front cover of The Paradox of Agrarian Change
The Paradox of Agrarian Change
Food Security and the Politics of Social Protection in Indonesia
Edited by John McCarthy, Andrew McWilliam, and Gerben Nooteboom
National University of Singapore Press, 2023
A detailed study of agrarian change, the persistence of food insecurity, and the most significant policy to address poverty in rural Indonesia.
Economic growth in the middle-income countries of Southeast Asia over the past few decades has been widely praised for reducing poverty in both absolute and relative terms. Indonesia is a prime example. But while poverty has declined in Indonesia, patterns of food poverty persist across Indonesia. What explains this troubling paradox? How does it relate to Indonesia’s enthusiastic embrace of the “entitlements revolution,” the use of direct cash transfers as a tool for reducing poverty and building social inclusion?
This book analyzes the nature and social consequences of economic development and agrarian change processes in rural Indonesia in relation to the scope and effectiveness of Indonesia’s social protection programs. The findings are based on a series of extensive ground-up case studies in Indonesian communities in a variety of eco-agrarian settings that seek to understand the drivers of food insecurity and vulnerability at a household level. The results show that while high-value farming, diversification, and migration may offer a means of economic progress for poor households, opportunities for accumulation are limited. This, the authors show, is due to the way class, gender, and power work in remote local contexts, and the fact that much surplus income is used for enhanced consumption and changing lifestyles. There are few signs of the classical structural transformation of the countryside which has historically been considered the most decisive pathway out of rural poverty. The authors conclude that social assistance is unlikely to counter the persistence of rural poverty, food insecurity, and precarity in the absence of other redistributive strategies that shift the structural drivers of inequality.

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Pasta, Pizza and Propaganda
A Political History of Italian Food TV
Francesco Buscemi
Intellect Books, 2021
The history of Italy since the mid-1950s retold through the lens of food television.

In this dynamic interdisciplinary study at the intersection of food studies, media studies, and politics, Francesco Buscemi explores the central role of food in Italian culture through a political history of Italian food on national television. A highly original work of political history, the book tells the story of Italian food television from a political point of view: from the pioneering shows developed under strict Catholic control in the 1950s and 1960s to the left-wing political twists of the 1970s, the conservative riflusso or resurgence of the 1980s, through the disputed Berlusconian era, and into the contemporary rise of the celebrity chef. Through this lively and engaging work, we learn that cooking spaghetti in a TV studio is a political act, and by watching it, we become citizens.

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Pedaling Resistance
Sympathy, Subversion, and Vegan Cycling
Carol J. Adams
University of Arkansas Press, 2024
Vegans and cyclists are often outsiders, negotiating food systems and built environments that tend to prioritize omnivores and motor vehicles by default. Pedaling Resistance: Sympathy, Subversion, and Vegan Cycling examines the relationship between veganism and cycling through the journeys, experiences, and reflections of a dozen vegan cyclists from the United States and beyond.
The essays in this collection explore the unity between cycling for health, work, competition, transport, and joy, and the issues of animal suffering, environmentalism, and speciesism inherent in veganism—all through lenses of class, race, gender, and disability. Pedaling Resistance illuminates themes of everyday resistance and boundary crossing to uncover the greater social and political issues that underlie the decisions to give up animal products and choose cycling over driving.

front cover of A Perfect Pint's Beer Guide to the Heartland
A Perfect Pint's Beer Guide to the Heartland
Michael Agnew
University of Illinois Press, 2014
Once dominated by megabreweries like Miller and G. Heilemann, the Midwest has in recent years become home to a dynamic craft beer industry at the core of America's current brewing renaissance. Beer writer and Certified Cicerone® Michael Agnew crisscrossed Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin sampling the astonishing variety of beers on offer at breweries and brewpubs. The result is a region-wide survey of the Midwestern craft beer scene. Packed with details on more than 200 breweries, A Perfect Pint's Beer Guide to the Heartland offers actual and armchair travelers alike a handbook that includes:
  • Agnew's exclusive choices on which beers to try at each location
  • Entries on every brewery's history and philosophy
  • Information on tours, tasting rooms and attached pubs, and dining options and other amenities
  • A survey of each brewery's brands, including its flagship beer plus seasonal brews and special releases
  • Brewery equipment and capacity
  • Nearby attractions

In addition, Agnew sets the stage with a history of Midwestern beer spanning the origins of the immigrant brewers who arrived in the 1800s to the homebrewers-made-good who have built a new kind of brewing culture founded on creativity, dedication to quality, and attention to customer feedback.

Informed and unique, A Perfect Pint's Beer Guide to the Heartland is the essential companion for beer aficionados and curious others determined to drink the best the Midwest has to offer.

Includes more than 150 full color images, including the region's most distinctive beer labels, trademarks, and company logos.


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Pink Gold
Women, Shrimp, and Work in Mexico
Maria L. Cruz-Torres
University of Texas Press, 2023

A rich, long-term ethnography of women seafood traders in Mexico.

The "shrimp ladies," locally known as changueras in southern Sinaloa, Mexico, sell seafood in open-air markets, forming an extralegal but key part of the economy built around this "pink gold.” Over time, they struggled to evolve from marginalized peddlers to local icons depicted in popular culture, even as they continue to work at an open-air street market.

Pink Gold documents the shrimp traders' resilience and resourcefulness, from their early conflicts with the city, state, and federal authorities and forming a union, to carving out a physical space for a seafood market, and even engaging in conflicts with the Mexican military. Drawing from her two decades of fieldwork, María L. Cruz-Torres explores the inspiring narrative of this overlooked group of women involving grassroots politics, trans-border and familial networking, debt and informal economic practices, personal sacrifices, and simple courage. She argues that, amid intense economic competition, their success relies on group solidarity that creates interlocking networks of mutual trust, or confianza, that in turn enable them to cross social and political boundaries that would typically be closed to them. Ultimately, Pink Gold offers fresh insights into issues of gender and labor, urban public space, the street economy, commodities, and globalization.


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Plant Foods of Greece
A Culinary Journey to the Neolithic and Bronze Ages
Soultana Maria Valamoti
University of Alabama Press, 2023
2024 Inaugural Mary Beaudry Book Award for the Archaeology of Food

"This comprehensive, definitive volume, the result of 25 years of research on food archaeology, archaeobotany, and ethnobotany in Greece, surpasses other works on this topic, whether regional in focus or encompassing the whole world, for its detail, clarity, and assemblage of data sources. Highly recommended." —CHOICE
In Plant Foods of Greece, Greek archaeologist Soultana Maria Valamoti takes readers on a culinary journey, reconstructing the plant foods and culinary practices of Neolithic and Bronze Age Greece. For more than thirty years, she has been analyzing a large body of archaeobotanical data that was retrieved from nearly twenty sites in mainland Greece and the Greek islands, with an additional analysis of other sites as referenced by published colleagues. Plant foods were the main ingredients of daily meals in prehistoric Greece and most likely of special dishes prepared for feasts and rituals.

Valamoti’s approach allows an exploration of culinary variability through time. The thousands of charred seeds identified from occupation debris correspond to minuscule time capsules. She is able to document changes from the cooking of the first farmers to the sophisticated cuisines of the elites who inhabited palaces in the first cities of Europe in the south of Greece during the Late Bronze Age. Along the way, she explains the complex processes for the addition of new ingredients (such as millet and olives), condiments, sweet tastes, and complex recipes. Valamoti also addresses regional variability and diversity as well as detailing experimentation and research using occasional input from ancient written sources.

Comprehensive and synthetic coverage encompasses bread/cereals, pulses, oils, fruit and nuts, fermented brews, healing foods, cooking, and identity. In addition, Valamoti offers insight into engaging in public archaeology and provides recipes that incorporate ancient plant ingredients and connect prehistory to the present in a critical way. A definitive source for a range of food scientists and scholars, it will also appeal to foodies.

front cover of Political Ecologies of Cattle Ranching in Northern Mexico
Political Ecologies of Cattle Ranching in Northern Mexico
Private Revolutions
Eric P. Perramond
University of Arizona Press, 2010
Private ranchers survived the Mexican Revolution and the era of agrarian reforms, and they continue to play key roles in the ecology and economy of northern Mexico.

In this study of the Río Sonora region of northern Mexico, where ranchers own anywhere from several hundred to tens of thousands of acres, Eric Perramond evaluates management techniques, labor expenditures, gender roles, and decision-making on private ranches of varying size. By examining the economic and ecological dimensions of daily decisions made on and off the ranch he shows that, contrary to prevailing notions, ranchers rarely collude as a class unless land titles are at issue, and that their decision-making is as varied as the landscapes they oversee.

Through first-hand observation, field measurements, and intimate ethnographies, Perramond sheds light on a complex set of decisions made, avoided, and confronted by these land managers and their families. He particularly shows that ranching has endured because of its extended kinship network, its reliance on all household members, and its close ties to local politics.

Perramond follows ranchers caught between debt, drought, and declining returns to demonstrate the novel approaches they have developed to adapt to changing economies and ecologies alike—such as strategically marketing the ranches for wild-game hunting or establishing small businesses that subsidize their lifestyles and livelihoods. Even more importantly, he reveals the false dichotomy between private and communal ranching. Political Ecologies of Cattle Ranching in Northern Mexico is essential reading for anyone interested in the future of ranching in western North America.

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The Political Ecology of Education
Brazil's Landless Workers' Movement and the Politics of Knowledge
David Meek
West Virginia University Press, 2020
Agrarian social movements are at a crossroads. Although these movements have made significant strides in advancing the concept of food sovereignty, the reality is that many of their members remain engaged in environmentally degrading forms of agriculture, and the lands they farm are increasingly unproductive. Whether movement farmers will be able to remain living on the land, and dedicated to alternative agricultural practices, is a pressing question.

The Political Ecology of Education examines the opportunities for and constraints on advancing food sovereignty in the 17 de Abril settlement, a community born out of a massacre of landless Brazilian workers in 1996. Based on immersive fieldwork over the course of seven years, David Meek makes the provocative argument that critical forms of food systems education are integral to agrarian social movements’ survival. While the need for critical approaches is especially immediate in the Amazon, Meek’s study speaks to the burgeoning attention to food systems education at various educational levels worldwide, from primary to postgraduate programs. His book calls us to rethink the politics of the possible within these pedagogies.

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Population, Agriculture, and Biodiversity
Problems and Prospects
J. Perry Gustafson
University of Missouri Press, 2020
This timely collection of 15 original essays written by expert scientists the world over addresses the relationships between human population growth, the need to increase food supplies to feed the world population, and the chances for avoiding the extinction of a major proportion of the world's plant and animal species that collectively makes our survival on Earth possible. These relationships are highly intertwined, and changes in each of them steadily decrease humankind’s chances to achieve environmental stability on our fragile planet.
The world population is projected to be nine to ten billion by 2050, signaling the need to increase world food production by more than 70 percent on the same amount of land currently under production—and this without further damaging our fragile environment. The essays in this collection, written by experts for laypersons, present the problems we face with clarity and assess our prospects for solving them, calling for action but holding out viable solutions.

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American Animality, Standardized Life, and the Factory Farm
Alex Blanchette
Duke University Press, 2020
In the 1990s a small midwestern American town approved the construction of a massive pork complex, where almost 7 million hogs are birthed, raised, and killed every year. In Porkopolis Alex Blanchette explores how this rural community has been reorganized around the life and death cycles of corporate pigs. Drawing on over two years of ethnographic fieldwork, Blanchette immerses readers into the workplaces that underlie modern meat, from slaughterhouses and corporate offices to artificial insemination barns and bone-rendering facilities. He outlines the deep human-hog relationships and intimacies that emerge through intensified industrialization, showing how even the most mundane human action, such as a wayward touch, could have serious physical consequences for animals. Corporations' pursuit of a perfectly uniform, standardized pig—one that can yield materials for over 1000 products—creates social and environmental instabilities that transform human lives and livelihoods. Throughout Porkopolis, which includes dozens of images by award-winning photographer Sean Sprague, Blanchette uses factory farming to rethink the fraught state of industrial capitalism in the United States today.

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The Problem with Feeding Cities
The Social Transformation of Infrastructure, Abundance, and Inequality in America
Andrew Deener
University of Chicago Press, 2020
For most people, grocery shopping is a mundane activity. Few stop to think about the massive, global infrastructure that makes it possible to buy Chilean grapes in a Philadelphia supermarket in the middle of winter. Yet every piece of food represents an interlocking system of agriculture, manufacturing, shipping, logistics, retailing, and nonprofits that controls what we eat—or don’t.

The Problem with Feeding Cities is a sociological and historical examination of how this remarkable network of abundance and convenience came into being over the last century. It looks at how the US food system transformed from feeding communities to feeding the entire nation, and it reveals how a process that was once about fulfilling basic needs became focused on satisfying profit margins. It is also a story of how this system fails to feed people, especially in the creation of food deserts. Andrew Deener shows that problems with food access are the result of infrastructural failings stemming from how markets and cities were developed, how distribution systems were built, and how organizations coordinate the quality and movement of food. He profiles hundreds of people connected through the food chain, from farmers, wholesalers, and supermarket executives, to global shippers, logistics experts, and cold-storage operators, to food bank employees and public health advocates. It is a book that will change the way we see our grocery store trips and will encourage us all to rethink the way we eat in this country.

front cover of Prosperity Far Distant
Prosperity Far Distant
The Journal of an American Farmer, 1933–1934
Charles M. Wiltse
Ohio University Press, 2012

Fresh from receiving a doctorate from Cornell University in 1933, but unable to find work, Charles M. Wiltse joined his parents on the small farm they had recently purchased in southern Ohio. There, the Wiltses scratched out a living selling eggs, corn, and other farm goods at prices that were barely enough to keep the farm intact.

In wry and often affecting prose, Wiltse recorded a year in the life of this quintessentially American place during the Great Depression. He describes the family’s daily routine, occasional light moments, and their ongoing frustrations, small and large—from a neighbor’s hog that continually broke into the cornfields to the ongoing struggle with their finances. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal had little to offer small farmers, and despite repeated requests, the family could not secure loans from local banks to help them through the hard economic times. Wiltse spoke the bitter truth when he told his diary, “We are not a lucky family.” In this he represented millions of others caught in the maw of a national disaster.

The diary is introduced and edited by Michael J. Birkner, Wiltse’s former colleague at the Papers of Daniel Webster Project at Dartmouth College, and coeditor, with Wiltse, of the final volume of Webster’s correspondence.


front cover of The Provisions of War
The Provisions of War
Expanding the Boundaries of Food and Conflict, 1840-1990
Justin Nordstrom
University of Arkansas Press, 2021

The Provisions of War examines how soldiers, civilians, communities, and institutions have used food and its absence as both a destructive weapon and a unifying force in establishing governmental control and cultural cohesion during times of conflict. Historians as well as scholars of literature, regional studies, and religious studies problematize traditional geographic boundaries and periodization in this essay collection, analyzing various conflicts of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries through a foodways lens to reveal new insights about the parameters of armed interactions.

The subjects covered are as varied and inclusive as the perspectives offered—ranging from topics like military logistics and animal disease in colonial Africa, Indian vegetarian identity, and food in the counterinsurgency of the Malayan Emergency, to investigations of hunger in Egypt after World War I and American soldiers’ role in the making of US–Mexico borderlands. Taken together, the essays here demonstrate the role of food in shaping prewar political debates and postwar realities, revealing how dietary adjustments brought on by military campaigns reshape national and individual foodways and identities long after the cessation of hostilities


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