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.

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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.

Focus on Hunger Awareness, Loyola University – Nov. 10, 2016

Loyola’s Chicago campus has been organizing a Hunger Awareness Week for 40 years (or so they tell me) and I’m thrilled to be talking with them this week about Hunger in America — and processing the results of the election.

Hunger in America lecture
Loyola University
Damen MPR
Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016
11:00 a.m. – 12:30 a.m.


National Farm Worker Law Conference, Keynote – Nov. 9, 2016

I’m honored to be spending the day after the election with lawyers and advocates waging a critical labor battles: Protecting farm workers.

National Farm Worker Law Conference

Indianapolis, IN
Nov. 9, 2016

Farmworkers in the News: Journalists Covering the Lives and Labor Conditions of Farmworkers

To See Food Waste in a New Way, Start With Your Plate

“The Plate,” National Geographic • Nov. 1, 2016

Researchers angling to solve America’s food waste problem are taking cues from Instagram and developing an app to measure food waste from your food pictures.

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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.

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Southern Foodways Symposium Lecture: Jiffy to Maseca

Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium • Oct. 14, 2016

Jiffy corn muffin mix is the second-most sold dry grocery item in the U.S. Maseca is used in more than two-thirds of all corn tortillas in Mexico. Yet the food world tends to sneer at them both. By tracing the origin stories of these two iconic corn mixes, I explore how America’s current romance with kitchen labor can edify longstanding inequities of race and gender—and remind us that we live, and eat, in the present.

Full text of my talk can be read here.

Special Treat: Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium Lecture, Oct. 14, 2016

University of Mississippi
Oxford, MS
Oct. 14, 2016

It’s a huge honor and delight to be giving a commissioned lecture at the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium today:

When Corn Went Pop
Corn is elemental, the backbone grain of the American diet; that omnipresence begs questions, My assignment: to channel industrial corn products, from Jiffy to Maseca.

Eating China: 4 Ways the Locavore Movement Is Taking Root Here

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

The absolute last interview I did in China convinced me: The country has a burgeoning locavore movement, complete with farm-to-table fast(ish) food and home delivery of small-farm produce.

Flint area talks: Oct. 4-5, 2016

Quick heads up for anyone in the Flint area: I’m coming to talk in your neighborhood!

Oct. 4, 2016  (Tuesday)  5:45-6:45
Grand Blanc-McFarlen Public Library

I’m especially honored to kick off the Sullenger Dialogues at U-M Flint, the nearest university to where I grew up. It’s also an honor to be part of the rich lecture tradition being established on that campus which serves many of the region’s working class students.

Critical Issues Forum, U-M Flint
October 5, 2016
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Update: Nice campus PR write up here.