UC Press is home to one of the oldest and most prestigious lists in Food Studies, an interdisciplinary field that brings together scholars from diverse backgrounds to examine the role and impact of food consumption and production. Many of our authors, like Marion Nestle and Janet Poppendieck, highlight and challenge the food industry’s negative impact on health and the environment.
Today, the conversation about what constitutes “just food” has moved beyond talking solely about eating organic and local. Building on Julie Guthman’s seminal work Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California, a new generation of scholars is turning its attention to labor justice in the agricultural sector. Three new UC Press books from Sarah Besky, Margaret Gray, and Seth Holmes take on the issue of agricultural labor and all have received major society awards in recognition for their important work.
Sarah Besky’s The Darjeeling Distinction: Labor and Justice on Fair-Trade Tea Plantations in India is the first book to explore how fair trade operates on large plantations. The global demand for fair trade and organic tea is increasing, yet workers on plantations experience justice in uneven and contradictory ways. For her rigorous ethnography, Besky will be awarded the Society for Economic Anthropology Book Prize at the annual American Anthropological Association meeting.
Margaret Gray, author of Labor and the Locavore: Building a Comprehensive Food Ethic offers a revealing look at labor practices in Hudson Valley, New York. Despite Hudson Valley’s reputation as the bucolic landscape from which much of New York City’s local food is grown, it’s a region rife with labor conflict and abuse. The author challenges us to bring labor justice into the food justice movement. Labor and the Locavore won the annual Association for the Study of Food and Society 2014 Book Prize. It was also named co-winner of the Best Book Award from Labor Project from the American Political Science Association.
In his gripping book Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States, anthropologist Seth Holmes exposes the violence experienced by migrant laborers today. Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies was honored with the Association for Humanist Sociology Book Award, the New Millennium Book Award from the Society for Medical Anthropology, and the Anthropology of Work Book Award from the Society for the Anthropology of Work, among other awards.
Congratulations Sarah Besky, Margaret Gray, and Seth Holmes!