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FoodAnthropology

BY FOODANTHRO | AUGUST 30, 2013 8:15 PM


Do you know if your seafood is sustainable?
(Dont worry, neither do I)
Post by Lillian Brown, PhD student in Anthropology and Food Studies at Indiana University
I recently started a crowd-funding campaign for my dissertation research on sustainability in the seafood industry. I
want to know if I can, and how I would, determine whether or not the seafood on my plate is sustainable. To
answer this question, I need to have a pretty clear picture of where the particular seafood in question comes from.
Then I need to decide how to define and measure its sustainability. Most consumer-driven seafood conservation
efforts encourage individuals to engage in this type of informed decision-making, which is why I chose to start my
research at this stage of inquiry.
Having already worked on sustainable food systems and seafood research for a notable portion of my undergraduate
and graduate careers, I knew this would be no easy tasktherein laying the research potential. But I also knew that
by the time we consumers order seafood off a menu or a display case, someone else has already significantly
narrowed our options. This process limits the access we have to information about how this seafood got to the
marketplace, and what other options exist. Even the most intrepid consumers would have to work pretty hard to fill in
the gaps.
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I wondered where this hypothetical intrepid-consumer would start. So I decided to ask restaurants how they decide
what fish and shellfish they serve. Imagine the seafood supply chain. Fishers and fish farmers capture and produce
fish. Suppliers and/or distributors buy this fish and sell it to restaurants and markets, which in turn sell and serve it to
their consumers. So when consumers purchase seafood from a retailer, the middlemen in this supply chain have
already in large part determined our choices for us. My question, then, is what can these middlemen tell us about
sustainability in the seafood industry?
Working in restaurant kitchens, and with seafood distributors and wholesalers I will ask what really matters to them
when they buy seafood to sell and serve to their customers. What are their options, and how do they determine their
priorities? How do they quantify, or qualify, their criteria? I want to know if they care whether or not seafood is
sustainableif so, why, and how do they define it? Then, I will do an archival analysis of federal US and
International policy documents, as well as popular conservation efforts and scientific research focusing on sustainable
seafood to see if the rhetoric these groups use matches my results in the field.
I expect to find that industry professionals and fishers can talk about eating seafood as well as where it came from at
the same time, even in the context of sustainability. A cooks preference for fish, for instance, will depend on the cut of
the fish (fillet or a steak), how it is preserved (fresh, currently or previously frozen, smoked, pickled, salted and
dried), and its origin (cold vs. warm water, fresh vs. salt water, farmed vs. wild caught). It will also depend on the
technology they plan to cook it withwhether they will deep-fry it, pan fry it, cook it on a grill, or put it in a soup.
Many types of seafood taste better, cheaper, or only available at certain times of year due to seasonality, and will often
correspond with holidays or family traditions. Specific types of seafood fare better in certain recipes, or culinary styles
(paella vs. ceviche, for example). All of these factors contribute to the way a fish will taste on a plate. And, in any
case, restaurants and fishers alike may value price and the ability to move product over other variables.
Most policy-makers and scientists consider seafood production and consumption independently from each other. And
these conversations usually revolve around how much fish we are eating. But we dont know very much about how
seafood values shift in the marketplace. This is because current fishing research and policy focuses almost entirely on
modes of production. What I would like to find is a way to bridge communication between the seafood industry,
policy-makers, scientists through conversations about eating sustainable seafood.
For more information on the project, please visit the Microryza site here.
Note from the editor: Readers will notice that the author of this post has provided a link to a Microryza web site.
This is a crowdfunding web site for science research. It seems that at least some graduate students in anthropology
are using this as a way to fund their research. SAFN welcomes blog postings from graduate students whose work is
related to the anthropology of food and nutrition that follow this model. Such postings must, of course, follow our
other guidelines (see the Blog Contributors page for more details) for contributions to the blog.
BY FOODANTHRO | AUGUST 28, 2013 3:19 AM
New Prize: The Thomas Marchione Food-as-
a-Human-Right Award
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Post by John Brett, President, Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition
The Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition is pleased to announce an endowed award that honors the
seminal work Dr. Thomas Marchione did on behalf of the poor and undernourished in his scholarly work and through
his work as a Peace Corps volunteer, at The Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute, The Great Lakes Project on the
Economic Crisis and USAID. Made possible through generous donations of family and friends, this annual award will
be given to a student whose work continues and expands Dr. Marchiones efforts toward food justice, food security
and access, and most directly, food as a human right. Students applying for this award should demonstrate active and
productive engagement with food security and food sovereignty issues. The award can be in recognition of exemplary
work already accomplished, in progress, or for proposed research in the field of food as a human right and the social
justice aspects of food systems. It should show concern for the poor and undernourished and a willingness to take an
active role in working on behalf of food sovereignty. Ideally, it would be given to those who are trying to work, in Dr.
Marchiones words, on the best and more sustainable approaches to fulfill the right to food. Given Dr. Marchiones
legacy, preference will be given to proposals from students actively engaged in the central issues that animated his
career as a scholar-activist.
There will be one annual award of $600. The award may be for proposed or in-process research or a research prize
for completed work. The award will be presented to the awardee at the SAFN annual business meeting at the AAA
annual meeting. For more information and application materials, click here. The application deadline is October 4,
2013.
BY FOODANTHRO | AUGUST 22, 2013 8:08 PM
Did Feasting Promote Cooperation in the
Ancient Andes?
The author excavating a camelid jaw. Photo by Jordan Farfan.
post by Kasia Szremski
Vanderbilt University
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Western slopes of the Peruvian Andes. One of the areas that my research highlights is the way in which food was key
to political maneuvering that took place during this time period. The search for food was one of the driving forces
behind pre-contact Andean geo-political maneuvering, particularly during the Late Intermediate Period (1100-1472
CE). The steepness of the Andean slopes creates stacked microclimates and each of these microclimates is suited to
growing a different suite of crops. As such, Andean farmers had to maintain fields at various different elevations in
order to add variety to their diets as well as to mitigate the risk of crop failure (see Murra 2002 for a complete
explanation of this system). This movement up and down the Andean slopes in search of agricultural space led to a
great deal of interaction between different cultural groups in different regions and the outcomes of these interactions
sometimes often wide reaching impacts on regional geo-politics (c.f. Dillehay 1979; Rostworowski 1973; 1988).
My research takes place in the Huanangue Valley, which runs through an ecotone known locally as the chaupiyunga.
Research area.
The chaupiyunga serves as the cultural and ecological boundary between the coast and the highlands. My data shows
that the Huanangue Valley was the setting for intense sets of interaction between the coastal Chancay, highland
Atavillos and local chaupiyungino groups, all of whom wanted access to the very limited, but very rich, agricultural
lands which were ideal for growing highly valued crops such as maize, coca, chili peppers and fruit. In contrast to
other regions of the Andes, where coastal and highland groups tended to come into violent conflict with each other
over access to agricultural land, the different groups in the Huanangue Valley seem to coexist peacefully with each
other.
Based on preliminary excavation data, I am beginning to understand why. We know that the local chaupiyunginos
controlled the uptakes for the irrigation canals which also allowed them to indirectly control agricultural production
in the valley. As such, when the Chancay moved into chaupiyungino territory from the coast, they would have had to
find a way to convince the local people to give them access to water so that they could water their fields. As the
Huanangue Valley was relatively far away from the Chancay heartland, Chancay settlers did not have the support they
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foods such as shellfish and peanuts. During excavation, we found ample evidence of feasting at the Chancay site of
Salitre. My hypothesis is that the Chancay held feasts at Salitre and invited their local chaupiyungino neighbors to
these feasts. At these feasts chaupiyunginos were provided with shellfish, camelid meat and other delicacies as part of
a strategy of alliance building, through which the Chancay hoped to ensure their access to water. Thus, not only did
the desire for food bring the Chancay into chaupiyungino territory, forcing the two groups to face each other, but the
sharing of food helped alleviate tensions between the groups, allowing them to share water and land peacefully.
I am working to prove my hypothesis through analyzing
soil samples taken from Chancay and chaupiyungino sites in order to better understand where crops were being grown
and consumed. More information about my efforts can be found at https://www.microryza.com/projects/feasting-
interaction-and-the-middle-ground-understanding-local-geopolitics-through-agricultural-production.
References Cited
Dillehay, Tom. 1979. Pre-Hispanic Resource Sharing in the Central Andes. Science 204(6):24-31.
Murra, John. 2002. El Mundo Andino: Poblacin, Medio Ambiente, y Economa. Fondo Editorial PUCP, Lima, Per.
Rostworowski, Mara. 1973. Las Etnias de Valle del Chilln. Revista del Museo Nacional. 38:250-314.
Rostworowski, Mara. 1988. Conflicts Over Coca Fields in XVIth-Century Per. Memoirs of the Museum of
Anthropology. no 21. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Note from the editor: Readers will notice that the author of this post has provided a link to a Microryza web site.
This is a crowdfunding web site for science research. It seems that at least some graduate students in anthropology
are using this as a way to fund their research. SAFN welcomes blog postings from graduate students whose work is
related to the anthropology of food and nutrition that follow this model. Such postings must, of course, follow our
other guidelines (see the Blog Contributors page for more details) for contributions to the blog.
BY FOODANTHRO | 2:44 AM
Christine Wilson Award
Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition
2013 Christine Wilson Student Paper Award
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The Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition (SAFN) is pleased to invite students to submit papers in
competition for the 2013 Christine Wilson Awards presented to outstanding undergraduate and graduate student
research papers that examine topics within the perspectives in nutrition, food studies and anthropology.
Papers may report on research undertaken in whole or in part by the author. Co authored work is acceptable,
provided that submitting student is first author. Papers must have as their primary focus an anthropological approach
to the study of food and/or nutrition and must present original, empirical research; literature reviews are not eligible.
Papers that propose a new conceptual framework or outline novel research designs or methodological approaches are
especially welcome. Winners will be recognized and presented with an award at the 2013 AAA meeting in Chicago, IL
and receive a years membership in SAFN.
Students (undergraduate or graduate) must be currently enrolled or enrolled during in the past academic year (Fall
2012 to present). The text of papers should be no longer than 25 pages, double-spaced and follow AAA style
guidelines. For application details please the Christine Wilson Award page here.
Deadline: October 4, 2013
BY FOODANTHRO | AUGUST 11, 2013 3:17 AM
Will Work For Food?
Food and Work
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Special issue of Labor: Studies in
Working-Class History of the Americas
Susan Levine (University of Illinois at Chicago)
and Steve Striffler (University of New Orleans),
co-editors
Food studies has become an important field for research as well as for activist-oriented students and faculty. A spate
of new literature looks at foodways and identity, agricultural policy and the industrialization of the food system,
commodity chains and globalization. What is missing from this new work is a historical look at food and agriculture
as sites of work. The classic labor histories of meat-packing, restaurant work, or food boycotts, for example, have yet
to be up-dated in response to this new research.
We will be editing a special volume of Labor focusing on the history of food work broadly defined. Possible topics
include:
Cooking as domestic labor (slaves, servants, maids)
Agricultural labor in the context of globalization
The impact of fair trade on local agricultural labor
Food workers as political actors eg, the anti-GMO movement in Mexico; the role of food workers in the Civil
Rights Movement
Restaurant/food-service worker organizing
Working class diets nutrition, malnutrition, and obesity as class issues
The work and industrialization in food service corporations
Agricultural policy (eg, the Green Revolution) as labor policy
Military rations keeping soldiers healthy
Food politics boycotts, food-strikes
Home Economics gender and professional work/the de-skilling of cooks
Prospective authors should send abstract (300 words) and short CV to slevine@uic.edu andstriffler@hotmail.com by
October 1, 2013. The editors will determine whether the proposed work fits thematically in the special issue. Articles
will be due June 1, 2014. The special issue will appear as the Spring 2015 volume of Labor.
BY FOODANTHRO | MAY 20, 2013 9:27 PM
CFP: Devouring Japan
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The Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin invites paper proposals for Devouring Japan, a
2-day interdisciplinary conference on Japanese food and food cultures, to be held in Austin on February 21-22, 2014.
Building on growing academic interest in food studies, the conference seeks to explore five themes that will serve as
analytical frameworks for the proceedings: Production, Consumption, Circulation, Representation, and Identity. We
seek to include innovative research that explores Japanese foods from a variety of perspectives including: the
material culture of cuisine; histories of iconic foods, beverages or key chefs/restaurateurs; ethnographic and ritual
practices involving foods; government policy and the regulation of food; representations of food in art, literature and
film; globalization and/or transnational hybridization of foods; and how local, regional and national identities are
shaped by foods.
The conference will include keynote lectures by Ken Albala (Professor of History, University of the Pacific) and Eric
Rath (Professor of History, University of Kansas). It will culminate in a keynote roundtable discussion by Professors
Albala and Rath, together with select panelists, to reflect upon the potentials for cross-disciplinary research between
Food and Japan Studies.
In addition to presenting original research, invited scholars will be asked to actively participate in panel discussions by
acting as respondents and in the culminating roundtable session. Participants will also be asked to submit a draft
(12-15 pages) of their papers by January 25, 2014 for distribution to other conference participants. A select number
will be invited to revise their papers by August 31, 2014 for publication in an edited volume.
Thanks to the generous support of the Japan Foundation and the Northeast Asia Council of the Association of Asian
Studies, UT will cover all ground transportation, meal and hotel expenses in Austin. As befits the themes of the
conference, participants will have several opportunities to sample some of Austins best food offerings. Invited
scholars, particularly junior scholars with little access to travel support,will also have an opportunity to apply for
additional travel funding in fall 2013.
Interested scholars are asked to submit a short (max. 3 pages) CV and a paper proposal of max. 400 words to Dr.
Nancy Stalker, nancy.stalker@austin.utexas.edu, by August 15, 2013.
BY FOODANTHRO | MAY 1, 2013 4:02 AM
Zucchini as a Gateway Drug: Cultivating food
security in Iowa through gardening
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Do more with less. This mantra has become virtually universal in public health and social programming. In the face of
the obesity epidemic and rising food insecurity, food pantries are increasingly taking on the role of nutrition educator
and healthy lifestyle coach. Unfortunately, this work is expected to be done without the necessary resources. When
healthy eating messages are provided in emergency feeding settings, too much of the food distributed through these
networks is processed, shelf-stable foods with limited nutritional value. A food pantry staff explained, Its hard to ask
clients to do something and not be able to give them the right foods to do it.
One approach to creating accessible, affordable and healthy food environments is food gardening. Food gardening has
become increasingly popular among community-and faith-based organizations, workplaces, schools, and among the
general public. Food gardening can not only provide food insecure household with fresh local produce, but it can also
infuse food bank and pantry food supplies with healthier foods through produce donation.
In 2012, the Iowa Food Systems Council (IFSC) received a grant from the Wellmark
Foundation to create a social marketing campaign to encourage food gardening as a way to increase the amount of
healthy local produce in the food system accessed by food insecure Iowans. The goals of this campaign are to
encourage: 1) low-resource Iowans to engage in food gardening and 2) gardeners to donate extra produce to
emergency feeding networks (food banks and pantries) in their community. The project was designed and
implemented by the IFSCs Food Access and Health Work Group, a community of practice of 250-some partners
engaged in some aspect of household or community food security research and/or programming. The
multidisciplinary nature of community-based food security programming lent itself to an anthropological approach to
understanding target communities within political, economic, historical, cultural and environmental contexts.
Project funding provided the luxury of 12 months of initial mixed-methods research to assess how messages could be
effectively conveyed and the content of a social marketing campaign for each target audience. The assessment
investigated the multi-layered challenges related to accessing healthy food, perspectives on gardening and produce
consumption, produce donation, accessing fresh produce at food pantries, and other factors that could influence
message distribution.
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Broad partner support exists for the campaign, but financial and staffing challenges limit the expansion of
garden promotion at an organizational level.
There is low staff/client interaction time at emergency feeding locations.
Cost is the main barrier to housing, household resources, and food choice, all of which impact produce
consumption rates among food-insecure Iowans.
Low-resource Iowans lack space for yard-based gardening, and perceive gardening as a time consuming activity.
Gardeners lack awareness of produce donation activities in their community, but are very supportive of the idea.
Gardeners are have specific concerns related to produce use and liability.
An executive summary of the initial research can be accessed here.
A marketing team took the key findings identified by researchers, and created the Cultivate Iowa campaign. This
campaign was designed to be fun, positive and broad based. Rather than explicitly focusing on gardening as a way for
resource-poor people to become less food insecure, it aims to provide general messages about cost savings, ease, and
low-input gardening strategies. Implementation strategies, rather than the messages themselves, will target desired
audiences. For example, materials will be distributed at WIC clinics and food pantries, and billboards will be placed in
low-resource areas. Produce donation messages will focus on community engagement and donating any amount
available. Cultivate Iowa aims to empower both low-resource and gardener audiences; a main concern is to avoid
paternalistic or negative messages. As a key informant explained, Zucchini is a gateway drug. Once you get growers
hooked on how good donating feels, they will find other produce to share as well.
The Cultivate Iowa campaign was launched on April 19, and will continue through the 2013 growing season. It will be
promoted statewide through the Food Access and Health Work Group. Partner resources include campaign talking
points, promotional items, brochures, postcards, posters, and vegetable seeds. In addition, a public and social media
strategy will be implemented, including radio and TV, billboards, newspaper ads, Facebook and Twitter.
Beyond the marketing campaign, the initial research identified other issues
integral to the success of the campaign, such as supporting food pantries to expand their produce acceptance
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So, how can you engage with the campaign? Regardless of where you live, visit the website to learn how you can
cheaply and easily increase the fresh local foods in your diet. Pledge to donate produce in your community and find
the nearest produce donation site to you. Help to support local and state level policy that creates garden-friendly
communities, including public garden space, and tax incentives for commercial and private produce donation. More
information about the campaign can be found at www.cultivateiowa.org.
Research will continue to assess the campaigns impact on food gardening and produce donation in the state. Future
strategies may include more focused efforts to promote state and local gardening-related policy, increasing
engagement of retail partners, and more targeted messaging to specific populations such as SNAP users. (A little
known fact is that SNAP benefits can be used to purchase edible plants and seeds.) Bringing anthropology to the table
has worked to create a more effective program that situates the program objectives within the larger social structures
in which the target audiences exist. Ultimately, our goal is to continue to encourage Iowans to Plant. Grow. Share.
and to Plant. Grow. Save.
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