California Studies in Food and Culture

Published by: University of California Press

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California Studies in Food and Culture

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Balancing on a Planet

The Future of Food and Agriculture

David A. Cleveland

This book is an interdisciplinary primer on critical thinking and effective action for the future of our global agrifood system, based on an understanding of the system’s historical roots. A key component of the book is a thorough analysis of the assumptions underlying different perspectives on problems related to food and agriculture around the world and a discussion of alternative solutions. David Cleveland argues, for example, that combining selected aspects of small-scale traditional agriculture with modern scientific agriculture can help balance our biological need for food with its environmental impact—and continue to fulfill cultural, social, and psychological needs related to food.

Balancing on a Planet is based on Cleveland’s research and engaging teaching about food and agriculture for more than three decades. It is a tool to help students, faculty, researchers, and interested readers understand debates about the current crisis and alternatives for the future.

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Becoming Salmon

Aquaculture and the Domestication of a Fish

Marianne Elisabeth Lien

Becoming Salmon is the first ethnographic account of salmon aquaculture, the most recent turn in the human history of animal domestication. In this careful and nuanced study, Marianne Elisabeth Lien explores how the growth of marine domestication has blurred traditional distinctions between fish and animals, recasting farmed fish as sentient beings, capable of feeling pain and subject to animal-welfare legislation.

Drawing on fieldwork on and off salmon farms, Lien traces farmed Atlantic salmon through contemporary industrial husbandry, exposing how salmon are bred to be hungry, globally mobile, and "alien" in their watersheds of origin. Attentive to both the economic context of industrial food production and the embodied materiality of human-animal relations, this book highlights the fragile and contingent relational practices that constitute salmon aquaculture and the multiple ways of "becoming salmon" that emerge as a result.

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Beyond Hummus and Falafel

Social and Political Aspects of Palestinian Food in Israel

Liora Gvion

Beyond Hummus and Falafel is the story of how food has come to play a central role in how Palestinian citizens of Israel negotiate life and a shared cultural identity within a tense political context. At the household level, Palestinian women govern food culture in the home, replicating tradition and acting as agents of change and modernization, carefully adopting and adapting mainstream Jewish culinary practices and technologies in the kitchen. Food is at the center of how Arab culture minorities define and shape the boundaries and substance of their identity within Israel.

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Breadlines Knee-Deep in Wheat

Food Assistance in the Great Depression

Janet Poppendieck

At no time during the Great Depression was the contradiction between agriculture surplus and widespread hunger more wrenchingly graphic than in the government's attempt to raise pork prices through the mass slaughter of miliions of "unripe" little pigs. This contradiction was widely perceived as a "paradox." In fact, as Janet Poppendieck makes clear in this newly expanded and updated volume, it was a normal, predictable working of an economic system rendered extreme by the Depression. The notion of paradox, however, captured the imagination of the public and policy makers, and it was to this definition of the problem that surplus commodities distribution programs in the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations were addressed.

This book explains in readable narrative how the New Deal food assistance effort, originally conceived as a relief measure for poor people, became a program designed to raise the incomes of commercial farmers. In a broader sense, the book explains how the New Deal years were formative for food assistance in subsequent administrations; it also examines the performance--or lack of performance--of subsequent in-kind relief programs.

Beginning with a brief survey of the history of the American farmer before the depression and the impact of the Depression on farmers, the author describes the development of Hoover assistance programs and the events at the end of that administration that shaped the "historical moment" seized by the early New Deal. Poppendieck goes on to analyze the food assistance policies and programs of the Roosevelt years, the particular series of events that culminated in the decision to purchase surplus agriculture products and distribute them to the poor, the institutionalization of this approach, the resutls achieved, and the interest groups formed. The book also looks at the takeover of food assistance by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its gradual adaptation for use as a tool in the maintenance of farm income. Utliizing a wide variety of official and unofficial sources, the author reveals with unusual clarity the evolution from a policy directly responsive to the poor to a policy serving mainly democratic needs.

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Curried Cultures

Globalization, Food, and South Asia

Krishnendu Ray

Although South Asian cookery and gastronomy has transformed contemporary urban foodscape all over the world, social scientists have paid scant attention to this phenomenon. Curried Cultures–a wide-ranging collection of essays–explores the relationship between globalization and South Asia through food, covering the cuisine of the colonial period to the contemporary era, investigating its material and symbolic meanings. Curried Cultures challenges disciplinary boundaries in considering South Asian gastronomy by assuming a proximity to dishes and diets that is often missing when food is a lens to investigate other topics. The book’s established scholarly contributors examine food to comment on a range of cultural activities as they argue that the practice of cooking and eating matter as an important way of knowing the world and acting on it.

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Divided Spirits

Tequila, Mezcal, and the Politics of Production

Sarah Bowen

Divided Spirits tells the stories of tequila and mezcal, two of Mexico’s most iconic products. In doing so, the book illustrates how neoliberalism influences the production, branding, and regulation of local foods and drinks. It also challenges the strategy of relying on “alternative” markets to protect food cultures and rural livelihoods.

In recent years, as consumers increasingly demand to connect with the people and places that produce their food, the concept of terroir—the taste of place—has become more and more prominent. Tequila and mezcal are both protected by denominations of origin (DOs), legal designations that aim to guarantee a product’s authenticity based on its link to terroir. Advocates argue that the DOs expand market opportunities, protect cultural heritage, and ensure the reputation of Mexico’s national spirits. Yet this book shows how the institutions that are supposed to guard “the legacy of all Mexicans” often fail those who are most in need of protection: the small producers, agave farmers, and other workers who have been making tequila and mezcal for generations. The consequences—for the quality and taste of tequila and mezcal, and for communities throughout Mexico—are stark.

Divided Spirits suggests that we must move beyond market-based models if we want to safeguard local products and the people who make them. Instead, we need systems of production, consumption, and oversight that are more democratic, more inclusive, and more participatory. Lasting change is unlikely without the involvement of the state and a sustained commitment to addressing inequality and supporting rural development.

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Eating Right in the Renaissance

Ken Albala

Eating right has been an obsession for longer than we think. Renaissance Europe had its own flourishing tradition of dietary advice. Then, as now, an industry of experts churned out diet books for an eager and concerned public. Providing a cornucopia of information on food and an intriguing account of the differences between the nutritional logic of the past and our own time, this inviting book examines the wide-ranging dietary literature of the Renaissance. Ken Albala ultimately reveals the working of the Renaissance mind from a unique perspective: we come to understand a people through their ideas on food.

Eating Right in the Renaissance takes us through an array of historical sources in a narrative that is witty and spiced with fascinating details. Why did early Renaissance writers recommend the herbs parsley, arugula, anise, and mint to fortify sexual prowess? Why was there such a strong outcry against melons and cucumbers, even though people continued to eat them in large quantities? Why was wine considered a necessary nutrient? As he explores these and other questions, Albala explains the history behind Renaissance dietary theories; the connections among food, exercise, and sex; the changing relationship between medicine and cuisine; and much more.

Whereas modern nutritionists may promise a slimmer waistline, more stamina, or freedom from disease, Renaissance food writers had entirely different ideas about the value of eating right. As he uncovers these ideas from the past, Ken Albala puts our own dietary obsessions in an entirely new light in this elegantly written and often surprising new chapter on the history of food.

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A Geography of Digestion

Biotechnology and the Kellogg Cereal Enterprise

Nicholas Bauch

A Geography of Digestion is a highly original exploration of the legacy of the Kellogg Company, one of America’s most enduring and storied food enterprises. In the late-nineteenth century, John H. Kellogg relentlessly experimented with state-of-the-art advances in nutritional and medical science at his Battle Creek Sanitarium. At the same time, he was directly involved in overhauling the form and function of the broader landscapes in which his health practice was situated.  Innovations in food-manufacturing machinery, urban sewer infrastructure, and agricultural technology came together to forge an extensible geography of his patients bodies, changing the way Americans consumed and digested food. 

In his novel approach to the study of the Kellogg enterprise, Bauch asks his readers to think geographically about the process of digesting food. Beginning with the stomach, the chapters move outward from the Sanitarium through the landscapes and technologies that materialized Kellogg’s particular version of digestion. Far from a set of organs confined to the epidermal bounds of the body, the digestive system existed in other places. From food processing machines, to urban sewerage, to agricultural fields, A Geography of Digestion paints a grounded portrait for one of the most basic human processes of survival – the incorporation of food into our bodies – leading us to question where exactly our bodies are located.

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A History of Cookbooks

From Kitchen to Page over Seven Centuries

Henry Notaker

A History of Cookbooks provides a sweeping literary and historical overview of the cookbook genre, exploring its development as a part of food culture beginning in the Late Middle Ages. Studying cookbooks from various Western cultures and languages, Henry Notaker traces the transformation of recipes from brief notes with ingredients into detailed recipes with a specific structure, grammar, and vocabulary. In addition, he reveals that cookbooks go far beyond offering recipes: they tell us a great deal about nutrition, morals, manners, history, and menus while often providing entertaining reflections and commentaries. This innovative book demonstrates that cookbooks represent an interesting and important branch of nonfiction literature.

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Hoptopia

A World of Agriculture and Beer in Oregon's Willamette Valley

Peter A. Kopp

The contents of your pint glass have a much richer history than you could have imagined. Through the story of the hop, Hoptopia connects twenty-first century beer drinkers to lands and histories that have been forgotten in an era of industrial food production. The craft beer revolution of the late twentieth century is a remarkable global history that converged in the agricultural landscapes of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The common hop, a plant native to Eurasia, arrived to the Pacific Northwest only in the nineteenth century, but has thrived within the region’s environmental conditions so much that by the first half of the twentieth century, the Willamette Valley claimed the title “Hop Capital of the World.” Hoptopia integrates an interdisciplinary history of environment, culture, economy, labor, and science through the story of the most indispensible ingredient in beer.

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