UW News

May 8, 2015

UW Press launches new food-focused book series

News and Information

From the popularity of farmers markets to greater awareness about obesity, Americans are more interested than ever in what they eat and where it comes from.

Once simply a question of what’s for dinner, food has become a focal point for concerns about health, sustainability and the environment. Recognizing food’s increased importance in popular culture and academia, the University of Washington Press is launching a new book series called “Food, People, Planet” that aims to explore food from various social and cultural angles.

The press’s Editor in Chief, Larin McLaughlin, said the UW is fertile ground for the series — the Northwest has a history of food activism and alternative economies, she said, and there is strong interest on campus in food studies. More than a dozen departments offer food-related courses, and there is a proposal underway to create an interdisciplinary food studies minor.

The series, McLaughlin said, will focus on works that are scholarly but accessible to a broader audience.

“It will try to connect the dots between food production and consumption issues and look at food security, food sovereignty and the environmental impacts of food practices,” she said.

The series is still in the nascent stages, and McLaughlin is seeking submissions from scholars and food writers from anywhere in the world. Proposals could be on anything from, say, how Somalis living in Seattle are maintaining their food traditions to the economic impacts of the U.S. chia market on Bolivian farmers.

McLaughlin is working on the project with Lucy Jarosz, chair of the UW’s geography department, and Ann Anagnost, a UW anthropology professor. The pair, who conduct research on different aspects of food and hunger, will help solicit and edit manuscripts for possible publication.

Jarosz credited authors such as Michael Pollan (“The Omnivore’s Dilemma) and Eric Schlosser (“Fast Food Nation”) for bringing critical questions about food into the mainstream. Media coverage of the U.S. obesity crisis and heightened consumer awareness about buying choices have also helped fuel a broad interest in food, she said.

“There’s a deeper interest in knowing where your food comes from and how it was produced,” she said. “Food and agriculture touches everything from climate change to public health to building community and eating together. It’s such an important part of life.”

Submissions and questions about the series can be directed to McLaughlin at lmclaugh@uw.edu.