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Black Hunger Cover

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Black Hunger

Soul Food And America

Doris Witt

In 1889, the owners of a pancake mix witnessed the vaudeville performance of a white man in blackface and drag playing a character called Aunt Jemima. This character went on to become one of the most pervasive stereotypes of black women in the United States, embodying not only the pancakes she was appropriated to market but also post–Civil War race and gender hierarchies—including the subordination of African American women as servants and white fantasies of the nurturing mammy.

Using the history of Aunt Jemima as a springboard for exploring the relationship between food and African Americans, Black Hunger focuses on debates over soul food since the 1960s to illuminate a complex web of political, economic, religious, sexual, and racial tensions between whites and blacks and within the black community itself. Celebrated by many African Americans as a sacramental emblem of slavery and protest, soul food was simultaneously rejected by others as a manifestation of middle-class black “slumming.”

Highlighting the importance of food for men as well as women, Doris Witt traces the promotion of soul food by New York Times food writer Craig Claiborne and its prohibition by Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad and comedian-turned-diet guru Dick Gregory. A discussion of cookbook author Vertamae Grosvenor, who distanced herself from the myth of plantation mammy by reimagining soul food as "vibration cooking," sets the stage for Witt's concluding argument that the bodies and appetites of African American women should be viewed as central to contemporary conversations about eating disorders and reproductive rights.

Witt draws on vaudeville, literature, film, visual art, and cookbooks to explore how food has been used both to perpetuate and to challenge racial stereotypes. Raising her fist in a Black Power salute, wielding her spatula like a sword, Aunt Jemima steps off the pancake box in a righteous fury.

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Black, White, and Green

Farmers Markets, Race, and the Green Economy

Alison Hope Alkon

Farmers markets are much more than places to buy produce. According to advocates for sustainable food systems, they are also places to “vote with your fork” for environmental protection, vibrant communities, and strong local economies. Farmers markets have become essential to the movement for food-system reform and are a shining example of a growing green economy where consumers can shop their way to social change.

Black, White, and Green brings new energy to this topic by exploring dimensions of race and class as they relate to farmers markets and the green economy. With a focus on two Bay Area markets—one in the primarily white neighborhood of North Berkeley, and the other in largely black West Oakland—Alison Hope Alkon investigates the possibilities for social and environmental change embodied by farmers markets and the green economy.

Drawing on ethnographic and historical sources, Alkon describes the meanings that farmers market managers, vendors, and consumers attribute to the buying and selling of local organic food, and the ways that those meanings are raced and classed. She mobilizes this research to understand how the green economy fosters visions of social change that are compatible with economic growth while marginalizing those that are not.

Black, White, and Green is one of the first books to carefully theorize the green economy, to examine the racial dynamics of food politics, and to approach issues of food access from an environmental-justice perspective. In a practical sense, Alkon offers an empathetic critique of a newly popular strategy for social change, highlighting both its strengths and limitations.

Breadlines Knee Deep in Wheat Cover

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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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Breweries of Wisconsin

Jerry Apps

The story of the Dairy State’s other major industry—beer!  From the immigrants who started brewing here during territorial days to the modern industrial giants, this is the history, the folklore, the architecture, the advertising, and the characters that made Wisconsin the nation’s brewing leader. Updated with the latest trends on the Wisconsin brewing scene.



 "Apps adeptly combines diligent scholarship with fascinating anecdotes, vividly portraying brewmasters, beer barons, saloonkeepers, and corporate raiders. All this plus color reproductions of popular beer labels and a detailed recipe for home brew."—Wisconsin Magazine of History


"In a highly readable style Apps links together ethnic influence, agriculture, geography, natural resources, meteorology, changing technology, and transportation to explore some of the mystique, romance and folklore associated with beer from antiquity to the present day in Wisconsin."—The Brewers Bulletin

Chili Queen Cover

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Chili Queen

Mi historia

Marian L. Martinello

“It happened on the plaza that never slept—my favorite place in the whole of the city,” writes Lupe Pérez, to begin her memoir.

A mix of historical fact, vintage photos and maps, recipes, music, folklore, and south Texan culture, Lupe’s story offers an eyewitness account of life on Military Plaza in San Antonio during the 1880s.

Facing the impending failure of her family’s chili stand, Lupe is certain she can improve profits. But her older sister and hostess, Josefa, resists Lupe’s arguments—until Tom O’Malley, an itinerant vaudeville actor, arrives. By default, Lupe becomes Chili Queen, but each new venture presents new challenges for the struggling chili stand.

Peter Meyer comes to town from the Hill Country to pursue his dream of becoming a shopkeeper. Despite their cultural differences, he and Lupe are drawn to one another by more than romantic feelings. They share a common entrepreneurial dream, and Peter helps Lupe grow in her business savvy.

Just as business improves, word spreads of a new city hall on the plaza and the subsequent eviction of all chili stands. Where will they go? What will they do? The choice is Lupe’s to make. And her response is bold.

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Civic Agriculture

Reconnecting Farm, Food, and Community

Thomas A. Lyson

While the American agricultural and food systems follow a decades-old path of industrialization and globalization, a counter trend has appeared toward localizing some agricultural and food production. Thomas A. Lyson, a scholar-practitioner in the field of community-based food systems, calls this rebirth of locally based agriculture and food production civic agriculture because these activities are tightly linked to a community's social and economic development. Civic agriculture embraces innovative ways to produce, process, and distribute food, and it represents a sustainable alternative to the socially, economically, and environmentally destructive practices associated with conventional large-scale agriculture. Farmers' markets, community gardens, and community-supported agriculture are all forms of civic agriculture.

Lyson describes how, in the course of a hundred years, a small-scale, diversified system of farming became an industrialized system of production and also how this industrialized system has gone global. He argues that farming in the United States was modernized by employing the same techniques and strategies that transformed the manufacturing sector from a system of craft production to one of mass production. Viewing agriculture as just another industrial sector led to transformations in both the production and the processing of food. As small farmers and food processors were forced to expand, merge with larger operations, or go out of business, they became increasingly disconnected from the surrounding communities. Lyson enumerates the shortcomings of the current agriculture and food systems as they relate to social, economic, and environmental sustainability. He then introduces the concept of community problem solving and offers empirical evidence and concrete examples to show that a re-localization of the food production system is underway.

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Collards

A Southern Tradition from Seed to Table

Edward H. Davis and John T. Morgan

Food is essential to southern culture, and collard greens play a central role in the South’s culinary traditions. A feast to the famished, a reward to the strong, and a comfort to the weary, collards have long been held dear in the food-loving southern heart. In Collards: A Southern Tradition from Seed to Table, Edward H. Davis and John T. Morgan provide this emblematic and beloved vegetable the full-length survey its fascinating and complex history merits.
 
The book begins with collards’ obscure origins. Like a good detective story, the search for collards’ home country leads the authors both to Europe and West Africa, where they unravel a tale as surprising and complex as that of southern people themselves. Crossing back over the Atlantic, the authors traverse miles of American back roads, from Arkansas to Florida and from Virginia to Louisiana. They vividly recount visits to homes, gardens, grocers, farms, and restaurants where the many varieties of collards are honored, from the familiar green collards to the yellow cabbage collard and rare purple cultivars.
 
In uncovering the secrets of growing collards, the authors locate prize-winning patches of the plant, interview “seed savers,” and provide useful tips for kitchen gardeners. They also describe how collards made the leap from kitchen garden staple to highly valued commercial crop.
 
Collards captures the tastes, smells, and prize-winning recipes from the South’s premier collards festivals. They find collards at the homes of farmers, jazz musicians, governors, and steel workers. Kin to cabbage and broccoli but superior to both in nutritional value, collard greens transcend human divisions of black and white, rich and poor, sophisticated and rustic, and urban and rural.
 
Food trends may come and go, but collards are a tradition that southerners return to again and again. Richly illustrated in color, Collards demonstrates the abiding centrality of this green leafy vegetable to the foodways of the American South. In it, readers will rediscover an old friend.

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Coney Detroit

Katherine Yung and Joe Grimm

Detroit is the world capital of the coney island hot dog—a natural-casing hot dog topped with an all-meat beanless chili, chopped white onions, and yellow mustard. In Coney Detroit, authors Katherine Yung and Joe Grimm investigate all aspects of the beloved regional delicacy, which was created by Greek immigrants in the early 1900s. Coney Detroit traces the history of the coney island restaurant, which existed in many cities but thrived nowhere as it did in Detroit, and surveys many of the hundreds of independent and chain restaurants in business today. In more than 150 mouth-watering photographs and informative, playful text, readers will learn about the traditions, rivalries, and differences between the restaurants, some even located right next door to each other. Coney Detroit showcases such Metro Detroit favorites as American Coney Island, Lafayette Coney Island, Duly’s Coney Island, Kerby’s Coney Island, National Coney Island, and Leo’s Coney Island. As Yung and Grimm uncover the secret ingredients of an authentic Detroit coney, they introduce readers to the suppliers who produce the hot dogs, chili sauce, and buns, and also reveal the many variations of the coney—including coney tacos, coney pizzas, and coney omelets. While the coney legend is centered in Detroit, Yung and Grimm explore coney traditions in other Michigan cities, including Flint, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Port Huron, Pontiac, and Traverse City, and even venture to some notable coney islands outside of Michigan, from the east coast to the west. Most importantly, the book introduces and celebrates the families and individuals that created and continue to proudly serve Detroit’s favorite food. Not a book to be read on an empty stomach, Coney Detroit deserves a place in every Detroiter or Detroiter-at-heart’s collection.

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Cooking Plain, Illinois Country Style

Helen Walker Linsenmeyer

Cooking Plain, Illinois Country Style by Helen Walker Linsenmeyer presents a collection of family recipes created prior to 1900 and perfected from generation to generation, mirroring the delicious and distinctive kind of cookery produced by the mix of people who settled the Illinois Country during this period. Some recipes reflect a certain New England or Southern influence, while others echo a European heritage. All hark back to a simpler style of living, when cooking was plain yet flavorful.

 

The recipes specify the use of natural ingredients (including butter, lard, and suet) rather than synthetic or ready-mixed foods, which were unavailable in the 1800s. Cooking at the time was pure and unadulterated, and portions were large. Strength-giving food was essential to health and endurance; thus fare was pure, hearty, flavorful, and wholesome.

 

The many treasures of Cooking Plain, Illinois Country Style include

 

• basic recipes for mead, originally served to the militiamen of Jackson County; sumac lemonade, made the Indian way; root beer, as it was originally made;

• soups of many kinds—from wholesome vegetable to savory sorrel leaf, enjoyed by the Kaskaskia French;

• old-fashioned fried beefsteak, classic American pot roast and gravy, as well as secret marinades to tenderize the tougher but more flavorful cuts of meat;

• methods for preparing and cooking rabbit, squirrel, wild turkey, venison, pheasant, rattlesnake, raccoon, buffalo, and fish;

• over one hundred recipes for wheat breads, sweet breads, corn breads, and pancakes;

• an array of delectable desserts and confections, including puddings, ice cream, taffy, and feathery-light cakes and pies;

• sections on the uses of herbs, spices, roots, and weeds; instructions for making sausage, jerky, and smoked fish and for drying one’s own fruits and vegetables; and household hints on everything from making lye soap to cooking for the sick.

 

And there are extra-special nuggets, too, for Mrs. Linsenmeyer laces her cookbook with interesting biographical notes on a number of the settlers and the origin of many of the foods they used. There is also a wealth of historical information on lifestyles and cooking before 1900, plus helpful tips on the use of old-fashioned cooking utensils.

 

A working cookbook complete in its coverage of every area of food preparation, Cooking Plain, Illinois Country Style will be used and treasured as much today as its recipes were by families of an earlier century. The recipes are not gourmet, but they are certain to please today’s cooks, especially those interested in using local ingredients and getting back to a more natural way of cooking and eating.

Cornbread Nation 7 Cover

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Cornbread Nation 7

The Best of Southern Food Writing

Francis Lam

How does Southern food look from the outside? The form is caught in constantly dueling stereotypes: It’s so often imagined as either the touchingly down-home feast or the heartstopping health scourge of a nation. But as any Southern transplant will tell you once they’ve spent time in the region, Southerners share their lives in food, with a complex mix of stories of belonging and not belonging and of traditions that form identities of many kinds.

Cornbread Nation 7, edited by Francis Lam, brings together the best Southern food writing from recent years, including well-known food writers such as Sara Roahen and Brett Anderson, a couple of classic writers such as Langston Hughes, and some newcomers. The collection, divided into five sections (“Come In and Stay Awhile,” “Provisions and Providers,” “Five Ways of Looking at Southern Food,” “The South, Stepping Out,” and “Southerners Going Home”), tells the stories both of Southerners as they move through the world and of those who ended up in the South. It explores from where and from whom food comes, and it looks at what food means to culture and how it relates to home.

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