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Food and Philosophy

Selected Essays

Spencer Wertz

These essays on food and philosophy were written over several decades. Not only philosophers and historians but individuals who have an ongoing interest in food should relish them. The essays cover wide-ranging topics that include genetically modified organisms, chocolate and its world, food as art, the pornography of food, and the five flavors of Chinese cuisine. In addition, there are several chapters that deal with the refinement of erudite (professional) cuisine from popular (regional) cuisine in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Europe. One chapter stands alone as an analysis of the Native American cultural foundations of maize. The book opens with an essay on the philosophy of food history that addresses three fundamental problems: the duplication of sensations and taste, the understanding of recipes from other historical periods, and the sorts of judgments that are included or excluded in a historical narrative. The book ends with an exposition of R. G. Collingwood’s anthropology of eating and dining, which completes the discussion with an analysis of the magical symbolism of those cultural activities.

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Food and Power in Hawai‘i

Visions of Food Democracy

Edited by Aya Hirata Kimura and Krisnawati Suryanata

In Food and Power in Hawai`i, island scholars and writers from backgrounds in academia, farming, and community organizations discuss new ways of looking at food policy and practices in terms of social justice and sustainability. Each of the nine essays describes Hawai`i’s foodscapes and collectively makes the case that food is a focal point for public policy making, social activism, and cultural mobilization. With its rich case studies, the volume aims to further debate on the agrofood system and extends the discussion of food problems in Hawai`i. Given the island geography, high dependency on imported food has often been portrayed as the primary challenge in Hawai`i, and the traditional response has been localized food production. The book argues, however, that aspects such as differentiated access, the history of colonization, and the neoliberalized nature of the economy also need to be considered for the right transformation of our food system.

The essays point out the diversity of food challenges that Hawai`i faces. They include controversies over land use policies, a gendered and racialized farming population, benefits and costs of biotechnology, stratified access to nutritious foods, as well as ensuring the economic viability of farms. Defying the reductive approach that looks only at calories or tonnage of food produced and consumed as indicators of a sound food system, Food and Power in Hawai`i shows how food problems are necessarily layered with other sociocultural and economic problems, and uses food democracy as the guiding framework. By linking the debate on food explicitly to the issues of power and democracy, each contributor seeks to reframe a discourse, previously focused on increasing the volume of locally grown food or protecting farms, into the broader objectives of ecological sustainability and economic viability.

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Food, Farms, and Community

Exploring Food Systems

Lisa Chase

Throughout the United States, people are increasingly concerned about where their food comes from, how it is produced, and how its production affects individuals and their communities. The answers to these questions reveal a complex web of interactions. While large, distant farms and multinational companies dominate at national and global levels, innovative programs including farmers’ markets, farm-to-school initiatives, and agritourism are forging stronger connections between people and food at local and regional levels. At all levels of the food system, energy use, climate change, food safety, and the maintenance of farmland for the future are critical considerations. The need to understand food systems—what they are, who’s involved, and how they work (or don’t)—has never been greater.

Food, Farms, and Community: Exploring Food Systems takes an in-depth look at critical issues, successful programs, and challenges for improving food systems spanning a few miles to a few thousand miles. Case studies that delve into the values that drive farmers, food advocates, and food entrepreneurs are interwoven with analysis supported by the latest research. Examples of entrepreneurial farms and organizations working together to build sustainable food systems are relevant to the entire country—and reveal results that are about much more than fresh food.

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Food in the American Gilded Age

Food was incredibly diverse in post–Civil War America. It was an era of gross income inequality, and differences in diet reflected the deep disparities between upper and lower classes, as well as the expansion of a flourishing middle class. In this book, excerpts from a wide range of Gilded Age sources—from period cookbooks to advice manuals to dietary studies—reveal how jarringly eating and cooking differed between classes and regions at a time when technology and industrialization were transforming what and how people ate. Most of all, they show how strongly the fabled glitz of wealthy Americans in the Gilded Age contrasted with the lives of most Americans. Featuring a variety of sources as well as accessible essays putting those sources into context, this book provides a remarkable portrait of food in a singular era in American history, giving a glimpse into the kinds of meals eaten everywhere from high society banquets to the meanest tenements and sharecropping cabins.
 
 

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Food in Time and Place

The American Historical Association Companion to Food History

Paul Freedman

Food and cuisine are important subjects for historians across many areas of study.  Food is after all one of the most basic human needs and a foundational part of social and cultural histories. Such topics as famines, food supply, nutrition, and public health are addressed by historians throughout every era and spanning every nation.

Food in Time and Place delivers an unprecedented review of the state of historical research on food, endorsed by the American Historical Association, providing readers with geographically, chronologically, and topically broad understanding of food cultures—from ancient Mediterranean and medieval societies to France and its domination of haute cuisine. Teachers, students, and scholars in food history will appreciate coverage of different thematic concerns, such as transfers of crops, conquest, colonization, immigration, and modern forms of globalization.

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The Food Insecurities of Zimbabwean Migrants in Urban South Africa

Jonathan Crush

This report examines the food security status of Zimbabwean migrant households in the poorer areas of two major South African cities, Johannesburg and Cape Town. The vast majority were food insecure in terms of the amount of food to which they had access and the quality and diversity of their diet. What seems clear is that Zimbabwean migrants are significantly more food insecure than other low-income households. The primary reason for this appears to lie in pressures that include remittances of cash and goods back to family in Zimbabwe. The small literature on the impact of migrant remittances on food security tends to look only at the recipients and how their situation is improved. It does not look at the impact of remitting on those who send remittances. Most Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa feel a strong obligation to remit, but to do so they must make choices because of their limited and unpredictable income. Food is one of the first things to be sacrificed. Quantities decline, cheaper foods are preferred, and dietary quality and diversity inevitably suffer. This study found that while migrants were dissatisfied with the shrinking job market in South Africa, most felt that they would be unlikely to find work in Zimbabwe and that a return would worsen their household�s food security situation. In other words, while food insecurity in Zimbabwe is a major driver of migration to South Africa, food insecurity in South Africa is unlikely to encourage many to return.

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Food Justice

Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi

To combat these inequities and excesses, a movement for food justice has emerged in recent years seeking to transform the food system from seed to table. In Food Justice, Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi tell the story of this emerging movement.

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Food Trucks, Cultural Identity, and Social Justice

From Loncheras to Lobsta Love

Julian Agyeman

The food truck on the corner could be a brightly painted old-style lonchera offering tacos or an upscale mobile vendor serving lobster rolls. Customers range from gastro-tourists to construction workers, all eager for food that is delicious, authentic, and relatively inexpensive. Although some cities that host food trucks encourage their proliferation, others throw up regulatory roadblocks. This book examines the food truck phenomenon in North American cities from Los Angeles to Montreal, taking a novel perspective: social justice. It considers the motivating factors behind a city's promotion or restriction of mobile food vending, and how these motivations might connect to or impede broad goals of social justice.

The contributors investigate the discriminatory implementation of rules, with gentrified hipsters often receiving preferential treatment over traditional immigrants; food trucks as part of community economic development; and food trucks' role in cultural identity formation. They describe, among other things, mobile food vending in Portland, Oregon, where relaxed permitting encourages street food; the criminalization of food trucks by Los Angeles and New York City health codes; food as cultural currency in Montreal; social and spatial bifurcation of food trucks in Chicago and Durham, North Carolina; and food trucks as a part of Vancouver, Canada's, self-branding as the "Greenest City."

ContributorsJulian Agyeman, Sean Basinski, Jennifer Clark, Ana Croegaert, Kathleen Dunn, Renia Ehrenfeucht, Emma French, Matthew Gebhardt, Phoebe Godfrey, Amy Hanser, Robert Lemon, Nina Martin, Caitlin Matthews, Nathan McClintock, Alfonso Morales, Alan Nash, Katherine Alexandra Newman, Lenore Lauri Newman, Alex Novie, Matthew Shapiro, Hannah Sobel, Mark Vallianatos, Ginette Wessel, Edward Whittall, Mackenzie Wood

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Food Will Win the War

Minnesota Crops, Cook, and Conservation during World War I

Rae Katherine Eighmey

Meatless Mondays, Wheatless Wednesdays, vegetable gardens and chickens in every empty lot. When the United States entered World War I, Minnesotans responded to appeals for personal sacrifice and changed the way they cooked and ate in order to conserve food for the boys “over there.” Baking with corn and rye, eating simple meals based on locally grown food, consuming fewer calories, and wasting nothing in the kitchen became civic acts. High-energy foods and calories unconsumed on the American home front could help the food-starved, war-torn American Allies eat another day and fight another battle. Food historian Rae Katherine Eighmey engages readers with wide research and recipes drawn from rarely viewed letters, diaries, recipe books, newspaper accounts, government pamphlets, and public service fliers. She brings alive the unknown but unparalleled efforts to win the war made by ordinary “Citizen Soldiers”—farmers and city dwellers, lumberjacks and homemakers—who rolled up their sleeves to apply “can-do” ingenuity coupled with “must-do” drive. Their remarkable efforts transformed everyday life and set the stage for the United States’ postwar economic and political ascendance.

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Foodways and Daily Life in Medieval Anatolia

A New Social History

By Nicolas Trépanier

Bringing to life an overlooked aspect of the dawn of the Ottoman empire, this illuminating study uses the prism of food—from farming to mealtimes, religious rituals, and commerce—to understand how Anatolian society gave rise to a superpower.

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