research, action or advocacy may apply in acknowledgement of their accomplishments.  Proposals must be focused on migrant and/or refugee communities in the United States or on developing world countries.

For more details on the award requirements, please visit: https://foodanthro.com/thomas-marchione-award/

NEW DEADLINE: JULY 28, 2017

Submit your application to Amy Trubek via email at atrubek@uvm.edu.

Christine Wilson Award

 The Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition is pleased to invite students to submit papers in competition for the Christine Wilson Award. This award is presented to outstanding undergraduate and graduate student research papers that examine topics within the perspectives of nutrition, food studies, and anthropology.

Papers may report on research undertaken in whole or in part by the author. Co-authored work is acceptable, provided that the submitting student is the first author. Papers must have as their primary focus an anthropological approach to the study of food and/or nutrition and must present original, empirical research; literature reviews are not eligible. Papers that propose a new conceptual framework or outline novel research designs or methodological approaches are especially welcome. Winners will be recognized and presented with a cash award at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association and receive a year’s membership in SAFN.

Students (undergraduate or graduate) must be currently enrolled or enrolled during the past academic year. The text of papers should be no longer than 25 pages, double-spaced and follow AAA style guidelines.

The text of papers should be no longer than 25 pages, double-spaced and follow  AAA style guidelines.  Please delete identifying information and submit along with the CWA cover sheet.

NEW DEADLINE: July 28, 2017

Submit your application to Amy Trubek via email at atrubek@uvm.edu.

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What FoodAnthro is Reading Now, July 11th 2017

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.

Alex de Waal wrote recently about famine as a weapon of war, in historical context:

Drawing on a long Anglo-American tradition of economic warfare and blockade, the counter-humanitarian trend in London and Washington is both morally distasteful and practically stupid. When international aid fails to feed the hungry and treat the sick, extremist projects flourish. If security strategists and xenophobes think that humanitarian crises will burn themselves out at a safe distance they are mistaken: the biggest demographic outcome of famine has always been migration

Roxane Gay’s moving piece on her size is taken from her recent book Hunger: A Memoir Of (My) Body  :

Today, I am a fat woman. I don’t think I am ugly. I don’t hate myself in the way society would have me hate myself, but I hate how the world all too often responds to this body. It would be easy to pretend I am just fine with my body as it is. I’m a feminist and I know that it is important to resist unreasonable standards for how my body should look.

This piece of research on junk food challenged the stereotype that the poor are eating more junk food (at least in high-income countries). The not-so-great finding is that, in fact, everyone is eating lots of junk food:

the guilty pleasure of enjoying a McDonald’s hamburger, Kentucky Fried Chicken popcorn nuggets or Taco Bell burrito is shared across the income spectrum, from rich to poor, with an overwhelming majority of every group reporting having indulged at least once over a nonconsecutive three-week period.

Sometimes regulated away, deemed unsafe, or forced into various grey areas, one of the most important sources of food here in South Africa, and across much of Africa, are informal. This recent article highlighted the vital role of informal traders in supplying African cities with both food and employment:

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that the average size of the informal market as a percentage of GDP in sub-Saharan Africa is 41%. This ranges from under 30% in South Africa to 60% in Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The informal market is also one of the biggest employers, accounting for 72% of non-agricultural employment in Africa. It is therefore an important source of income for many and enables financial independence, especially for women.

I am always amazed by the complexity of global food systems. This recent report from Chatham house represents a major piece of work on “chokepoints” in the food system, points at which disruptions in the food supply potentially affect how food moves around the world:

Moreover, these risks are increasing, driven by three distinct trends. First, dependency on chokepoints is growing (see Figure 2). For example, in the past decade and a half the share of internationally traded grain and fertilizers passing through at least one of the maritime chokepoints has increased from 43 to 54 per cent. A smaller but nonetheless significant share – 10 per cent – now depends on transit through one or more of the maritime chokepoints as the only viable shipping route, up from 6 per cent in 2000.

The report fails to make any mention of increasing food sovereignty, or instituting policies that reduce dependence on a handful of crops. They do mention the need for developed countries:

to reform trade-distorting farm support. Such support promotes systemic reliance on a handful of mega-crops and a small number of grain-exporting regions. Instead, public funds should be directed to supporting alternative sources of grain production around the world, in order to diversify global production and reduce import dependence elsewhere. A priority should be to direct such funding to farming in sub-Saharan Africa, where yield gaps remain while cereal demand is growing rapidly; this could be complemented with funding to support production of alternative crops.

Some challenges of farming organically are shared in this story from Northwest public radio. One question that comes up for me after reading this article is to what extent it really is possible to farm multi-acre monocrops organically:

“You have to be more persistent than the weeds, and we know they are really persistent,” says Ian Burke, a professor of weed science at Washington State University. “It’s all about having the people to be out there and be actively managing.”

It’s a bit hard for me to be convinced he had anything more glamourous than a pre-industrial diet shared, until recently, by most people across the globe; still, over at the Salt is an article about Henry David Thoreau’s diet:

By today’s standards, the polite vegetarian didn’t have the most balanced diet, but he did have remarkable foresight. Long before Pollan penned his popular dietary prescription, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants,” Thoreau was doing just that.

Amazon continues to pursue some kind of food takeover, receiving permission to stock and sell food in India!?

Check out this floating food forest New York, created as a provocation to New York’s policy prohibiting foraging in public parks. Imagine how much could be grown in New York City’s 30,000 acres of parks:

But compared to the concrete pier, Swale’s blueberry bushes, sage, and apple trees provided an island of green. I tried a blackberry from the garden, as well as a bright orange daylily that Gallahan promised me was edible. (There was a little bug inside it, and I ate that, too.) The produce tasted fresh and sweet — if only it didn’t cost so much to grow.

The Guardian had this moving article about the culpability of employers when it comes to consumption of junk food:

In fact, it’s employers who steal billions from workers every year by refusing to pay minimum wage or overtime. Wage theft causes hundreds of thousands of employees to fall below the poverty line and into the food stamp program. Forced to work 14-hour shifts without any breaks to eat, these underpaid workers get by on cheap candy bars and energy drinks that lawmakers then call them irresponsible for purchasing on their benefit cards.

In the UK, they are asking whether to have a traffic light labeling system on supermarket receipts. They admit it won’t end obesity, but I’d be more worried about implementation, and whether the information it provides really leads people in the right direction?:

“Labelling is not the solution to the obesity crisis,” says Anna Taylor, executive director at the Food Foundation. “But what’s important about the traffic lights system is it encourages businesses to reformulate because they don’t want to have a product with lots of reds.” As Morrow puts it, whether or not it makes people eat more healthily, “it’s still important to have the information in terms of consumer rights. The traffic light system is a massive improvement because it’s accessible to everyone, not just those who are nutritionally literate.”

Lastly, this fascinating story of Eva Braun’s food habits brings the contradictions of food in the third reich into sharp relief:

At the very outset, Shapiro highlights the “moral distance” between Braun and her other five subjects. She sets the story of Braun’s appetites – and Hitler’s food oddities – against that of the war and Holocaust, intertwining the two narratives into a penetrating essay that neither romanticizes nor gratuitously indicts Braun.

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CFP: Industrial French Food and Its Critics

A call for papers of potential interest to FoodAnthropology readers:

Industrial French Food and Its Critics

French food is steeped in contradictions. The French are often admired for their food culture and superior eating habits, which are in turn associated with artisanal production and convivial consumption. But the French agroindustrial food complex is a global powerhouse that runs on chemical inputs, intensive production methods, and international dumping practices. In this special issue of Modern and Contemporary France, titled “Industrial French Food and Its Critics,” these contradictions will be put into conversation with each other. By exploring the postwar evolution of French food, in all of its inconsistency, this special issue will call into question our assumptions about French food culture by revealing the multiple food cultures that have developed simultaneously through the postwar period.

Possible topics that contributors might explore:

  • French farming in European, colonial, and global contexts
  • The rise of restauration rapide
  • The industrial model and its economic and ecological discontents
  • Colonial and postcolonial production and consumption; transculturation through foodways
  • Organized resistance to the industrial model: Confédération paysanne, protests
  • Non-industrial forms of food production and consumption: organic agriculture, urban agriculture, jardins ouvriers, Slow Food, AMAP
  • Eco-critical approaches to food and its producers in literature, cinema, and popular culture
  • The contraction of agriculture and the rewilding of the French countryside
  • Haute cuisine, gastronomy, and terroir
  • Challenges to French agricultural power: BRIC nations, GMOs and trade deals, lawsuits at the WTO

This list is not exhaustive and potential contributors are invited to submit proposals on any and all aspects of the industrial food system in postwar France.

Please send abstracts of approximately 250 words, along with short CVs, to the guest editors, Venus Bivar and Tamara Whited, at vbivar@wustl.edu and twhited@iup.edu by August 15th. The list of contributors will be finalized by September 15th. Papers, not to exceed 8,000 words (excluding notes) will be due April 15th, 2018.

APPEL A CONTRIBUTIONS

La pratique alimentaire française est imprégnée de contradictions.  On admire souvent les Français pour leur culture de la table et leurs habitudes alimentaires supérieures, souvent associées à des choix de produits artisanaux et au repas convivial.  Paradoxalement le complexe agroindustriel français est une puissance globale fondée sur l’utilisation systématique d’engrais chimiques, des méthodes de production intensives, et des pratiques de dumping à l’échelle internationale.  Dans ce numéro spécial de Modern and Contemporary France, intitulé « l’Alimentation industrielle française et ses critiques », ces contradictions seront mises en dialogue les unes avec les autres.  En explorant les transformations de l’alimentation française et ses incohérences depuis la deuxième guerre mondiale, ce numéro remettra en question nos a priori relatifs à la culture alimentaire française et révélera des cultures alimentaires multiples qui n’ont cessé de se développer simultanément depuis la période d’après-guerre.

Parmi les sujets possibles:

  • l’agriculture française dans ses contextes européens, coloniaux, et mondiaux
  • le développement de la restauration rapide
  • le système industriel et ses défis économiques et écologiques
  • la production et consommation coloniales; la transculturation des habitudes et pratiques alimentaires
  • les résistances organisées face au système industriel: manifestations, la Confédération paysanne, les néo-ruraux
  • les méthodes anti-industrielles de production et consommation: le bio, l’agriculture urbaine, les jardins ouvriers, le Slow Food, les AMAP
  • les analyses écocritiques des représentations de l’agriculture dans la litérature, le cinéma, et la culture populaire
  • la contraction de l’agriculture et la désertification de la France rurale
  • Haute cuisine, gastronomie, terroir
  • les nouveaux défis lancés au pouvoir agricole de la France: les nations BRICS, les OGM et les accords commerciaux, les causes portées devant l’OMC

Cette liste n’est évidemment pas exhaustive, et les contributeurs sont invités à soumettre toute proposition portant sur les enjeux agro-industriels.

Nous vous prions d’envoyer un abrégé de 250 mots, avec également votre curriculum vitae aux deux éditeurs, Venus Bivar et Tamara Whited, à vbivar@wustl.edu et twhited@iup.edu avant le 15 aout.  La liste des auteurs retenus sera annoncée avant le 15 septembre.  Les articles, limités à 8.000 mots (notes non-incluses), devront être soumis aux éditeurs avant le 15 avril 2018.

Venus Bivar and Tamara Whited

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