A Cornucopia of Book Reviews!

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Looking for holiday gift ideas or just a good read to relax with over the long weekend? We’ve provided you with three insightful book reviews to sink your teeth into.

80140100838090LSaru Jayaraman. Behind the Kitchen Door. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press/ILR Press, 2013. 208 pp. ISBN 978-0-8014-7951-9. $15.95 (Paperback).

Read the review by Janice Fine of Rutgers University, published in the October 2014 issue of ILR Review:

Behind the Kitchen Door is a powerful exposé of the labor practices of the contemporary restaurant industry intended to make the case that the treatment of workers is at least as instrumental to theILR_72ppiRGB_powerpoint goals of the burgeoning sustainable food movement as free-range chickens, grass-fed cows, or organic, locally sourced, non-GMO produce. Written by Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY), which is the organization that emerged in the aftermath of the tragic deaths of 73 workers at the iconic Windows on the World restaurant on 9/11, the book is a trove of information about industry structure and employment practices.

9781780323091Órla Ryan. Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa. London and New York: Zed Books, 2011. 182 pp. ISBN 978-184813-005-0. $14.95 (Paperback).

Franklin Obeng-Odoom of the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia published his review in Review of Radical Radical Political Economics.

This book is interesting, but strange. It is hard to dismiss, but difficult to call a masterpiece. The RRPE_v46_72ppiRGB_powerpointbook talks about two countries without being comparative, but in a way that helps comparative studies and thinking. This is a book about the raw material that is used to produce the chocolate you have been eating, about the fair trade you have been supporting, and about how the output of smallholder farmers acts as steroids for the economies of entire nations.

9781442208742_p0_v2_s260x420Wallach, Jennifer Jensen. How America Eats: A Social History of U.S. Food and Culture. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 2013. 240 pp. ISBN-13: 978-1442232188. $24.95 (paperback list).

13122087Bobrow-Strain, Aaron. White Bread: A Social History of the Store-bought Loaf. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2012. 257 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0807044780. $17.00 (paperback list).

Kim K. McKeage of Hamline University wrote a review of both of these books, which appeared in the Journal of Macromarketing.

From the titles, we get a hint that How America Eats: A Social History of U.S. Food and Culture and JMMK_new C1 template.inddWhite Bread: A Social History of the Store-bought Loaf occupy opposite ends of a spectrum. Both are social histories, and both are concerned with food, but one is a wide-ranging history of all things food related, while the other focuses on one item – commercial white bread. How America Eats is a rather impersonal account, while White Bread is embedded in the author’s own experiences and ethos. The differences in perspective, though, provide what turn out to be remarkably similar insights into American food history.

Happy reading!

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