front cover of Salt in Eastern North America and the Caribbean
Salt in Eastern North America and the Caribbean
History and Archaeology
Edited by Ashley A. Dumas and Paul N. Eubanks
University of Alabama Press, 2021
Case studies examining the archaeological record of an overlooked mineral
Salt, once a highly prized trade commodity essential for human survival, is often overlooked in research because it is invisible in the archaeological record. Salt in Eastern North America and the Caribbean: History and Archaeology brings salt back into archaeology, showing that it was valued as a dietary additive, had curative powers, and was a substance of political power and religious significance for Native Americans. Major salines were embedded in collective memories and oral traditions for thousands of years as places where physical and spiritual needs could be met. Ethnohistoric documents for many Indian cultures describe the uses of and taboos and other beliefs about salt.
The volume is organized into two parts: Salt Histories and Salt in Society. Case studies from prehistory to post-Contact and from New York to Jamaica address what techniques were used to make salt, who was responsible for producing it, how it was used, the impact it had on settlement patterns and sociopolitical complexity, and how economies of salt changed after European contact. Noted salt archaeologist Heather McKillop provides commentary to conclude the volume.

front cover of Saving Seeds, Preserving Taste
Saving Seeds, Preserving Taste
Heirloom Seed Savers in Appalachia
Bill Best
Ohio University Press, 2013

The Brown Goose, the White Case Knife, Ora’s Speckled Bean, Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter—these are just a few of the heirloom fruits and vegetables you’ll encounter in Bill Best’s remarkable history of seed saving and the people who preserve both unique flavors and the Appalachian culture associated with them. As one of the people at the forefront of seed saving and trading for over fifty years, Best has helped preserve numerous varieties of beans, tomatoes, corn, squashes, and other fruits and vegetables, along with the family stories and experiences that are a fundamental part of this world. While corporate agriculture privileges a few flavorless but hardy varieties of daily vegetables, seed savers have worked tirelessly to preserve genetic diversity and the flavors rooted in the Southern Appalachian Mountains—referred to by plant scientists as one of the vegetative wonders of the world.

Saving Seeds, Preserving Taste will introduce readers to the cultural traditions associated with seed saving, as well as the remarkable people who have used grafting practices and hand-by-hand trading to keep alive varieties that would otherwise have been lost. As local efforts to preserve heirloom seeds have become part of a growing national food movement, Appalachian seed savers play a crucial role in providing alternatives to large-scale agriculture and corporate food culture. Part flavor guide, part people’s history, Saving Seeds, Preserving Taste will introduce you to a world you’ve never known—or perhaps remind you of one you remember well from your childhood.


front cover of Seeds of Resistance, Seeds of Hope
Seeds of Resistance, Seeds of Hope
Place and Agency in the Conservation of Biodiversity
Edited by Virginia D. Nazarea, Robert E. Rhoades, and Jenna E. Andrews-Swann
University of Arizona Press, 2013
Food is more than simple sustenance. It feeds our minds as well as our bodies. It nurtures us emotionally as well as physically. It holds memories. In fact, one of the surprising consequences of globalization and urbanization is the expanding web of emotional attachments to farmland, to food growers, and to place. And there is growing affection, too, for home gardening and its “grow your own food” ethos. Without denying the gravity of the problems of feeding the earth’s population while conserving its natural resources, Seeds of Resistance, Seeds of Hope reminds us that there are many positive movements and developments that demonstrate the power of opposition and optimism.
This broad collection brings to the table a bag full of tools from anthropology, sociology, genetics, plant breeding, education, advocacy, and social activism. By design, multiple voices are included. They cross or straddle disciplinary, generational, national, and political borders. Contributors demonstrate the importance of cultural memory in the persistence of traditional or heirloom crops, as well as the agency exhibited by displaced and persecuted peoples in place-making and reconstructing nostalgic landscapes (including gardens from their homelands). Contributions explore local initiatives to save native and older seeds, the use of modern technologies to conserve heirloom plants, the bioconservation efforts of indigenous people, and how genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been successfully combated. Together they explore the conservation of biodiversity at different scales, from different perspectives, and with different theoretical and methodological approaches. Collectively, they demonstrate that there is reason for hope.

front cover of The Sheep Industry of Territorial New Mexico
The Sheep Industry of Territorial New Mexico
Livestock, Land, and Dollars
Jon M. Wallace
University Press of Colorado, 2023
The Sheep Industry of Territorial New Mexico offers a detailed account of the New Mexico sheep industry during the territorial period (1846–1912) when it flourished. As a mainstay of the New Mexico economy, this industry was essential to the integration of New Mexico (and the Southwest more broadly) into the national economy of the expanding United States.
Author Jon Wallace tells the story of evolving living conditions as the sheep industry came to encompass innumerable families of modest means. The transformation improved many New Mexicans’ lives and helped establish the territory as a productive part of the United States. There was a cost, however, with widespread ecological changes to the lands—brought about in large part by heavy grazing. Following the US annexation of New Mexico, new markets for mutton and wool opened. Well-connected, well-financed Anglo merchants and growers who had recently arrived in the territory took advantage of the new opportunity and joined their Hispanic counterparts in entering the sheep industry.
The Sheep Industry of Territorial New Mexico situates this socially imbued economic story within the larger context of the environmental consequences of open-range grazing while examining the relationships among Hispanic, Anglo, and Indigenous people in the region. Historians, students, general readers, and specialists interested in the history of agriculture, labor, capitalism, and the US Southwest will find Wallace’s analysis useful and engaging.

front cover of Smothered and Covered
Smothered and Covered
Waffle House and the Southern Imaginary
Ty Matejowsky
University of Alabama Press, 2023
A critical meditation of the iconic 24-7 roadside chain and its place in the southern imaginary
Waffle House has long been touted as an icon of the American South. The restaurant’s consistent foregrounding as a resonant symbol of regional character proves relevant for understanding much about the people, events, and foodways shaping the sociopolitical contours of today’s Bible Belt. Whether approached as a comedic punchline on the Internet, television, and other popular media or elevated as a genuine touchstone of messy American modernity, Waffle House, its employees, and everyday clientele do much to transcend such one-dimensional characterizations, earning distinction in ways that regularly go unsung.

Smothered and Covered: Waffle House and the Southern Imaginary is the first book to socioculturally assess the chain within the field of contemporary food studies. In this groundbreaking work, Ty Matejowsky argues that Waffle House’s often beleaguered public persona is informed by various complexities and contradictions. Critically unpacking the iconic eatery from a less reductive perspective offers readers a more realistic and nuanced portrait of Waffle House, shedding light on how it both reflects and influences a prevailing southern imaginary—an amorphous and sometimes conflicting collection of images, ideas, attitudes, practices, linguistic accents, histories, and fantasies that frames understandings about a vibrant if also paradoxical geographic region.

Matejowsky discusses Waffle House’s roots in established southern foodways and traces the chain’s development from a lunch-counter restaurant that emerged across the South. He also considers Waffle House’s place in American and southern popular culture, highlighting its myriad depictions in music, television, film, fiction, stand-up comedy, and sports. Altogether, Matejowsky deftly and persuasively demonstrates how Waffle House serves as a microcosm of today’s South with all the accolades and criticisms this distinction entails.

front cover of Society, Power, and Land in Northeastern Zimbabwe, ca. 1560–1960
Society, Power, and Land in Northeastern Zimbabwe, ca. 1560–1960
Admire Mseba
Ohio University Press, 2024
A little over two decades ago, Zimbabwe undertook its Fast Track Land Reform Programme. Critics saw it as nothing more than an assault on human and property rights for political expedience by a ruling elite that was fast losing its power. In contrast, those sympathetic to the land reform program saw it as fundamental to the righting of colonialism’s historical wrongs. Yet, rural displacements at the hands of state actors, or of those closely connected to them, continue. As in the past, the continuing land conflicts are mostly understood as the result of the actions of an authoritarian state that exploits its control of land for the political and economic benefit of those who inhabit it. These explanations share one thing in common: each understands the country’s perpetual land questions in terms of the actions or inactions of the colonial or the postcolonial state. This book refocuses attention on how regimes of power rooted in kinship, gender, generation, and status have, individually and in combination, informed access to land in precolonial northeastern Zimbabwe. It then examines how these regimes of power interacted with colonial policies to inform the African experience in colonial Zimbabwe. Further, the book places land and the ability to ensure its fecundity at the center of the making and moderation of precolonial political power and how this power was impacted by the imposition of colonial rule. Tracing the dynamics of land and power from precolonial times, together with their entanglement with colonial policies, is important, for this relationship is almost always neglected by both scholars and policymakers drawn to the high drama of colonial and postcolonial politics of land. This oversight has real consequences on our understandings of landed inequalities and how they are addressed. When Zimbabwe’s postcolonial state focused on colonially induced racialized land inequalities, its land reform efforts left older forms of landed inequalities based on gender, generation, and ideas of belonging intact. The book, which details these inequalities, reminds Zimbabweans and others that if the quest for equity espoused in postcolonial land reforms is to be meaningful, it must be attentive to both colonially induced inequalities and those enduring disparities that predated, were deepened by, and outlived colonial rule. At the same time, Zimbabweans who now live with a postcolonial state that is increasingly centralizing power over land may well learn from past societies’ creative efforts to limit the authority of their leaders.

front cover of Sowing the Seeds of Change
Sowing the Seeds of Change
The Story of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona
Seth Schindler
University of Arizona Press, 2021
This is the story of a remarkable organization’s sustained, compassionate response to a problem of staggering proportions: there are about 35 million food-insecure people in America today.

The numbers are no less shocking in southern Arizona: one in six residents, and one in four children, are food insecure. How can this be in the richest country in the world? This book explores that paradox and the innovative solutions that one organization has developed to create a healthier, more secure tomorrow for the less fortunate among us.

The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona (CFB) is one of the oldest and most respected food banks in America. It is a widely recognized leader not simply in providing hunger relief but in attacking the root causes of hunger and poverty through community development, education, and advocacy. In 2018, Feeding America—the national organization of food banks—named it “Food Bank of the Year.” The CFB serves as a model for all nonprofits to follow, no matter their mission.

This profusely illustrated book chronicles the CFB’s amazing success and evolution from a tiny grassroots hunger-relief organization to one with more than six thousand workers and an annual budget exceeding $100 million. The book gives voice to the thousands of CFB participants past and present, weaving their profiles and quotes throughout the book. These profiles personalize the history of the CFB and give readers an insider’s perspective on the people and events that shaped the food bank’s success. It shows how individuals working together can help prevent hunger and break the cycle of poverty that is its cause.

The aim of Sowing the Seeds of Change is not to laud the CFB’s achievements. It is to demonstrate to readers that the war against hunger, despite the obstacles, can be won. And not tomorrow. Now!


front cover of State of the World 2011
State of the World 2011
Innovations that Nourish the Planet
The Worldwatch Institute
Island Press, 2015
A compelling look at the global food crisis, with particular emphasis on global innovations that can help solve a worldwide problem. State of the World 2011 not only introduces us to the latest agro-ecological innovations and their global applicability but also gives broader insights into issues including poverty, international politics, and even gender equity.

front cover of Steeped in Heritage
Steeped in Heritage
The Racial Politics of South African Rooibos Tea
Sarah Ives
Duke University Press, 2017
South African rooibos tea is a commodity of contrasts. Renowned for its healing properties, the rooibos plant grows in a region defined by the violence of poverty, dispossession, and racism. And while rooibos is hailed as an ecologically indigenous commodity, it is farmed by people who struggle to express “authentic” belonging to the land: Afrikaners, who espouse a “white” African indigeneity, and “coloureds,” who are characterized either as the mixed-race progeny of “extinct” Bushmen or as possessing a false identity, indigenous to nowhere. In Steeped in Heritage Sarah Ives explores how these groups advance alternate claims of indigeneity based on the cultural ownership of an indigenous plant. This heritage-based struggle over rooibos shows how communities negotiate landscapes marked by racial dispossession within an ecosystem imperiled by climate change and precarious social relations in the postapartheid era.

front cover of Stirring the Pot
Stirring the Pot
A History of African Cuisine
James C. McCann
Ohio University Press, 2009

Africa’s art of cooking is a key part of its history. All too often Africa is associated with famine, but in Stirring the Pot, James C. McCann describes how the ingredients, the practices, and the varied tastes of African cuisine comprise a body of historically gendered knowledge practiced and perfected in households across diverse human and ecological landscape. McCann reveals how tastes and culinary practices are integral to the understanding of history and more generally to the new literature on food as social history.

Stirring the Pot offers a chronology of African cuisine beginning in the sixteenth century and continuing from Africa’s original edible endowments to its globalization. McCann traces cooks’ use of new crops, spices, and tastes, including New World imports like maize, hot peppers, cassava, potatoes, tomatoes, and peanuts, as well as plantain, sugarcane, spices, Asian rice, and other ingredients from the Indian Ocean world. He analyzes recipes, not as fixed ahistorical documents,but as lively and living records of historical change in women’s knowledge and farmers’ experiments. A final chapter describes in sensuous detail the direct connections of African cooking to New Orleans jambalaya, Cuban rice and beans, and the cooking of African Americans’ “soul food.”

Stirring the Pot breaks new ground and makes clear the relationship between food and the culture, history, and national identity of Africans.


front cover of The Story of Food in the Human Past
The Story of Food in the Human Past
How What We Ate Made Us Who We Are
Robyn E. Cutright
University of Alabama Press, 2021
A sweeping overview of how and what humans have eaten in their long history as a species
The Story of Food in the Human Past: How What We Ate Made Us Who We Are uses case studies from recent archaeological research to tell the story of food in human prehistory. Beginning with the earliest members of our genus, Robyn E. Cutright investigates the role of food in shaping who we are as humans during the emergence of modern Homo sapiens and through major transitions in human prehistory such as the development of agriculture and the emergence of complex societies.

This fascinating study begins with a discussion of how food shaped humans in evolutionary terms by examining what makes human eating unique, the use of fire to cook, and the origins of cuisine as culture and adaptation through the example of Neandertals. The second part of the book describes how cuisine was reshaped when humans domesticated plants and animals and examines how food expressed ancient social structures and identities such as gender, class, and ethnicity. Cutright shows how food took on special meaning in feasts and religious rituals and also pays attention to the daily preparation and consumption of food as central to human society.

Cutright synthesizes recent paleoanthropological and archaeological research on ancient diet and cuisine and complements her research on daily diet, culinary practice, and special-purpose mortuary and celebratory meals in the Andes with comparative case studies from around the world to offer readers a holistic view of what humans ate in the past and what that reveals about who we are.


front cover of Sugar Cane Capitalism and Environmental Transformation
Sugar Cane Capitalism and Environmental Transformation
An Archaeology of Colonial Nevis, West Indies
Marco G. Meniketti
University of Alabama Press, 2015
Offers a rare exploration of the substantial environmental impact of capitalist sugar agriculture, colonial settlement, and the Atlantic slave trade on the Caribbean island of Nevis

In this deeply researched and multifaceted study, Marco G. Meniketti demonstrates how the landscape of the small Caribbean island of Nevis preserves and reveals artifacts and evidence of the highly complex and interrelated seventeenth- to nineteenth-century “Atlantic Economy,” comprising early capitalist sugar production, the African slave trade, and European settlement.
Sugar Cane Capitalism and Environmental Transformation is based on twelve seasons of meticulous archaeological field work and documentary research. Although Nevis was once a bustling hub of the British colonial project, the emigration of emancipated slaves and abandonment by European planters left large swathes of Nevis vacant. Reclaimed by forests and undisturbed by later waves of economic development, the island—dotted with fascinating ruins, debris from the sugar industry, windmills, chimneys, and multistoried great house—provided Meniketti with an ideal subject for archaeological inquiry.

Through intensive archaeological and landscape surveys of multiple key plantation sites, Meniketti traces the development of Nevis from its initial European settlement in 1627 to its central role as a British mercantile hub and a laboratory and prototype of capitalist sugar cultivation. His nuanced analysis explains the backdrop of European political and economic rivalries, of which the colonial agro-industrial enterprises were the physical manifestations, and makes telling comparisons with Dutch and French archaeological sites. The work also compares and contrasts the adoption of capitalist modes of sugar production and socialization at wealthy and middling plantation sites.
Supported with a wealth of photos, tables, and maps, Sugar Cane Capitalism and Environmental Transformation offers a vital case study of one island whose environment and archaeological record illuminates the complex webs of Atlantic history.

front cover of Sugarcane and Rum
Sugarcane and Rum
The Bittersweet History of Labor and Life on the Yucatán Peninsula
John R. Gust and Jennifer P. Mathews
University of Arizona Press, 2020

While the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico may conjure up images of vacation getaways and cocktails by the sea, these easy stereotypes hide a story filled with sweat and toil. The story of sugarcane and rum production in the Caribbean has been told many times. But few know the bittersweet story of sugar and rum in the jungles of the Yucatán Peninsula during the nineteenth century. This is much more than a history of coveted commodities. The unique story that unfolds in John R. Gust and Jennifer P. Mathews’s new history Sugarcane and Rum is told through the lens of Maya laborers who worked under brutal conditions on small haciendas to harvest sugarcane and produce rum.

Gust and Mathews weave together ethnographic interviews and historical archives with archaeological evidence to bring the daily lives of Maya workers into focus. They lived in a cycle of debt, forced to buy all of their supplies from the company store and take loans from the hacienda owners. And yet they had a certain autonomy because the owners were so dependent on their labor at harvest time. We also see how the rise of cantinas and distilled alcohol in the nineteenth century affected traditional Maya culture and that the economies of Cancún and the Mérida area are predicated on the rum-influenced local social systems of the past. Sugarcane and Rum brings this bittersweet story to the present and explains how rum continues to impact the Yucatán and the people who have lived there for millennia.


front cover of Sustainable Food Systems
Sustainable Food Systems
The Role of the City
Robert Biel
University College London, 2016
Faced with a global threat to food security, it is perfectly possible that society will respond, not by a dystopian disintegration, but rather by reasserting co-operative traditions. This book, by a leading expert in urban agriculture, offers a genuine solution to today’s global food crisis. By contributing more to feeding themselves, cities can allow breathing space for the rural sector to convert to more organic sustainable approaches. Biel’s approach connects with current debates about agroecology and food sovereignty, asks key questions, and proposes lines of future research. He suggests that today’s food insecurity – manifested in a regime of wildly fluctuating prices – reflects not just temporary stresses in the existing mode of production, but more profoundly the troubled process of generating a new one. He argues that the solution cannot be implemented at a merely technical or political level: the force of change can only be driven by the kind of social movements which are now daring to challenge the existing unsustainable order. Drawing on both his academic research and teaching, and 15 years’ experience as a practicing urban farmer, Biel brings a unique interdisciplinary approach to this key global issue, creating a dialogue between the physical and social sciences

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