Who Do We Think Of as Poor?

New York Times Sunday Review • July 9, 2017

Several years ago, during a harsh Detroit winter, I swallowed my pride and applied for food stamps. I wasn’t sure I’d qualify, but I knew three things. I had little money in the bank, little chance of quickly earning more and I needed to eat. So I tried my luck with the government. Continue reading “Who Do We Think Of as Poor?”

Semi-Rant RE: Race, Gender and the Problem with “Undercover” Reporting

via Twitter • May 2, 2017

  1. Thrilled to have been in conversation w/ @UCBerkeleyIRP @Shane_Bauer @sukisworld @ailsachang @jamesjonestv at #LoganSymposium2017. But…
  2. Also wish we dug deeper about complexities re: race/gender w/ @UCBerkeleyIRP. Tagging some thoughts with #LoganSymposium2017.

White Resentment on the Night Shift at Walmart

New York Times Sunday Review • Dec. 18, 2016

Seven years ago, I joined the night shift at a Walmart in rural Michigan. For $8.10 an hour, I spent four or five nights a week filling shelves with the flour and sugar and marshmallow fluff that residents of the local county, which in 2008 voted for Barack Obama, needed to get through the holidays. Four years ago, the county went with President Obama a second time, though by a thinner margin. But this past November, the county, like the state, turned red.

Continue reading “White Resentment on the Night Shift at Walmart”

Food Workers Scramble to Put Food on Their Tables

“The Plate,” National Geographic • Nov. 14, 2016

One in seven American workers is employed in some segment of the food chain, from apple pickers to packing-house workers, truckdrivers to supermarket clerks to fast food counter staff. And many of them increasingly struggle to put food on their own tables, according to a report released Monday from the Food Chain Workers Alliance, an advocacy group founded in 2009, and the Solidarity Research Center. What’s more, the problem is worse among women and people of color.

From Jiffy to Maseca : The Industrialization of Corn

Presented at the 2016 Southern Foodways Symposium
University of Mississipi
Oxford, MS
October 14, 2016

Mexico, where corn began, understands itself not only as a nation of corn-eaters, but as corn itself. One of that country’s best known idioms is Sin mais, no hay pais: Without corn, there is no country.

But as I look at what’s eaten in both Mexico and the U.S., I have to be honest:  We eat an awful lot of Jiffy and Maseca.

Continue reading “From Jiffy to Maseca : The Industrialization of Corn”

Eating China: Fast Food Surprises and Market Chaos

“The Plate,” National Geographic • Sept. 12, 2016

We’ve been subsisting a lot on hotel breakfast buffets, which the business joints we’ve been staying in offer routinely. (And do fairly well with, I might add. They’ve not yet resorted to the waffle-batter foil cups and cereal dispensers common in U.S. business motels.) But recently, for logistical reasons, we took an overnight train—which meant no breakfast on offer. And that meant our first stop was KFC for iced lattes—a treat the chain introduced in China just last year—and then to a popular Taiwanese fast food chain for a taste of domestic fast food. Continue reading “Eating China: Fast Food Surprises and Market Chaos”

Eating China: A Land of Many Grains

“The Plate,” National Geographic • Sept. 7, 2016

If you ask most Americans what grain Chinese people eat, I’m pretty sure they’d say rice.

Llike all countries, though China is not a dietary monolith. Diets here can still be deeply regional and seasonal, owing in part to the fact that most agriculture here is still quite small. In the south and northeast, water is relatively plentiful, encouraging crops like rice, that do well in that landscape. But in the drier central and western part of the country, rice doesn’t grow well at all. But wheat does. Continue reading “Eating China: A Land of Many Grains”