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California Cuisine and Just Food

Sally K. Fairfax, Louise Nelson Dyble, Greig Tor Guthey, Lauren Gwin, Monica Moore, and Jennifer Sokolove

Publication Year: 2012

An account of the shift in focus to access and fairness among San Francisco Bay Area alternative food activists and advocates.

Published by: The MIT Press

Series: Food, Health, and the Environment

Title Page, Copyright

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Series Foreword

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pp. ix

I am pleased to present the ninth book in the Food, Health, and the Environment series. This series explores the global and local dimensions of food systems and examines issues of access, justice, and environmental and community well-being. It includes books that focus on the way food...

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pp. xi-xiv

California Cuisine and Just Food takes a deep and comprehensive look at past and new efforts to bring tastier, healthier, locally grown, and ethically produced food to San Francisco Bay Area eaters, poor and rich. The story is inspiring. The authors of this collectively written account...

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pp. xv-xvii

Even six authors are apparently not enough — we have required a lot of help. In our more than ten years of working on this book, we have had time to impose on a lot of folks’ generosity. Hundreds of people have shared their experiences, insights, opinions, and perspectives in...

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1. Celebrating a Community?

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pp. 1-10

The sun shines through second-story windows at the Ferry Building, illuminating San Francisco’s historic transit hub, now transformed into the kind of foodie paradise many people associate with the San Francisco Bay Area (figure 1.1). It is October 2007, and a twenty-fifth anniversary...

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Part I. Making A Place for Just Food

Our analysis of the possibilities for a just and sustainable food system focuses on the San Francisco Bay Area over a relatively long period of time. The Bay Area is geographically small, but it has an outsized reputation on issues of food. While it is frequently chided for its precious food obsessions, those preoccupations...

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2. Framing Alternative Food

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pp. 13-33

Both the evolution of the alternative food district and our analysis of it occur in close relationship to a broader discussion that has been taking place, more or less simultaneously, across the nation. Because both the exchange of ideas and the process of continuing dialogue are important to our district, this chapter...

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3. California Agriculture and Conventional Food

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pp. 35-67

Why alternative food? Alternative to what? This chapter describes the conventional side of the food system. The basic story is broadly familiar, and we do not reiterate the abundant literature. Instead we focus on background relevant to our arguments about alternative food. Because we define...

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4. The Discontents

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pp. 69-87

For more than half a century before what we describe as an alternative food district began to take shape, people were challenging — in very different ways and venues — the conventional food system as it emerged. Here we address four strands of criticism in roughly chronological order. The first was raised by...

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Part II. Waves of Innovation in the Bay Area Alternative Food Community

If we are correct in asserting that an alternative food district is operating in the Bay Area, we should be able to locate activists, entrepreneurs, consumers, and producers who are developing new relationships, institutions, and innovations that have resulted in higher expectations for food quality. Part II explores...

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5. A Civic Culture of Parks, Planning, and Land Protection

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pp. 91-105

Although many innovative industrial regions do not require a land base, a food district probably does. The Bay Area’s experience in land protection, dating back more than a hundred years, anchors the district both symbolically and more concretely in possibilities for creative food production and processing....

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6. Radical Regional Cuisine

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pp. 107-133

Solving the distribution problems for fresh, local, sustainably grown produce created the face-to-face interactions that comprise the foundation of the Bay Area’s alternative food district. Innovations at the junction of two fairly distinct Bay Area food cultures gave the early district both momentum...

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7. Maturing the District

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pp. 135-174

In the Bay Area, the conversation about what it meant to produce and eat good food did not remain narrow for long. It rapidly became contentious and complex. New sectors — dairy and beef — joined the alternative enterprise, and new buyers, particularly schools and hospitals, emerged. As these businesses and...

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8. Food Democracy and Innovation

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pp. 175-222

Given the district’s history of radical food politics and food-based political organizing, justice issues were surprisingly unformed and inconsistently pursued during the 1990s. That began to change early in the new century. Expressed geographically, one could say that the center of district innovation has moved...

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9. Conclusion: The District and the Future of Alternative Food

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pp. 223-233

An alternative food district continues to evolve in the Bay Area — expanding, thickening, and incorporating new institutions and new understandings of food and food quality. Although it is anchored, both symbolically and concretely, in a regional base of protected land, the district is not just a particular geography...


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pp. 235-280


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pp. 281-338


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pp. 339-354

E-ISBN-13: 9780262305853
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262517867

Page Count: 376
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Food, Health, and the Environment

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Food habits -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Food preferences -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Gastronomy -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Food industry and trade -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Sustainable agriculture -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area.
  • San Francisco Bay Area (Calif.) -- Social life and customs.
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