Feed your mind while you feast
Thanksgiving is entirely centered on food and eating—but why not dig deeper this year? To celebrate Thanksgiving, we compiled a list of books on food justice to add another layer to our holiday meals. Read on to learn about how food travels from its source to your table; why the future of eating might not be carnivorous; why there are rising movements to change the US food system; and more.
Food Routes: Growing Bananas in Iceland and Other Tales from the Logistics of Eating by Robyn Metcalfe
Even if we think we know a lot about good and healthy food—even if we buy organic, believe in slow food, and read Eater—we probably don’t know much about how food gets to the table. What happens between the farm and the kitchen? Why are all avocados from Mexico? Why does a restaurant in Maine order lamb from New Zealand? In Food Routes, Robyn Metcalfe explores an often-overlooked aspect of the global food system: how food moves from producer to consumer. She finds that the food supply chain is adapting to our increasingly complex demands for both personalization and convenience—but, she says, it won’t be an easy ride.
The New American Farmer: Immigration, Race, and the Struggle for Sustainability by Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern
Although the majority of farms in the United States have US-born owners who identify as white, a growing number of new farmers are immigrants, many of them from Mexico, who originally came to the United States looking for work in agriculture. In The New American Farmer, Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern explores the experiences of Latino/a immigrant farmers as they transition from farmworkers to farm owners, offering a new perspective on racial inequity and sustainable farming. She finds that many of these new farmers rely on farming practices from their home countries—including growing multiple crops simultaneously, using integrated pest management, maintaining small-scale production, and employing family labor—most of which are considered alternative farming techniques in the United States.
Food by Fabio Parasecoli
Everybody eats. We may even consider ourselves experts on the topic, or at least Instagram experts. But are we aware that the shrimp in our freezer may be farmed and frozen in Vietnam, the grapes in our fruit bowl shipped from Chile, and the coffee in our coffee maker grown in Nicaragua, roasted in Germany, and distributed in Canada? Whether we know it or not, every time we shop for food, cook, and eat, we connect ourselves to complex supply networks, institutions, and organizations that enable our food choices. Even locavores may not know the whole story of the produce they buy at the farmers market. In this volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series, food writer and scholar Fabio Parasecoli offers a consumer’s guide to the food system, from local to global.
Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class, and Sustainability edited by Alison Hope Alkon and Julian Agyeman
Popularized by such best-selling authors as Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver, and Eric Schlosser, a growing food movement urges us to support sustainable agriculture by eating fresh food produced on local family farms. But many low-income neighborhoods and communities of color have been systematically deprived of access to healthy and sustainable food. These communities have been actively prevented from producing their own food and often live in “food deserts” where fast food is more common than fresh food. Cultivating Food Justice describes their efforts to envision and create environmentally sustainable and socially just alternatives to the food system.
Humans are eating more meat than ever. Despite ubiquitous Sweetgreen franchises and the example set by celebrity vegans, demand for meat is projected to grow at twice the rate of demand for plant-based foods over the next thirty years. Between 1960 and 2010, per capita meat consumption in the developing world more than doubled; in China, meat consumption grew ninefold. It has even been claimed that meat made us human—that our disproportionately large human brains evolved because our early human ancestors ate meat. In The Meat Question, Josh Berson argues that not only did meat not make us human, but the contemporary increase in demand for meat is driven as much by economic insecurity as by affluence. Considering the full sweep of meat’s history, Berson concludes provocatively that the future is not necessarily carnivorous.
Feeding the Other: Whiteness, Privilege, and Neoliberal Stigma in Food Pantries by Rebecca T. de Souza
The United States has one of the highest rates of hunger and food insecurity in the industrialized world, with poor households, single parents, and communities of color disproportionately affected. Food pantries—run by charitable and faith-based organizations—rather than legal entitlements have become a cornerstone of the government’s efforts to end hunger. In Feeding the Other, Rebecca de Souza argues that food pantries stigmatize their clients through a discourse that emphasizes hard work, self help, and economic productivity rather than food justice and equity. De Souza describes this “framing, blaming, and shaming” as “neoliberal stigma” that recasts the structural issue of hunger as a problem for the individual hungry person.
Read an interview with the author: The Stigma of Poverty: In Conversation With Rebecca de Souza
The Immigrant-Food Nexus: Borders, Labor, and Identity in North America edited by Julian Agyeman and Sydney Giacalone
This volume considers the intersection of food and immigration at both the macroscale of national policy and the microscale of immigrant foodways—the intimate, daily performances of identity, culture, and community through food. Taken together, the chapters—which range from an account of the militarization of the agricultural borderlands of Yuma, Arizona, to a case study of Food Policy Council in Vancouver, Canada—demonstrate not only that we cannot talk about immigration without talking about food but also that we cannot talk about food without talking about immigration.
Food Justice by Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi
In today’s food system, farm workers face difficult and hazardous conditions, low-income neighborhoods lack supermarkets but abound in fast-food restaurants and liquor stores, food products emphasize convenience rather than wholesomeness, and the international reach of American fast-food franchises has been a major contributor to an epidemic of “globesity.” To combat these inequities and excesses, a movement for food justice has emerged in recent years seeking to transform the food system from seed to table. In Food Justice, Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi tell the story of this emerging movement.