Julie Guthman’s Weighing In awarded the James M. Blaut Innovative Publication Award

MRP member Julie Guthman’s second book, Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits to Capitalism (University of California Press) was recently awarded the James M. Blaut Innovative Publication Award from the Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers. Weighing In challenges many widely held assumptions about the causes and consequences of the “obesity epidemic,” included whether “good food” will solve the social and health dilemmas of today. This provocative book is garnering significant media attention; Guthman has been featured in the New York Times and on NPR. Several chapters were workshopped by the MRP and Guthman insists the book is stronger because of the feedback she received.

New Publication from Graduate Student Member Megan Carney

Megan Carney, Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at UC Santa Barbara and MRP member, has just published her article “‘Food Security’ and ‘Food Sovereignty’: What Frameworks are Best Suited for Social Equity in Food Systems” in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (2012, vol. 2, iss. 2). The article was workshopped at the 2010 dissertation retreat.

2011 Dissertation Retreat Features Innovative New Research in Food Studies

Graduate students and faculty met for the MRP’s fourth annual dissertation retreat on September 10-11, 2011 at the Westerbeke Ranch in Sonoma. Nine graduate students shared chapters and proposals for the group to review and critique. The five faculty and two additional graduate student attendees provided helpful feedback that will help the authors to produce more refined pieces that speak across the disciplines in food studies. Nearly half of the attendees were new to the program, demonstrating the strength of food studies across the UC system.

Studies of Food & the Body MRP Moving to UC Santa Cruz, Summer 2011

We are pleased to announce that administration for the UC Studies of Food & the Body Multicampus Research Program will be moving to UC Santa Cruz’s Institute for Humanities Research for the 2011-2012 academic year. Residing at UC Davis since its origination in 2008, the move will allow the program to flourish at another UC campus focused on agricultural production. For more details on the move, please see the article on the Davis Humanities Institute website.

Cultivating Food Justice: A new publication featuring MRP members

Look to the shelves for the upcoming publication of Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class and Sustainability. This volume was edited by MRP alum, Alison Alkon, with contributions from MRP members Julie Guthman, Melanie DuPuis, Laura-Anne Minkoff Zern and Breeze Harper. Alkon workshopped the introduction with program members, which helped to improve the text’s framing essay. The book is available from MIT Press in September 2011.

Lissa Caldwell’s new book Dacha Idylls is released

Dacha Idylls: Living Organically in Russia’s Countryside was published by the University of California Press in 2011 and has been attracting national and international attention. Based on long-term fieldwork in Russia, Dacha Idylls is an ethnographic study of the Russian tradition of the dacha, or summer cottage, and its culture of gardening, foraging, and natural foods. Members of the MRP workshopped sections of the book at a quarterly colloquium. Prof. Caldwell has been interviewed on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Here On Earth” and Voice of Russia, and her work is mentioned in a forthcoming (summer 2012) National Geographic article on dachas.

Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern receives Honorable Mention for paper reviewed by program

Click to see more images

Graduate student member Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern received an Honorable Mention from the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society Student Research Paper Awards for 2011 for her paper on “Pushing the Boundaries of Indigeneity and Agricultural Knowledge: Immigrant Community Gardening in California.” Studies of Food & the Body MRPI members workshopped this paper at the 2010 retreat and provided Minkoff-Zern with valuable feedback.

Food Anxieties Symposium at UCSC provokes much “food for thought”

The 2011 public event, “Food Anxieties: A Symposium on the Question of “What to Eat,” occurred on Monday, March 14, 2011, at the Bonny Doon Vineyard’s Cellar Door Restaurant in Santa Cruz. The event was well-attended, with over 80 people in attendance, including faculty, students, administrators, food industry representatives, and engaged community members. Guests enjoyed a stimulating dialogue between panelists on the opportunities and travails of food anxieties.

Panelists suggested that instead of being anxious about ways food affects our individual bodies, we should concern ourselves with the social and cultural consequences of food systems. Winemaker Randall Grahm entertained the crowd with insight into the culture of winemaking, and treated guests to a wine reception following the formal discussions.

Food and Foodways Special Issue devoted to MRP-featured research

A special issue of Food and Foodways titled “Food Globality and Foodways Localities” (volume 19, issues 1-2) features a number of papers from the Tasting Histories conference and was published in 2011. Carolyn de la Peña co-authored the introduction with Benjamin N. Lawrance and coordinated the special issue. MRP member contributions include Daniel Nemser, Stephanie Maroney, and Jenny Goldstein.

Michael Ziser participates in launching of the $1 billion campaign for UC Davis

Associate Professor Michael Ziser represented the Studies of Food and the Body MRPI at the kickoff for the UC Davis $1 Billion Campaign. He spoke about the crucial importance of understanding the role of food in human culture, and how scholars at UC Davis are working to better understand the history, meaning, and politics of food. This research complements the agricultural and scientific research for which the university is famous. Humanists who study the social and cultural contexts of food can add tremendous depth to public and industry knowledge. This important research can also be supported at a relatively low cost and flourishes in interdisciplinary settings.

Nick Bauch receives post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford University

Nick Bauch finished his doctoral degree from the Geography department at UCLA in June 2010. In September, he began a post-doctoral fellowship in the Introduction to the Humanities program at Stanford University. We can also look forward to reading his latest publication, “The Extensible Digestive System: The Case of the Kellogg Cereal Enterprise, 1890-1900″ in an upcoming issue of Cultural Geography. This piece was workshopped by Studies of Food & the Body MRP members at the 2009 dissertation retreat.

Carolyn de la Peña’s new book, Empty Pleasures, released

Empty Pleasures: The Story of Artificial Sweetners from Saccharin to Splenda has hit the shelves. This book takes readers from the laboratory to the kitchen in a delicious history of our ‘guilt-free’ indulgences. The New Yorker and NPR both feature the book, demonstrating its broad appeal. Members of the Studies of Food & the Body MRP workshopped sections of this publication at a quarterly colloquium. Dr. de la Peña was featured on “All Tech Considered,” part of NPR’s “All Things Considered” series through Capitol Public Radio out of Sacramento on Monday, September 6th. The segment can be listened to at the NPR website. The New Yorker featured Empty Pleasures as part of their blog, The Book Bench: Ask an Academic. This book also won the 2011 Association for the Study of Food and Society Book Award.

Ben Wurgaft receives Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship

Ben Wurgaft, a Studies of Food & the Body MRPI alum and recent graduate of UC Berkeley’s history department, was awarded a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the New School for Social Research. Wurgaft shares, “My work in food studies was absolutely critical to my selection.” While in New York City, he will be teaching a world food history survey course using the city as a classroom and taking students on various food tours.

Beyond calories and consumption, new book critiques obesity orthodoxies

Countering the so-called obesity crisis with local, organic, and seasonal food is a nice idea but one that is not likely to work, writes Julie Guthman, Associate Professor of community studies at UC Santa Cruz. Guthman challenges many widely held assumptions about the “obesity epidemic” in her new book, Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism (University of California Press, 2011). “I have nothing against “good food” – I eat it myself,” says Guthman, a self-confessed “foodie” whose father could be called a health-food nut in the 1950s and ’60s, “but the approach is based on assumptions about obesity’s causes and consequences that don’t hold up to scrutiny.” For the rest of the article, go to:

New Book on Postsocialist Food Cultures

Melissa L. Caldwell’s edited volume Food & Everyday Life in the Post-Socialist World has been published by Indiana University Press (2009). This collection of essays by ethnographers working across the postsocialist worlds of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe explores the role played by food as commodity, as symbol, and as sustenance in the profound transformations that have occurred across this region. Professor Caldwell’s introduction and chapter on the rise of coffeehouse culture and the remaking of civic space in Russia were workshopped in a quarterly MRP colloquium.