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Cheap Meat

Flap Food Nations in the Pacific Islands

Deborah Gewertz (Author), Frederick Errington (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 224 pages
ISBN: 9780520260931
February 2010
$29.95, £24.00
Other Formats Available:
Cheap Meat follows the controversial trade in inexpensive fatty cuts of lamb or mutton, called “flaps,” from the farms of New Zealand and Australia to their primary markets in the Pacific islands of Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and Fiji. Deborah Gewertz and Frederick Errington address the evolution of the meat trade itself along with the changing practices of exchange in Papua New Guinea. They show that flaps—which are taken from the animals’ bellies and are often 50 percent fat—are not mere market transactions but evidence of the social nature of nutrition policies, illustrating and reinforcing Pacific Islanders’ presumed second-class status relative to the white populations of Australia and New Zealand.
List of Illustrations
Introduction - What's Not on Our Plates

1. Thinking about Meat
2. Making Flaps
3. Trading Meat
4. Papua New Guinea's Flaps
5. Smiles and Shrugs, Worried Eyes and Sighs
6. Pacific Island Flaps

Conclusion - One Supersize Does Not Fit All: Flap Versus Mac
Deborah Gewertz is G. Henry Whitcomb 1874 Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Amherst College. Frederick Errington is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut. Among their many books are Emerging Class in Papua New Guinea: The Telling of Difference and Yali's Question: Sugar, Culture, and History.
“Could easily become a food studies classic. . . . A compelling and informative read.”—Material World
“A valuable book for a range of academic interests including human rights, photography and journalism, and the history of South Africa and apartheid.”—Paul Lowe Times Higher Education
“A fascinating study about a distasteful topic.”—Eric K. Silverman Pacific Affairs
“An engaging narrative. . . . Will be of interest to a broad audience.”—Geoffrey C. Marks American Journal Of Human Biology
“Cheat Meat will undoubtedly provide much fuel for discussion. . . . The range and scale of the subjects covered in this book are breathtaking.”—Anthropological Forum
“Gewertz and Errington unpack the aspirations and anxieties, calculations and controversies that inhabit an inexpensive cut of fatty meat. Following the trail of sheep bellies from slaughterhouses in Australia and New Zealand to the plates of Pacific Islanders, they evenhandedly map the divergent perspectives of commercial traders, government officials, and ordinary consumers acting within a contested material and moral economy. Cheap Meat provides a startling view of how global food markets fashion the bodies and identities of people everywhere.”—Robert J. Foster, author of Coca-Globalization: Following Soft Drinks from New York to New Guinea

Cheap Meat is a compelling example of how ethnography concerned with Oceania can elucidate broader questions in anthropology and the social sciences in general. Gewertz and Errington show the complexity of globalization by focusing on the most unlikely commodity. This work at once demonstrates how unfettered capitalism is able to use global circulation to literally convert one person's trash to another's treasure and how resilient Pacific Islanders refashion Western commodities to their own ends.“—Paige West, Curator for the Pacific American Museum of Natural History

Best Culinary History Book, Gourmand World Cookbook Awards

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