March is Women’s History Month, and we at UC Press are proud to share our rich record of publishing stories of women from throughout history, between disciplines, and across borders.
Please enjoy these collections which highlight the work, research, and activism of women authors from throughout our list. From the coral shores of the Caribbean to the front lines of student protests, from medieval reliquary vaults to California’s strawberry fields and beyond, our authors showcase the vibrancy of today’s woman-authored scholarship.
The Past and Future of Tea
(forthcoming May 2020)
by Sarah Besky
“Refreshingly focused on spaces ‘in between’ plantation production and restorative consumption, Besky incisively details the expert work of blending, tasting, evaluating, and auctioning that regularizes every bag of ‘regular’ black tea to deliver a ‘nice cuppa’—producing qualities, she argues, that also reproduce India’s plantation form of monocrop agriculture.”
––Heather Paxson, author of The Life of Cheese: Crafting Food and Value in America
What is the role of quality in contemporary capitalism? How is a product as ordinary as a bag of tea judged for its quality? In her innovative study, Sarah Besky addresses these questions by going inside an Indian auction house where experts taste and appraise mass-market black tea, one of the world’s most recognized commodities. Pairing rich historical data with ethnographic research among agronomists, professional tea tasters and traders, and tea plantation workers, Besky shows how the meaning of quality has been subjected to nearly constant experimentation and debate throughout the history of the tea industry. Working across fields of political economy, science and technology studies, and sensory ethnography, Tasting Qualities argues for an approach to quality that sees it not as a final destination for economic, imperial, or post-imperial projects but as an opening for those projects.
by Julie Guthman
“A thought-provoking examination of the entangled natures of specific geographic, historic, economic, social, and material conditions that have led to the Californian strawberry industry becoming as fragile as the berry it produces.”
—Anthropology Book Forum
Strawberries are big business in California. They are the sixth-highest-grossing crop in the state, which produces 88 percent of the nation’s favorite berry. Yet the industry is often criticized for its backbreaking labor conditions and dependence on highly toxic soil fumigants used to control fungal pathogens and other soilborne pests.
In Wilted, Julie Guthman tells the story of how the strawberry industry came to rely on soil fumigants, and how that reliance reverberated throughout the rest of the fruit’s production system. The particular conditions of plants, soils, chemicals, climate, and laboring bodies that once made strawberry production so lucrative in the Golden State have now changed and become a set of related threats that jeopardize the future of the industry.
People Taking On Corporate Food and Winning
(forthcoming May 2020)
edited by Saru Jayaraman and Kathryn De Master
“Don’t despair! There is a surprising amount of good news in the struggle for better food systems, and most of it is revealed and analyzed in Bite Back.”
––Mark Bittman, Editor in Chief of Heated
The food system is broken, but there is a revolution underway to fix it. Bite Back presents an urgent call to action and a vision for disrupting corporate power in the food system, a vision shared with countless organizers and advocates worldwide. In this provocative and inspiring new book, editors Saru Jayaraman and Kathryn De Master bring together leading experts and activists who are challenging corporate power by addressing injustices in our food system, from wage inequality to environmental destruction to corporate bullying.
In paired chapters, authors present a problem arising from corporate control of the food system and then recount how an organizing campaign successfully tackled it. This unique solutions-oriented book allows readers to explore the core contemporary challenges embedded in our food system and learn how we can push back against corporate greed to benefit workers and consumers everywhere.
How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, Revised and Expanded Tenth Anniversary Edition
by Marion Nestle
“In this fascinating book we learn how powerful, intrusive, influential, and invasive big industry is and how alert we must constantly be to prevent it from influencing not only our own personal nutritional choices, but those of our government agencies. Marion Nestle has presented us with a courageous and masterful exposé.”
We all witness, in advertising and on supermarket shelves, the fierce competition for our food dollars. In this engrossing exposé, Marion Nestle goes behind the scenes to reveal how the competition really works and how it affects our health. The abundance of food in the United States–enough calories to meet the needs of every man, woman, and child twice over–has a downside. Our over-efficient food industry must do everything possible to persuade people to eat more—more food, more often, and in larger portions—no matter what it does to waistlines or well-being.
Like manufacturing cigarettes or building weapons, making food is big business. Food companies in 2000 generated nearly $900 billion in sales. They have stakeholders to please, shareholders to satisfy, and government regulations to deal with. It is nevertheless shocking to learn precisely how food companies lobby officials, co-opt experts, and expand sales by marketing to children, members of minority groups, and people in developing countries. We learn that the food industry plays politics as well as or better than other industries, not least because so much of its activity takes place outside the public view.
Editor of the 1988 Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health, Nestle is uniquely qualified to lead us through the maze of food industry interests and influences. She vividly illustrates food politics in action: watered-down government dietary advice, schools pushing soft drinks, diet supplements promoted as if they were First Amendment rights. When it comes to the mass production and consumption of food, strategic decisions are driven by economics–not science, not common sense, and certainly not health. No wonder most of us are thoroughly confused about what to eat to stay healthy.