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California Cuisine and Just Food

California Cuisine and Just Food

Sally K. Fairfax
Louise Nelson Dyble
Greig Tor Guthey
Lauren Gwin
Monica Moore
Jennifer Sokolove
Matthew Gerhart
Jennifer Kao
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    California Cuisine and Just Food
    Book Description:

    Can a celebrity chef find common ground with an urban community organizer? Can a maker of organic cheese and a farm worker share an agenda for improving America's food? In the San Francisco Bay area, unexpected alliances signal the widening concerns of diverse alternative food proponents. What began as niche preoccupations with parks, the environment, food aesthetics, and taste has become a broader and more integrated effort to achieve food democracy: agricultural sustainability, access for all to good food, fairness for workers and producers, and public health. This book maps that evolution in northern California. The authors show that progress toward food democracy in the Bay area has been significant: innovators have built on familiar yet quite radical understandings of regional cuisine to generate new, broadly shared expectations about food quality, and activists have targeted the problems that the conventional food system creates. But, they caution despite the Bay Area's favorable climate, progressive politics, and food culture many challenges remain.The hardcover edition does not include a dust jacket.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-30585-3
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Series Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Robert Gottlieb

    I am pleased to present the ninth book in the Food, Health, and the Environment series. This series explores the global and local dimensions of food systems and examines issues of access, justice, and environmental and community well-being. It includes books that focus on the way food is grown, processed, manufactured, distributed, sold, and consumed. Among the matters addressed are what foods are available to communities and individuals, how those foods are obtained, and what health and environmental factors are embedded in food system choices and outcomes. The series focuses not only on food security and well-being but also on...

  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Marion Nestle and Paulette Goddard

    California Cuisine and Just Foodtakes a deep and comprehensive look at past and new efforts to bring tastier, healthier, locally grown, and ethically produced food to San Francisco Bay Area eaters, poor and rich. The story is inspiring. The authors of this collectively written account, cautious academics as they must be, describe the development of the Bay Area food scene as a “district” rather than as a social movement. But I have no such compunctions. It looks like a social movement to me. This book is about how the Bay Area food movement evolved to what it is today:...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. 1 Celebrating a Community?
    (pp. 1-10)

    The sun shines through second-story windows at the Ferry Building, illuminating San Francisco’s historic transit hub, now transformed into the kind of foodie paradise many people associate with the San Francisco Bay Area (figure 1.1).¹ It is October 2007, and a twenty-fifth anniversary celebration for the nonprofit Pesticide Action Network (PAN), the North American branch of a global federation of sustainable agriculture advocates, is about to begin. Cowgirl Creamery, purveyors of extraordinarily fine cheese, and the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, the nonprofit manager of the sumptuous Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, held here several times a week, have...

  7. I Making a Place for Just Food

    • [I Introduction]
      (pp. 11-12)

      Our analysis of the possibilities for a just and sustainable food system focuses on the San Francisco Bay Area over a relatively long period of time. The Bay Area is geographically small, but it has an outsized reputation on issues of food. While it is frequently chided for its precious food obsessions, those preoccupations have never been the most interesting or important part of its story. The discussion in part II devotes considerable attention to exploring what wedosee as noteworthy—the region’s shifting priorities and expectations about what constitutes good food. The conversation that we describe in the...

    • 2 Framing Alternative Food
      (pp. 13-34)

      Both the evolution of the alternative food district and our analysis of it occur in close relationship to a broader discussion that has been taking place, more or less simultaneously, across the nation. Because both the exchange of ideas and the process of continuing dialogue are important to our district, this chapter putsCalifornia Cuisine and Just Foodinto the context of what is frequently called “the food literature.” That literature did not exist until the 1970s. Prior to that point, most of what we now think of as food and food systems was typically thought about and labeled as...

    • 3 California Agriculture and Conventional Food
      (pp. 35-68)

      Why alternative food? Alternative to what? This chapter describes the conventional side of the food system. The basic story is broadly familiar, and we do not reiterate the abundant literature.¹ Instead we focus on background relevant to our arguments about alternative food. Because we definealternativeas sustainable, healthy, and just, we need to suggest how conventional food, that is, the food most people eat every day, became unsustainable, unjust, and unhealthy. Because justice has been central in the district over the past decade and is likely to remain so, we emphasize connections between the evolving conventional food system and...

    • 4 The Discontents
      (pp. 69-88)

      For more than half a century before what we describe as an alternative food district began to take shape, people were challenging—in very different ways and venues—the conventional food system as it emerged. Here we address four strands of criticism in roughly chronological order. The first was raised by what we would now call sustainability advocates, although the term was not widely used until the 1980s. An 1890s dust-up in the field of soil science marginalized those interested in soil fertility and inscribed the discussion of sustainable agriculture as less than scientific. Opposition to the reckless, almost random,...

  8. II Waves of Innovation in the Bay Area Alternative Food Community

    • [II Introduction]
      (pp. 89-90)

      If we are correct in asserting that an alternative food district is operating in the Bay Area, we should be able to locate activists, entrepreneurs, consumers, and producers who are developing new relationships, institutions, and innovations that have resulted in higher expectations for food quality. Part II explores that hypothesis. In the next four chapters, we discuss innovations that raise the bar regarding the requirements for environmental sustainability, healthy food, and justice in district food.

      Our narrative shows that important steps to protect the land required for the food district began early in the twentieth century. The common enterprise that...

    • 5 A Civic Culture of Parks, Planning, and Land Protection
      (pp. 91-106)

      Although many innovative industrial regions do not require a land base, a food district probably does. The Bay Area’s experience in land protection, dating back more than a hundred years, anchors the district both symbolically and more concretely in possibilities for creative food production and processing. Our food story therefore begins in the coastal pastures of Marin County across the Golden Gate Bridge to the north of San Francisco. Long before there was an area designated as the “Bay Area,” there was “Marvelous Marin.”¹ At statehood in 1850, both San Francisco and Sonoma counties argued for control over the little...

    • 6 Radical Regional Cuisine
      (pp. 107-134)

      Solving the distribution problems for fresh, local, sustainably grown produce created the face-to-face interactions that comprise the foundation of the Bay Area’s alternative food district. Innovations at the junction of two fairly distinct Bay Area food cultures gave the early district both momentum and a recognizable name:California cuisine.Preoccupation with food defines the first critical culture, and it began in the ethnic diversity of the Gold Rush. No matter how enamored they have become of Big Macs and soda, Americans have never totally ignored the tastes and pleasures of food, and particularly its importance in families and communities. Those...

    • 7 Maturing the District
      (pp. 135-174)

      In the Bay Area, the conversation about what it meant to produce and eat good food did not remain narrow for long. It rapidly became contentious and complex. New sectors—dairy and beef—joined the alternative enterprise, and new buyers, particularly schools and hospitals, emerged. As these businesses and related institutions thickened the district, others expanded and began operating in multiple locations. Through this process, many of the distinctions between urban and rural values and priorities eroded. Alternative processors—artisanal cheesemakers and cheesemongers among them—worked specifically to build and knit together the district. Producers increasingly started identifying themselves collectively...

    • 8 Food Democracy and Innovation
      (pp. 175-222)

      Given the district’s history of radical food politics and food-based political organizing, justice issues were surprisingly unformed and inconsistently pursued during the 1990s. That began to change early in the new century. Expressed geographically, one could say that the center of district innovation has moved from the Gourmet Ghetto to Oakland as diverse new voices and activists have asserted their own prerequisites for the U.S. food system. They are defining a new and more comprehensive justice agenda for the district that is reshaping regional practice, investment, and food discourse. The new voices are generally young, and they come largely from...

    • 9 Conclusion: The District and the Future of Alternative Food
      (pp. 223-234)

      An alternative food district continues to evolve in the Bay Area—expanding, thickening, and incorporating new institutions and new understandings of food and food quality. Although it is anchored, both symbolically and concretely, in a regional base of protected land, the district is not just a particular geography. The land opened possibilities for innovative food production and processing in a place that has a long tradition of intense attention to the creation and enjoyment of diverse foods. Those interests and possibilities intersected over many decades of personal and market relationships and shared histories, weaving a community and a common enterprise....

  9. Notes
    (pp. 235-280)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 281-338)
  11. Index
    (pp. 339-354)