News of the New Year at SAFN

David Beriss
President, Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition

Happy New Year!

We have news of changes here at FoodAnthropology and, more broadly, at the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition. First, Rachel Black, having completed her extended term as our glorious leader, has now joined the ranks of our many illustrious past presidents. We are all grateful for her amazingly productive work. And I am sure she will continue to play a significant role in shaping this organization and the anthropology of food and nutrition in general.

At the last meeting of the American Anthropological Association I officially became the new president of SAFN. Hopefully I can live up to the standards set by my predecessors. I have only just begun to learn the secret codes, handshakes, and mysterious workings of the AAA itself. I keep hoping that an image of Sidney Mintz will appear in the sugar on a beignet and point the way forward, but that has not yet happened. I suspect that successful leadership of SAFN will mostly involve finding ways to help other people pursue whatever brilliant ideas they have for the organization. And, as it happens, there are already people stepping up with great ideas to pursue.

In coming weeks, I will post updates about some of those ideas and activities here. One of the first and most important ones has to do with the blog itself. Amy Trubek and Abigail Adams are taking over as co-editors of FoodAnthropology. They already have a number of really great ideas for new themes for posting here. You will continue to read many of the occasional postings (like our reading digest, “What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now”) and series that have proven popular over time. I am sure that Amy and Abigail will bring in new writers and themes in coming weeks that will make the blog more dynamic and exciting. If you have ideas, reach out to them at atrubek@uvm.edu and Adams@ccsu.edu.

Unlike some of the bigger sections of the AAA, SAFN does not have its own conference. What we do have, however, is the ability to participate in one of the most exciting interdisciplinary annual food studies conferences anywhere. The joint annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Food and Society and the Agriculture Food and Human Values Society occurs every June and showcases a lot of the best and most interesting research in food across many disciplines (we posted the CFP on the blog a few weeks ago, here). It is a terrific opportunity to network with people and there is usually a significant SAFN presence. This year’s conference will be in Madison, Wisconsin, from June 13-16. We would like to organize several SAFN panels there. The overall conference theme is “The Agroecological Prospect: The Politics of Integrating Values, Food, and Farming,” and, of course, panels and papers on other topics are welcome. Let’s use the blog and the SAFN listserv to organize panels starting now. Got ideas? Let us know or post a call on the listserv to recruit others. The deadline for submissions is February 15, so we must get organized quickly! (You must be a SAFN member to use the listserv. Not a member? We would love to have you among us! See the top of the blog for a link to how to become one.)

Last year we created an elected position for a student representative on the SAFN Executive Board. We are now officially seeking nominations for that job! Our current appointed student representative, by the way, is Kelly Alexander, whose work you can find all over this blog. If you are interested in running, please contact David Sutton, who is our nominations chair.

I will post further updates here soon, as will the many other contributors to this blog. You should reach out to Amy and Abigail with ideas for ways you can participate in the blog as well. This has proven to be a wonderful resource for getting information out to the world on the work of anthropologists in food. When you post here, a lot of people will read what you write, including many people outside the world of universities. Use that power to get your work read! This is an exciting time to be working on food and nutrition. Let’s get the stories of our research and of the people we work with out there!

 

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Job Posting for Food Systems/Food Studies Position

The Culinary Institute of America is looking for a new colleague to teach food studies and food systems. They would be joining a growing program in Applied Food Studies (https://www.ciachef.edu/cia-new-york-applied-food-studies-bachelors-degree-program/), which focuses on a blend of experiential and theoretical approaches to the field. A PhD is preferred but not required.

Food Studies Job

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Food Swamps, Homeopathy, Healthy Soil, and Airplane Food: A New U.S. Food Policy Roundup

Unknown-2By Kelly Alexander

Happy New Year and without further ado, here’s the state of U.S. food policy on this second day of 2018: Special United States Edition. In the news now: Small-scale family farms are in limbo as the Trump administration backs away from NAFTA negotiations; a groundbreaking new proposal in the California General Assembly would legalize the selling of home-cooked foods and meals as a way of empowering immigrant and minority community cooks; menu labeling is coming to all American-based airlines in May 2018, but until then you can learn more about who serves what in the friendly skies; Michael Jacobson, newly retired executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, opines extensively about the governmental interventions he believes are necessary for a healthier American diet; you know about “food deserts” but do you know about food swamps—they’re just as much a part of the obesity epidemic, according to a new study; in the coming year the FDA vows to “crack down” on homeopathic remedies in response to increasing consumer safety concerns; finally, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says healthy soil is important to healthy food and wants to revamp the wetland determination process (maybe by paying farmers).

 

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Sustainable Development Postdoc

The following announcement was received from Amy Trubek, who notes that there are several UVM Food Systems faculty affiliated with the Gund Institute. That, along with the fact that ending hunger is a sustainable development goal, ought to make this a great opportunity for food and nutrition oriented anthropologists.

POSTDOCTORAL ASSOCIATE, GUND INSTITUTE, THE UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT

The Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont (UVM) is recruiting Postdoctoral Associates for Fall 2018 to conduct research on major global environmental challenges.  We seek exceptional early-career scholars committed to connecting interdisciplinary research to real-world issues in environment and sustainability.

About the position:

Postdocs are expected to pursue rigorous, original research that spans traditional disciplines and contributes to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  Postdocs will be supervised by at least one Fellow of the Gund Institute at UVM as their advisor or co-advisor.  Co-advisors from different departments are encouraged. We expect postdocs to develop additional collaborations with other UVM scholars, and to participate actively in seminars, trainings, gatherings, and other events hosted by the institute.

These are two-year positions, given satisfactory progress in the first year. We offer an annual salary of $49,000 plus benefits, and a discretionary fund of $5,000/year to support research costs and travel. Postdocs will also have opportunities for professional development (e.g., media and communications training). Expected start date is September 1, 2018.

About the Gund Institute:

The Gund Institute is a newly expanded campus-wide center for interdisciplinary research, where more than 100 faculty, global affiliates, post-docs, and graduate students collaborate widely to understand the interactions among natural, social, and economic systems. Consistent with the mission of the Institute, we pursue projects that both advance research frontiers and address concrete environmental issues.

Eligibility and application:

Candidates must have completed their PhD by the expected start date, and no earlier than 5 years before it. Competitive candidates will have a strong record of success in their PhD program, a demonstrated commitment to interdisciplinary work, a keen interest in connecting research to policy and decisions, and high potential to become global leaders in sustainability.

If interested, first contact potential advisors from among the Gund Fellows to discuss your ideas. The best proposals are typically co-developed with potential advisors. Submit an online application by March 15, 2018, including a cover letter, CV, and research proposal.

Applications also require a letter of support from a proposed advisor. These should be emailed directly toJeannine.Valcour@uvm.edu by the applicant’s proposed advisor by March 15. Applications will be evaluated on scientific merit, potential for real-world impact, excellence of the applicant, fit with Gund Institute research themes, and feasibility.

About the University of Vermont:

The University of Vermont (UVM) is the only comprehensive university in the state and Vermont’s land-grant institution. UVM enrolls 13,000 students, including 1,500 graduate students, and attracts more than $138 million in research awards annually. The campus overlooks Lake Champlain, between the Adirondack and Green mountains, and is surrounded by the small, historical city of Burlington, perennially voted one of America’s best places to live. UVM is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. Applications from women and people from diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds are encouraged.

For more info: https://www.uvm.edu/gund/postdoctoral-fellows

 

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What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, December 22, 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.

We have not written here (yet) about the movement against sexual misconduct currently sweeping through the restaurant world, along with many other industries. It has been striking, however, to observe how different writers have grappled with the complexities of power (and its abuse) as deployed in the food world. In this piece in the New Yorker, for instance, Helen Rosner takes on the discourses of sensuality, appetite, and gender that have framed the careers of chefs like Mario Batali. Julia Moskin and Kim Severson’s article in the New York Times provide insight into the working of raw power in the restaurant industry, this time in the case of Ken Friedman. This is, of course, not just a New York story, as this earlier piece by Brett Anderson at the Times-Picayune regarding the behavior of New Orleans chef John Besh demonstrates.

Women are not just victims in the restaurant world – they are also accomplished workers, leaders, and owners. This article from Southern Living provides brief vignettes about thirty women in the world of Southern food and their accomplishments. Helen Freund provides a New Orleans-focused analysis of women working in food here. As these women point out, there are a lot of gender related issues that need to be addressed in the industry.

Changing topics dramatically: Pen Vogler provides this article about the idea of “clean eating” in Dickens’ writing and time. Although a seasonal reference to Christmas dinner is included, this is not an article with which to work up an appetite. Consider this, from The Pickwick Paper: “’Weal pie,’ said Mr. Weller, soliloquising, as he arranged the eatables on the grass. ‘Wery good thing is weal pie, when you know the lady as made it, and is quite sure it ain’t kittens; and arter all though, where’s the odds, when they’re so like weal that the wery piemen themselves don’t know the difference?’” Look it up to consider the seasonality of kittens in pie. Ah, England.

More Dickens related material, but also more appetizing: Mayukh Sen makes the case for why “The Muppet Christmas Carol” is one of the best food movies ever made. There is certainly a lot of food in the movie. We will need to see it again to determine if this argument is persuasive.

At this time of the year, many people are compiling best-of lists for all kinds of things. From the Longreads web site, here is a short list of their favorite food writing from 2017. It includes a piece on the local food movement in post-coal Appalachia, an article about chef Angela Dimayuga, who brings together queer theory and restaurant management, a surprising take on Olive Garden, Christianity, Gaugin, and more from Helen Rosner, and more. The painting she refers to, Gaugin’s Christ in the Garden of Olives, seems to have very few breadsticks.

Everything has a history, including the chilled premade sandwich in the United Kingdom. It seems that before the 1980s, these ubiquitous convenience foods, available all over London (and beyond), were not something people there ate. Sam Knight, writing in The Guardian, presents this is amazing story, involving marketing, clever invention, changing eating habits, convenience, and, of course, the famous Earl himself. Sandwich factories, sandwich empires…it is all here.

Food writer and historian Adrian Miller wrote this article about gatekeepers in the world of food writing for NPR. He explains some of the very curious limitations encountered by writers of color in the world of food and proposes a few ways to address them. Miller’s view is complex and provides a useful addition to the ongoing debates about who speaks for different kinds of foods and the communities they may represent.

Fabio Parasecoli has written an additional critique of the world of foodies and food writing in this short piece on HuffPost. Maybe we can call this transnational cosmopolitanism in the service of a localist ideology? Or making the world safe for Brooklyn? There is a lot to think about in this article and it would make for a wonderful discussion starter in your next food studies class.

Restaurants, as we have often noted here, can be a kind of total social phenomenon, where many of the social concerns of society are brought together in one space. This includes the creation of new families in which people, workers, and customers alike, can create deep social bonds. This lovely article from Kara Baskin in the Boston Globe, illustrates the kinds of relations some older customers develop with restaurant workers and owners in Boston.

We have been meaning to call attention to SAFN VP Amy Trubek’s recent book “Making Modern Meals: How Americans Cook Today,” which was published by the University of California Press a few months ago. While you are at it, you might read this blog entry Amy wrote about home cooks for National Cooking day.

A few years old, but new to us: the story of Oedipus, told with vegetables. This is a short film by Jason Wishnow. Spoiler alert, it does not have a happy ending. Tragic. Be careful with potato peelers.

Happy holidays!

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Kiddush: Local Flavor

Leslie Carlin

The ‘Kiddush’ lunch is a tradition at many synagogues, including the one I belong to in downtown Toronto. It’s a shared meal to which all are invited following the Saturday morning services; usually about 120 people attend ours. A professional chef does the shopping and cooking, and the meals are tasty, attractive, and elaborate: a soup, salads, a hot stew or casserole, something sweet and delectable for dessert. Coffee, tea. Whiskey or ‘schnapps’ on a side table, if there’s a bar or bat mitzvah. Once a year, however, the Food Committee, comprised of volunteers from the shul membership, takes over to organize a ‘self-catered kiddush’, providing the chef with a vacation and augmenting community spirit. Somehow, due no doubt to advancing age and weakness of will, I have become a member of the food committee.

Each year the community kiddush meal adopts a theme. This time we aimed to reflect the indigenous heritage of the First Nations groups of Ontario. At the same time, we must follow the Jewish laws of ‘kashrut’ and of Sabbath: the synagogue and its kitchen are kosher and meatless, and all dishes must be fully prepared before dusk of the evening before, Friday. There can be no switching on or off of electric circuits, or lighting or dousing flames. As a further constraint, the committee has undertaken to promote use of ingredients that are organic and, where possible, local.

No problem! Duck soup! (Oops, no, not vegetarian.) Maybe ‘piece of cake.’ Or ‘easy as pie.’ Not!

toronto restaurant photoWe invited Shaun Adler to advise us. Shaun is the chef and proprietor at nearby Pow Wow Café , whose signature dish is the Ojibway taco, to attend our planning meeting. On a Tuesday evening, eight women and one man (the chair) surround Shaun at a long, wobbly table of scuffed gray plastic in the synagogue’s basement. “We’re so grateful that you have agreed to share your time and knowledge,” says the chair.

“Last year, we had a Moroccan theme,” a woman informs Shaun, checking her notes. “Two salads.”

“No meat. And the ingredients have to be kosher,” her neighbor adds.

“It all has to be cooked here,” someone else explains, waving her hand toward the small kitchen area at the far end of the room. “And be ready before sunset on Friday evening.”

“We’re doing all the preparation ourselves,” says another person.

Shaun holds up a hand. “Hey, everyone. My last name is ‘Adler’. My mom’s First Nations and my dad’s Jewish. I know about this stuff.” Shaun’s indigenous roots are Lac de Milles Lac First Nations, a branch of the Ojibway, based in northwestern Ontario, out beyond Thunder Bay. Shaun pulled out a spiral-bound pad of lined paper and a pen, gazed into space for a moment, and started to scribble. The vocal chorus flowed around him. “Okay, here it is,” he announced suddenly, tapping the pen on the paper. We all stopped speaking and listened.

Here it is, our kosher, vegetarian, Ojibway-inspired, locally-sourced, pre-cooked Kiddush menu, for a day of rest in the midst of a Canadian winter:

— Corn chowder in a mirepoix base, including celery, potatoes, garlic, cream, with a dish of cooked pickerel on the side

— ‘Three Sisters’ stew: lye corn, butternut squash, and red kidney beans, with parsnips and tomatoes, with a vegetarian broth.

— Wild rice pilaf—the wild rice sourced from Curve Lake Reserve—using Shaun’s cooking tip: boil with four times the volume of water normally used, which he says is a unit of rice to 1.5 of water, and then straining out the remainder to use in preparing the Three Sisters stew; or, he says, you can drink it—with dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, a little vinegar, maple syrup, and seasoned with salt and pepper.

— A green salad spiked with deep fried Jerusalem artichokes, julienned, skin on, and julienned carrots

— And finally, for dessert, bannock, with a compote of stewed apples and pears. Plus whipped cream.

Everyone is invited!

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CFP: Consuming In, and Consumed By, a Trump Economy

A CFP from the American Sociological Association on consumption:

CALL FOR PAPERS

“Consuming In, and Consumed By, a Trump Economy”

*one-day pre-American Sociological Association mini-conference*

Friday, August 10, 2018, 8:30 am-4:00 pm

Rutgers University, Camden, NJ

PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR BRIEF ABSTRACTS OF PRESENTATIONS!

The Consumers and Consumption section of the American Sociological Association (ASA) is excited to host a one-day conference on Friday, August 10, one day prior to the 2018 ASA meetings. The event will be held at Rutgers University-Camden, located just over the Ben Franklin Bridge from Philadelphia. Participation is open to all, whether or not you are a member of the section or of ASA. Contributions from graduate students and junior scholars are especially welcome.

In addition to an open call for research in the sociology of consumption, we invite submissions related to the theme of “Consuming In, and Consumed By, a Trump Economy.” We view this theme as a broad call to explore how consumption is being (re)structured, enacted, and contested in the contemporary political moment, both within and beyond US borders. Themed presentations needn’t limit their focus to the Trump presidency. We welcome a range of perspectives (including historical and theoretical) investigating dynamics of consumption within this broader political, neo-liberal, plutocratic moment.

Submissions may explore a wide range of topics, including but not limited to the following:

  • consumption and climate change
  • social media and “fake news”
  • struggles for food justice, housing justice, or environmental justice
  • the dynamics of excess and scarcity
  • consumption, race/racism, and white supremacy
  • precarious labor and the “sharing” or “gig” economy
  • boycotts and ethical consumption
  • consumption and disaster capitalism
  • sexual harassment in consumer industries
  • credit, debt and inequality
  • consumption and nationalism
  • consumer culture, big data, and surveillance
  • celebrity culture
  • philanthropy and corporate social responsibility

We will continue our tradition of devoting one mini-conference session to a dissertation workshop with student presentations of work followed by comments from faculty members of the Section. PhD students may note whether they want their abstract to be considered for the dissertation session.

Further details regarding conference website and registration are forthcoming.

DEADLINE TO SUBMIT ABSTRACTS: March 16, 2018

Please include:

  • A separate cover sheet with title, name and affiliation of author(s), and email of contact person (first author)
  • An abstract of 250-300 words detailing your topic, research questions, data, and a striking conclusion
  • Note if you wish to be considered for the dissertation workshop (PhD students)
  • Do not put identifying information in the body of the abstract, but only on the cover sheet

Email your proposal to: miniconsumer2018@gmail.com

Please put “Consumption Mini-Conference” and your name in the subject line

Notice of acceptance will be sent out in early May

 

Thanks,

Kate Cairns and Dan Cook, co-organizers

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