Tag Archives: food studies

What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, August 23, 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.

Ramen is probably one of the most popular and familiar foods on the planet, as readers of Frederick Errington, Tatsuro Fujikura, and Deborah Gewertz’s 2013 book “The Noodle Narratives” know. The Guardian wrote about work by sociologist Michael Gibson-Light, who discusses how ramen have become prized commodities and a kind of currency in the U.S. prison system, where privatization and reduced government funding have resulted in less food available for inmates.

How do people make living conditions in refugee camps tolerable? This stunning article looks at conditions inside Yida, a refugee camp in South Sudan and tells the stories of women who have started restaurants there. Along with stories of survival and ingenuity, there are great details about food cultures, bureaucracy, and more, along with brilliant photography.

In the last few decades, Community Supported Agriculture has been seen by many as a model of how farmers and consumers can escape industrial agriculture. It helps small family farms thrive and provides consumers with better quality foods. At least, that is the idea. But is the model sustainable? This article from Small Farm Central examines recent data to argue that there are significant threats to the long-term success of the CSA model. The author also provides potential solutions.

When we subscribe to a CSA or shop at the farmers market, we often think that we are engaging in more ethical consumption. After all, what could be better than purchasing food from local producers? In this article, political scientist Margaret Gray calls attention to the working conditions farmworkers encounter even in small farms. Unless we pay attention and lobby for better laws and conditions, local may not always be very different from industrial farming, at least for workers.

Many people are aware that the monoculture of Cavendish bananas presents all sorts of problems, not the least of which is that the bananas themselves may disappear due to disease. Critics argue that there are better banana varieties out there, but finding ways for farmers to produce them and get them to market is difficult. Writer Aaron Thier makes an argument for a better banana and explains how to get it to market here.

Following the banana theme, Fabio Parasecoli provides a nicely educational review of the movie Sausage Party, which he suggests draws on tired old ethnic stereotypes and frat boy politics in an effort to explore the lives of grocery store products. He may not like the movie, but the review will provide you with a useful history on ethnicity, animated food, and bananas.

TGI Friday’s is changing its décor, from the antique-heavy jumble that you may have seen, to something more sleek and early 21st century. But where did the original style come from? This article from Collector’s Weekly explores the history of the antique décor phenomenon in American restaurants. Birth control, fern bars, Americana, and more…this is dense and surprising history. Where all the antiques come from…and where “decluttering” may lead.

If you read this blog, then you probably also watch a lot of very serious and high minded documentaries about food. They are all excellent, no doubt, and we watch them too (and sometimes recommend them in this column). So here is a parody of all of those films. There is a little gesture at the end that is killer.

Cookbooks are a great source for scholars who want to look at the way people think about food at any given moment or in particular places. If you are in New York City, you have until September 9 to see the exhibition “Nourishing Tradition: Jewish Cookbooks and the Stories they Tell” at the Center for Jewish History. Meanwhile, here is a brief but excellent article about the exhibition and the questions it raises.

Over at always-interesting-but-sometimes-cryptic Savage Minds, William Cotter and Mary-Caitlyn Valentinsson have written about the increasingly complex world of specialty coffee in the United States. They focus particular attention on issues of class and race. Worth a read, although your next cup of hipster-approved java may be a little more bitter after you do.

Looking for films to use in your classes this fall? Here is a list of nineteen films recommended by the folks at FoodTank (who love making lists even more than we do), some very serious, some quite fun.

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Food, Space, Place–Edited Volume

An intriguing call for papers of potential interest to FoodAnthropology readers:

Initial Call for Abstracts

Food, Space, Place–Edited Volume

Editor: Carlnita P. Greene, Ph.D.

Ranging from public markets and urban agriculture to food carts and mobile phones, today, the convergence between food, space, and place almost is taken for granted since it has become an ordinary facet of daily life. It is because these aspects are most central to our lives that it is crucial for us to understand the multifaceted ways in which food, space, and place shape our experiences and the meanings that we create about them. Yet, rather than examining these phenomena as separate or discrete entities, this edited volume explores the nexus of food/drink, space, and place, locally and globally. Both multi-and interdisciplinary in scope, its aim is to offer a broad array of theories, methods, and perspectives that can be used as lenses for analyzing the interconnections between food/drink, space, and place.

Therefore, I seek contributions from scholars in diverse fields, including the humanities, sciences, and/or social sciences, who are working in this area of research. Potential questions/topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • How do food/drink, space, and place contribute to a multiplicity of human activities and experiences?
  • How do we engage with food/drink, space, and place both as individuals or within groups?
  • How do food/drink, space, and place shape performances, the senses, and/or embodied experiences?
  • How do we understand our relationships with food or drink as rooted within particular spaces/places?
  • How might our relationships to food/drink, space, and place shape our views of nature, the environment, and our natural resources?
  • How do we come to know and to understand ourselves through food/drink, space, and place?
  • How do food/drink, space, and place shape our relationships with others?

If you are interested in contributing a chapter, please e-mail me with a title, a short abstract of 300-500 words, your academic affiliation, and your contact information as an attachment (MS Word format). These materials should be sent to Carlnita P. Greene, University of Oregon,cgreene@uoregon.edu by September 18, 2016This is an initial call for abstracts.

All potential contributors will be notified of acceptance by October 9, 2016 and full manuscripts will be due on January 31, 2017. Additionally, although the project is in early stages, a publisher (whom I have worked with in the past) has expressed potential interest in publishing the book.

Please circulate this CFP to any colleagues who might be interested.

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Thomas Marchione Award

Thomas Marchione Award:

Recognizing Outstanding Student Research

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 $600.  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.  Students already engaged in relevant research, action or advocacy may apply in acknowledgement of their accomplishments.  Students must be members of the AAA to apply.  Proposals must be focused on developing world countries.

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

DEADLINE: SEPTEMBER 10, 2016

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

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What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, August 8 Edition

 

The inter-webs are exploding with fascinating food and nutrition readings; we can hardly keep up here at FoodAnthropology.

Before we get to the readings, however, we would like to welcome a new contributor to our team. Starting next week, Jo Hunter-Adams, from the University of Cape Town, will join the FoodAnthropology team as a regular contributor to this rubric. With a background in public health research, we are looking forward to even more interesting reading recommendations. She can be contacted at hunterjo@gmail.com. In fact, if you have interesting links, feel free to share them with her or with me at dberiss@gmail.com.

What does it mean if restaurants in some cities are so expensive that even the professional restaurant critics cry uncle? In this piece from the New York Times, Daniel Duane explores the implications of the stunning levels of inequality in San Francisco, where the super-rich eat ever more exotic and expensive dishes, while the people who cook them cannot find affordable housing anywhere in the region. Los Angeles provides an alternative model in this story.

But Los Angeles, despite being a great food city, has its own problems. Listen to this excellent example of investigative journalism from Karen Foshay at KCRW about wage theft in the Los Angeles restaurant industry. This is part of a series that explores a variety of issues in the industry, including injuries and healthcare, rape and assault, and trafficking.

In our last digest, we posted about the food politics of the U.S. presidential candidates. This week we have an article about the way food is used to shape the image of a candidate. In this case, it is Donald Trump, who not only eats fast food, but wants to make sure you know about it. Read this and you will. Meanwhile, if you are curious about who Mr. Trump might get his ideas about food policy from, read this article from Mother Jones.

One of the odder controversies to surface after the Democratic National Convention followed Michelle Obama’s speech, in which she noted that the White House was built with slave labor. Here at FoodAnthropology we thought this was a well-known fact, but it turns out that we were wrong, because Obama’s comment surprised many. What was less surprising was that someone—in this instance, Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly—felt it necessary to claim that the enslaved were “well-fed” and thus were not so bad off after all. This weird effort to soften slavery has long been a strange part of American historical discourse and this time food scholar Michael Twitty responded with both facts and a challenge to O’Reilly to eat like an enslaved person for a week.

Related to politics and not necessarily about food, The Nation has announced its annual Student Writing Contest. The objective is to write an 800 word essay on the question: “It’s clear that the political system in the United States isn’t working for many young people. What do you think is the central issue for your generation in Election 2016?” Six college students and six high school students will be selected as finalists and from those two winners will be chosen. There are substantial awards available. And it would be really great if the winning essays raised food policy issues.

As long as we are being timely, it is worth noting the quadrennial fascination with what Olympic athletes eat. NPR recently republished a piece from 2012 that looks at the caloric needs of different kinds of Olympians. Bon Appetit interviews a dietitian who helps approve the menus for the Olympic Village.

And while we are focusing on Brazil, Bridget Huber wrote this interesting article on that country’s food politics in The Nation, published, it is worth noting, in collaboration with the always-interesting Food & Environment Reporting Network.

The idea of “cultural appropriation” and the debate about who has the right to speak (or write) about different societies and cultures is one of the more interesting and intense areas of food studies. Journalist Laura Shunk explores the issues in a somewhat anguished fashion in this article, building her perspective from her experiences writing about food in the U.S. and then spending a year doing research in China. Whatever you end up thinking about the article, she also includes several very useful links to some key voices in this debate in the U.S.

Related to the cultural appropriation theme: One of the prime complaints about food media (mentioned in Shunk’s article above) is the way some journalists tend to exoticize the foods of others. It is interesting to think about what happens when we exoticize our own foods for others. That might be what is going on in this article from the new-ish website extracrisply.com, which explores the joys of livermush in North Carolina. Or maybe this one, which is about a Cincinnati delicacy called Goetta. Or perhaps this brief note on boudin in south Louisiana. All of this is part of the web site’s regional meat week, which you may find fun or you may want to critique (or both – you are allowed to do both).

For something that is both exotic and vaguely disturbing, listen to the latest episode of Gravy, the podcast from the Southern Foodways Alliance. This one explores why German food is popular in Huntsville, Alabama. Let’s just say that Nazis are involved and the podcast raises uncomfortable questions about the history of the U.S. missile program. Or at least they should be uncomfortable questions, as the podcast demonstrates.

In case you missed it, eminent anthropologist and SAFN member Richard Wilk posted some thoughts on food waste, wasted food, and what people consider edible across cultures on the Huffington Post in July.

Over at the always-interesting Savage Minds site, they have recently published two items on the anthropology of food. This is part of a series called Anthropologies #22 (you will have to ask them what the number refers to). The first one, by James Babbit, looks at meat, agriculture, industry, and alternatives. The second, by Zofia Boni, draws on the author’s research in schools in Warsaw to develop ideas about what it means to study food in general.

And to finish this week, the folks at The Salt (NPR’s food blog) have created this nicely educational quiz on what restaurants were like in the U.S. 100 years ago. To create it, they drew on the book Repast: Dining Out at the Dawn of the New American Century, 1900-1910, by Michael Lesy and Lisa Stoffer (2013, Norton).

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Community Food Literacy

The Community Literacy Journal has just announced the publication of a special issue on “Community Food Literacies.” This journal is available electronically, through Project Muse, but if you have access to that database (and your subscription includes the journal), you can read the issue.

Here is the table of contents, with links to the articles (or the abstracts, if you do not have access to the journal via Project Muse):

•    Michael Pennell, Introduction to the Special Issue on Community Food Literacies
•    De aquí y de allá: Changing Perceptions of Literacy through Food Pedagogy, Asset-Based Narratives, and Hybrid Spaces” by Lucía Durá, Consuelo Salas, William Medina-Jerez, and Virginia Hill
•    “Mindful Persistence: Literacies for Taking up and Sustaining Fermented-Food Projects” by Christina Santana, Stacey Kuznetsov, Sheri Schmeckpeper, Linda Curry, Elenore Long, Lauren J. Davis, Heidi Koerner, and Kimberly Butterfield McQuarrie
•    Book & New Media Reviews, edited by Jessica Shumake

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Save the Date!

Received from our friends at the Association for the Study of Food and Society, a heads up for next year’s big Food Studies conference:

Save the date for our 2017 Meeting and Conference!

2017 CONFERENCE: Migrating Food Cultures. 

Engaging Pacific Perspectives on Food and Agriculture

Occidental College in Pasadena, California, is pleased to host the Joint 2017 Annual Meetings and Conference of the Association for the Study of Food and Society and the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society. The meeting will be held June 14-18, 2017; information will be posted as it becomes available on the conference website at http://oxyfoodconference.org/. The call for abstracts will be posted in September.

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What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, July 30 Edition

 

We have had a brief summer hiatus here in the FoodAnthropology reading and Tour de France watching department, during which we have, in fact, been doing some reading (among other things). Here, then, is a little list of items you may want to read or share with your colleagues, students, friends, or random strangers on social media. And if you find any nifty items out there about food, nutrition, anthropology, etc., that you would like to share with our readers, please send a link and very brief description to dberiss@gmail.com.

First, an article on the state of food writing in the United States today. Amanda Hesser, from Food52, and Adam Sachs, from Saveur, discuss diversity, investigative journalism, click bait, and food media in general.

This article from the Atlantic looks at the reasons why salads are associated with women, at least in the US, and brings a nice food studies perspective to the broader question of cross cultural perceptions of health and taste in food.

The U.S. elections are impending and one might think that food, nutrition, and agriculture would be hot issues. One would, of course, be wrong. At Food First, Christopher Cook rails against this situation, arguing for the centrality of these issues. Borrowing from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the New Food Economy web site provides a nice little comparison of where the two major party platforms stand on key food and agriculture issues. Then Dan Mitchell, reacting to Cook’s piece, analyzes why neither party is making a big deal out of food or agriculture issues at this time. This goes far beyond the simple fact that not a lot of voters work in agriculture and, given the historic importance of food in shaping the political history of nations, raises great questions about American politics, economy, and culture. And Tom Philpott, in Mother Jones, speculates about which food and agriculture issues a future Clinton administration might focus on. This could be useful stuff if you want to spark a debate among students this fall.

Meanwhile, it turns out that kids still need to eat school lunches and the government still needs to regulate those lunches…and doing so is seen as an opportunity to make political points. At Forbes, Nancy Fink Huehnergarth outlines the politics of school lunch rule making.

Climate change is making it more difficult for small communities in places like Alaska to acquire the subsistence foods that they depend upon. Although this particular story focuses on very small groups of people in a remote region of the planet, it seems like climate change is going to have an impact on food supplies for many more people in the near future.

Native Americans are still fighting for justice within the food system, as this piece from Food First indicates. As part of their “Dismantling Racism in the Food System” series, Hartman Deetz writes about the connections between fishing rights, recognition, and economic development for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in Massachusetts.

800,000 years of oyster middens. Biologists and archaeologists from the Smithsonian have put together a huge data set that allows them to track the relationship between oysters and humans in Chesapeake Bay over a really long period of time. They have figured out the impact of human harvesting of oysters on oyster size, for instance. Drawing on some ideas about Native American oyster practices, they have some oyster management suggestions for today as well.

From Anthropology News, Andrew Newman interviews Alex Hill, epidemiologist and applied anthropologist with the Detroit Health Department. They discuss food access issues in the city, including the idea of a food desert, urban farming, and much more, including a nifty mapping project web site.

From Gastropod, a podcast focused on food, science, and history, the story of how so many things in American supermarkets, including a lot of processed foods, came to be labeled as kosher. When rabbis needed to become scientists…and how the kosher labeling system is itself a result of the industrialization of food in the United States.

The “Mediterranean diet” seems to have been a “thing” in medical circles for nearly as long as the idea of a “Mediterranean cultural region” was a thing in anthropology. What do people in the region think of the diet? Xaq Frohlich writes about the discovery and marketing of the Mediterranean diet in Spain in this article.

It seems fitting to finish this round up with something sweet. As your correspondent had a very brief ice cream truck driving career, this story really struck a chord (pun more or less intended). Ice cream trucks have iconic music. Often, the tune is “Turkey in the Straw.” There is some rather interesting history behind that little tune and Richard Parks, at Lucky Peach, has written about it.

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