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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.
American Indian Stories of Food, Identity, and Resilience
"Eating is not only a political act, it is also a cultural act that reaffirms one’s identity and worldview," Enrique Salmón writes in Eating the Landscape. Traversing a range of cultures, including the Tohono O’odham of the Sonoran Desert and the Rarámuri of the Sierra Tarahumara, the book is an illuminating journey through the southwest United States and northern Mexico. Salmón weaves his historical and cultural knowledge as a renowned indigenous ethnobotanist with stories American Indian farmers have shared with him to illustrate how traditional indigenous foodways—from the cultivation of crops to the preparation of meals—are rooted in a time-honored understanding of environmental stewardship.
In this fascinating personal narrative, Salmón focuses on an array of indigenous farmers who uphold traditional agricultural practices in the face of modern changes to food systems such as extensive industrialization and the genetic modification of food crops. Despite the vast cultural and geographic diversity of the region he explores, Salmón reveals common themes: the importance of participation in a reciprocal relationship with the land, the connection between each group’s cultural identity and their ecosystems, and the indispensible correlation of land consciousness and food consciousness. Salmón shows that these collective philosophies provide the foundation for indigenous resilience as the farmers contend with global climate change and other disruptions to long-established foodways. This resilience, along with the rich stores of traditional ecological knowledge maintained by indigenous agriculturalists, Salmón explains, may be the key to sustaining food sources for humans in years to come.
As many of us begin to question the origins and collateral costs of the food we consume, Salmón’s call for a return to more traditional food practices in this wide-ranging and insightful book is especially timely. Eating the Landscape is an essential resource for ethnobotanists, food sovereignty proponents, and advocates of the local food and slow food movements.
Food, Friendship, and Inequality
An insightful map of the landscape of social meals, Eating Together: Food, Friendship, and Inequality argues that the ways in which Americans eat together play a central role in social life in the United States. Delving into a wide range of research, Alice P. Julier analyzes etiquette and entertaining books from the past century and conducts interviews and observations of dozens of hosts and guests at dinner parties, potlucks, and buffets. She finds that when people invite friends, neighbors, or family members to share meals within their households, social inequalities involving race, economics, and gender reveal themselves in interesting ways: relationships are defined, boundaries of intimacy or distance are set, and people find themselves either excluded or included.
The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region
In The Edible South, Marcie Cohen Ferris presents food as a new way to chronicle the American South's larger history. Ferris tells a richly illustrated story of southern food and the struggles of whites, blacks, Native Americans, and other people of the region to control the nourishment of their bodies and minds, livelihoods, lands, and citizenship. The experience of food serves as an evocative lens onto colonial settlements and antebellum plantations, New South cities and Civil Rights-era lunch counters, chronic hunger and agricultural reform, counterculture communes and iconic restaurants as Ferris reveals how food--as cuisine and as commodity--has expressed and shaped southern identity to the present day.
The region in which European settlers were greeted with unimaginable natural abundance was simultaneously the place where enslaved Africans vigilantly preserved cultural memory in cuisine and Native Americans held tight to kinship and food traditions despite mass expulsions. Southern food, Ferris argues, is intimately connected to the politics of power. The contradiction between the realities of fulsomeness and deprivation, privilege and poverty, in southern history resonates in the region's food traditions, both beloved and maligned.
Food, Drink, and Connoisseur Culture
Wisdom of the Land, Knowledge of the Water
For generations the Río Embudo watershed in northern New Mexico has been the home of Juan Estevan Arellano and his ancestors. From this unique perspective Arellano explores the ways people use water in dry places around the world. Touching on the Middle East, Europe, Mexico, and South America before circling back to New Mexico, Arellano makes a case for preserving the acequia irrigation system and calls for a future that respects the ecological limitations of the land.
Current discussions of the ethics around alternative food movements--concepts such as "local," "organic," and "fair trade"--tend to focus on their growth and significance in advanced capitalist societies. In this groundbreaking contribution to critical food studies, editors Yuson Jung, Jakob A. Klein, and Melissa L. Caldwell explore what constitutes "ethical food" and "ethical eating" in socialist and formerly socialist societies. With essays by anthropologists, sociologists, and geographers, this politically nuanced volume offers insight into the origins of alternative food movements and their place in today's global economy. Collectively, the essays cover discourses on food and morality; the material and social practices surrounding production, trade, and consumption; and the political and economic power of social movements in Bulgaria, China, Cuba, Lithuania, Russia, and Vietnam. Scholars and students will gain important historical and anthropological perspective on how the dynamics of state-market-citizen relations continue to shape the ethical and moral frameworks guiding food practices around the world.
Cuisine and the Making of National Identity in Israel
When people discuss food in Israel, their debates ask politically charged questions: Who has the right to falafel? Whose hummus is better? But Yael Raviv’s Falafel Nation moves beyond the simply territorial to divulge the role food plays in the Jewish nation. She ponders the power struggles, moral dilemmas, and religious and ideological affiliations of the different ethnic groups that make up the “Jewish State” and how they relate to the gastronomy of the region. How do we interpret the recent upsurge in the Israeli culinary scene—the transition from ideological asceticism to the current deluge of fine restaurants, gourmet stores, and related publications and media?
Focusing on the period between the 1905 immigration wave and the Six-Day War in 1967, Raviv explores foodways from the field, factory, market, and kitchen to the table. She incorporates the role of women, ethnic groups, and different generations into the story of Zionism and offers new assertions from a secular-foodie perspective on the relationship between Jewish religion and Jewish nationalism. A study of the changes in food practices and in attitudes toward food and cooking, Falafel Nation explains how the change in the relationship between Israelis and their food mirrors the search for a definition of modern Jewish nationalism.
The farm family is a unique institution, perhaps the last remnant, in an increasingly complex world, of a simpler social order in which economic and domestic activities were inextricably bound together. In the past few years, however, American agriculture has suffered huge losses, and family farmers have seen their way of life threatened by economic forces beyond their control. At a time when agriculture is at a crossroads, this study provides a needed historical perspective on the problems family farmers have faced since the turn of the century.
For analysis Mark Friedberger has chosen two areas where agriculture retains major importance in the local economy -- Iowa and California's Central Valley. Within these two geographic areas he examines farm families with regard to their farming methods, land tenure, inheritance practices, use of credit, and community relations. These aspects are then compared to assess change in rural society and to discern trends in the future of family farming.
Despite the shocks endured by family farmers at various times in this century, Friedberger finds that some families have remained remarkably resilient. These families evinced a strong commitment to their way of life. They sought to own their land; they maintained inheritance from one generation to the next; they were generally conservative in using credit; and they preferred to diversify their enterprises. These practices served them well in good times and in bad.
Innovative in its use of a combination of documentary sources, quantitative methods, and direct observation, this study makes an important contribution to the history of American agriculture and of American society.