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Hardcover | $11.75 Short | £9.95 | 376 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 14 b&w photos, 4 b&w illus., 4 maps | October 2012 | ISBN: 9780262018111
Paperback | $34.00 Short | £27.95 | 376 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 14 b&w photos, 4 b&w illus., 4 maps | September 2012 | ISBN: 9780262517867
eBook | $24.00 Short | October 2012 | ISBN: 9780262306775
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California Cuisine and Just Food

Foreword by Marion Nestle


Can a celebrity chef find common ground with an urban community organizer? Can a maker of organic cheese and a farm worker share an agenda for improving America’s food? In the San Francisco Bay area, unexpected alliances signal the widening concerns of diverse alternative food proponents. What began as niche preoccupations with parks, the environment, food aesthetics, and taste has become a broader and more integrated effort to achieve food democracy: agricultural sustainability, access for all to good food, fairness for workers and producers, and public health. This book maps that evolution in northern California.

The authors show that progress toward food democracy in the Bay area has been significant: innovators have built on familiar yet quite radical understandings of regional cuisine to generate new, broadly shared expectations about food quality, and activists have targeted the problems that the conventional food system creates. But, they caution despite the Bay Area’s favorable climate, progressive politics, and food culture many challenges remain.

About the Authors

Sally K. Fairfax is Henry J. Vaux Distinguished Professor Emerita in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California, Berkeley.

Louise Nelson Dyble is Assistant Professor of History in the Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Technological University.

Greig Tor Guthey is Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Planning at California State University, San Marcos.

Lauren Gwin is Research Associate in the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at Oregon State University and cofounder and coordinator of the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network.

Monica Moore cofounded the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International and its U.S.-based regional center PAN North America.

Jennifer Sokolove is Program Director at the Compton Foundation in San Franscisco.

Table of Contents

  • California Cuisine and Just Food
  • Food, Health, and the Environment
  • Series Editor: Robert Gottlieb, Henry R. Luce Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy, Occidental College
  • Keith Douglass Warner,
  • Agroecology in Action: Extending Alternative Agriculture through Social Networks
  • Christopher M. Bacon, V. Ernesto Méndez, Stephen R. Gliessman, David Goodman, and Jonathan A. Fox, eds.,
  • Confronting the Coffee Crisis: Fair Trade, Sustainable Livelihoods and Ecosystems in Mexico and Central America
  • Thomas A. Lyson, G. W. Stevenson, and Rick Welsh, eds.,
  • Food and the Mid-Level Farm: Renewing an Agriculture of the Middle
  • Jennifer Clapp and Doris Fuchs, eds.,
  • Corporate Power in Global Agrifood Governance
  • Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi,
  • Food Justice
  • Jill Lindsey Harrison,
  • Pesticide Drift and the Pursuit of Environmental Justice
  • Alison Alkon and Julian Agyeman, eds.,
  • Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class, and Sustainability
  • Abby Kinchy,
  • Seeds, Science, and Struggle: The Global Politics of Transgenic Crops
  • Sally K. Fairfax, Louise Nelson Dyble, Greig Tor Guthey, Lauren Gwin, Monica Moore, and Jennifer Sokolove,
  • California Cuisine and Just Food
  • California Cuisine and Just Food
  • Sally K. Fairfax, Louise Nelson Dyble, Greig Tor Guthey, Lauren Gwin, Monica Moore, and Jennifer Sokolove
  • with the Assistance of Matthew Gerhart and Jennifer Kao
  • The MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • London, England
  • ©
  • 2012
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
  • MIT Press books may be purchased at special quantity discounts for business or sales promotional use. For information, please email or write to Special Sales Department, The MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, MA 02142.
  • This book was set in Sabon by Toppan Best-set Premedia Limited, Hong Kong. Printed on recycled paper and bound in the United States of America.
  • Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
  • Fairfax, Sally K.
  • California cuisine and just food / Sally K. Fairfax ... [].
  •  p. cm.—(Food, health, and the environment)
  • Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • ISBN 978-0-262-01811-1 (hardcover : alk. paper)—ISBN 978-0-262-51786-7 (pbk. : alk. paper)  1. Food habits—California—San Francisco Bay Area. 2. Food preferences—California—San Francisco Bay Area. 3. Gastronomy—California—San Francisco Bay Area. 4. Food industry and trade—California—San Francisco Bay Area. 5. Sustainable agriculture—California—San Francisco Bay Area. 6. San Francisco Bay Area (Calif.)—Social life and customs. I. Title.
  • GT2853.U5F34 2012
  • 394.1′2—dc23
  • 2012008691
  • 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  • We dedicate this book to two who are building the next generation in the district, Nikki Henderson and Anya Fernald, and to some of the impressive shoulders on which they stand: Boyd Stewart, Warren Weber, Ellen Straus, Phyllis Faber, Alice Waters, Sibella Kraus, Sue Conley, Peg Smith, Ellie Rilla, and David Evans.
  • Contents
  • Series Foreword ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • 1 Celebrating a Community? 1
  • I Making a Place for Just Food 11
  • 2 Framing Alternative Food 13
  • 3 California Agriculture and Conventional Food 35
  • 4 The Discontents 69
  • II Waves of Innovation in the Bay Area Alternative Food Community 89
  • 5 A Civic Culture of Parks, Planning, and Land Protection 91
  • 6 Radical Regional Cuisine 107
  • 7 Maturing the District 135
  • 8 Food Democracy and Innovation 175
  • 9 Conclusion: The District and the Future of Alternative Food 223
  • Notes 235
  • Bibliography 281
  • Index 339


“Finally! A book on the alternative food movement that tells the complex story of innovation by grounding it in a particular place and describing its historical evolution. California Cuisine and Just Food traces how a broader food quality agenda emerged over time—from land protection, to sustainable growing practices, to food quality and taste, to public health concerns, to equity and justice. This accessible book emphasizes concrete achievements without concealing the challenges that lie ahead in the struggle for food democracy.”
Neva Hassanein, Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Montana
“The politics of food in the San Francisco Bay Area range from high-end restaurants to the efforts of the Black Panthers and the Berkeley Coop to bring fresh food to poorer residents. In this important book, Sally Fairfax and her coauthors ask, among other questions, how San Francisco’s posh Ferry Plaza Farmers Market links to efforts to improve conditions for farm workers and school lunches. They conclude that the evolving understanding of food quality, which has shifted from sustainable farming practices to include flavor and aesthetics as well as personal and public health, can effectuate needed reforms in the current food system.”
Philip Martin, Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics, University of California, Davis
“A wide-ranging exploration and careful celebration of Bay Area Alternative Food Networks, what they have accomplished, and what is left to be done.”
E. Melanie DuPuis, coauthor, Alternative Food Networks: Practice, Knowledge and Politics
“A wonderfully rich narrative that skillfully weaves together history, theory, participant observation and rigorous analysis. The book provides significant socioeconomic, ecological, and cultural insights into food sovereignty, food security, food justice, science-society relations, state–civil society relations, and organizational co-evolution among diverse movements seeking high-quality food, environmental health, and social change.”
Keith Pezzoli, Urban Studies and Planning Program, University of California, San Diego