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Grounded Practical Theology
Christians in the United States are on a quest for good food. And yet, at every turn, they confront brokenness in the food system. Access to healthy food is not secure. Farmers and laborers struggle to find meaningful agricultural work that pays a livable wage. Animals and the land are abused. At the public policy level, legislation has increasingly favored mass-produced products in order to provide the largest amount of food to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible prices— regardless of the consequences. Unable to trace the sources of their food, and perhaps even the ingredients, consumers are vulnerable to a deep and abiding alienation. Still, many religions, including the Christian tradition, orient themselves around the table, a site for connection and nourishment. Good Food is a practical theology grounded in a rich ethnographic study of the food practices of diverse faith communities and populations. In the midst of the wounded food system, they are hopeful but not naïve, and in their imaginative work, the seeds for a thriving food system are taking root. Grounded in unflinching analysis and encompassing both theological and moral implications, Ayres examines actual religious practices of food justice, discovering in the process a grounded theology for food. Ayres challenges people of faith to participate in communal initiatives that will make a real difference—to support local farmers, grow their own food, and advocate for fair food policies. Good Food equips readers with the theological and practical tools needed to safeguard that which sustains us: food.
Perspectives on Eating from the Past and a Preliminary Agenda for the Future
Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food is a practical food history lesson, an editorial on our use of packaged convenience foods, and a call to arms—of the kitchen variety. Mixing food writing and history, adding a dash of cookbook, author and scholar Ken Albala shares the story of what happened when he started taking food history seriously and embarked on a mission to grow, cook, and share food in the ways that people did in the past.
Albala considers what the traditions we have needlessly lost have to offer us today: a serious appreciation for the generative power of the earth, the great pleasures of cooking food, and the joy of sharing food with family, friends, and even strangers. In Albala’s compelling book, obscure seventeenth-century Italian farmer-nobles, Roman statesmen, and quirky cheesemakers from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries all offer lessons about our relationship with the food we eat.
A rare form of historical activism, Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food is written for anyone who likes to eat, loves to cook, and knows how to throw a great dinner party.
Case Studies on Local Food Supply Chains
In an increasingly commercialized world, the demand for better quality, healthier food has given rise to one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. food system: locally grown food. Many believe that “relocalization” of the food system will provide a range of public benefits, including lower carbon emissions, increased local economic activity, and closer connections between consumers, farmers, and communities. The structure of local food supply chains, however, may not always be capable of generating these perceived benefits.
Growing Local reports the findings from a coordinated series of case studies designed to develop a deeper, more nuanced understanding of how local food products reach consumers and how local food supply chains compare with mainstream supermarket supply chains. To better understand how local food reaches the point of sale, Growing Local uses case study methods to rigorously compare local and mainstream supply chains for five products in five metropolitan areas along multiple social, economic, and environmental dimensions, highlighting areas of growth and potential barriers. Growing Local provides a foundation for a better understanding of the characteristics of local food production and emphasizes the realities of operating local food supply chains.
Four Seasons, Six Generations
From Prohibition to the Present
A History of Wine in America is the definitive account of winemaking in the United States, first as it was carried out under Prohibition, and then as it developed and spread to all fifty states after the repeal of Prohibition. Engagingly written, exhaustively researched, and rich in detail, this book describes how Prohibition devastated the wine industry, the conditions of renewal after Repeal, the various New Deal measures that affected wine, and the early markets and methods. Thomas Pinney goes on to examine the effects of World War II and how the troubled postwar years led to the great wine boom of the late 1960s, the spread of winegrowing to almost every state, and its continued expansion to the present day.
The history of wine in America is, in many ways, the history of America and of American enterprise in microcosm. Pinney's sweeping narrative comprises a lively cast of characters that includes politicians, bootleggers, entrepreneurs, growers, scientists, and visionaries. Pinney relates the development of winemaking in states such as New York and Ohio; its extension to Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, and other states; and its notable successes in California, Washington, and Oregon. He is the first to tell the complete and connected story of the rebirth of the wine industry in California, now one of the most successful winemaking regions in the world.
From the Beginnings to Prohibition
The Vikings called North America "Vinland," the land of wine. Giovanni de Verrazzano, the Italian explorer who first described the grapes of the New World, was sure that "they would yield excellent wines." And when the English settlers found grapes growing so thickly that they covered the ground down to the very seashore, they concluded that "in all the world the like abundance is not to be found." Thus, from the very beginning the promise of America was, in part, the alluring promise of wine. How that promise was repeatedly baffled, how its realization was gradually begun, and how at last it has been triumphantly fulfilled is the story told in this book.
It is a story that touches on nearly every section of the United States and includes the whole range of American society from the founders to the latest immigrants. Germans in Pennsylvania, Swiss in Georgia, Minorcans in Florida, Italians in Arkansas, French in Kansas, Chinese in California—all contributed to the domestication of Bacchus in the New World. So too did innumerable individuals, institutions, and organizations. Prominent politicians, obscure farmers, eager amateurs, sober scientists: these and all the other kinds and conditions of American men and women figure in the story. The history of wine in America is, in many ways, the history of American origins and of American enterprise in microcosm.
While much of that history has been lost to sight, especially after Prohibition, the recovery of the record has been the goal of many investigators over the years, and the results are here brought together for the first time.
In print in its entirety for the first time, A History of Wine in America is the most comprehensive account of winemaking in the United States, from the Norse discovery of native grapes in 1001 A.D., through Prohibition, and up to the present expansion of winemaking in every state.
Food Supply in the Old South, 1840-1860
When historical geographer Sam B. Hilliard’s book Hog Meat and Hoecake was published in 1972, it was ahead of its time. It was one of the first scholarly examinations of the important role food played in a region’s history, culture, and politics, and it has since become a landmark of foodways scholarship.
In the book Hilliard examines the food supply, dietary habits, and agricultural choices of the antebellum American South, including Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. He explores the major southern food sources at the time, the regional production of commodity crops, and the role of those products in the subsistence economy.
Far from being primarily a plantation system concentrating on cash crops such as cotton and tobacco, Hilliard demonstrates that the South produced huge amounts of foodstuffs for regional consumption. In fact, the South produced so abundantly that, except for wines and cordials, southern tables were not only stocked with the essentials but amply laden with veritable delicacies as well. (Though contrary to popular opinion, neither grits nor hominy ever came close to being universally used in the South prior to the Civil War.)
Hilliard’s focus on food habits, culture, and consumption was revolutionary—as was his discovery that malnutrition was not a major cause of the South’s defeat in the Civil War. His book established the methods and vocabulary for studying a region’s cuisine in the context of its culture that foodways scholars still employ today. This reissue is an excellent and timely reminder of that.
What It Means for Our Global Food System
Taste, Health, and the Industrialization of the American Diet
Food consumption is a significant and complex social activity—and what a society chooses to feed its children reveals much about its tastes and ideas regarding health. In this groundbreaking historical work, Amy Bentley explores how the invention of commercial baby food shaped American notions of infancy and influenced the evolution of parental and pediatric care.
Until the late nineteenth century, infants were almost exclusively fed breast milk. But over the course of a few short decades, Americans began feeding their babies formula and solid foods, frequently as early as a few weeks after birth.
By the 1950s, commercial baby food had become emblematic of all things modern in postwar America. Little jars of baby food were thought to resolve a multitude of problems in the domestic sphere: they reduced parental anxieties about nutrition and health; they made caretakers feel empowered; and they offered women entering the workforce an irresistible convenience. But these baby food products laden with sugar, salt, and starch also became a gateway to the industrialized diet that blossomed during this period.
Today, baby food continues to be shaped by medical, commercial, and parenting trends. Baby food producers now contend with health and nutrition problems as well as the rise of alternative food movements. All of this matters because, as the author suggests, it’s during infancy that American palates become acclimated to tastes and textures, including those of highly processed, minimally nutritious, and calorie-dense industrial food products.
Food, Family, and Community in New York City
Looking at the historic Italian American community of East Harlem in the 1920s and 30s, Simone Cinotto recreates the bustling world of Italian life in New York City and demonstrates how food was at the center of the lives of immigrants and their children. Drawing on a vast array of resources including fascinating, rarely explored primary documents and fresh approaches in the study of consumer culture, Cinotto argues that Italian immigrants created a distinctive culture of food as a symbolic response to the needs of immigrant life, from the struggle for personal and group identity to the pursuit of social and economic power. Adding a transnational dimension to the study of Italian American foodways, Cinotto recasts Italian American food culture as an American "invention" resonant with traces of tradition.