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Ep21: Julie Guthman on Capital, Tech and Alternative Food

Episode summary

In our second conversation exploring power in the food system, we speak with Julie Guthman, professor and food geographer at UC Santa Cruz. We ask her: how is Silicon Valley trying to transform the food system, who within Silicon Valley has the most power, and how does their vision compare with the Organic food movement? We discuss the different ways 'sustainability' is understood in these two different worlds and the broader structures that define or limit their competing visions. We also chat about how Julie's views on the Alternative Food Movement have evolved over time, and how Silicon Valley might be different if venture capitalists took her "101: Intro to Food and Ag" class.

[ Transcript available ]

About Julie Guthman

Julie Guthman is a Professor of Social Sciences at the University of California Santa Cruz, where she teaches multiple courses on the politics of food and agriculture. She is the principle investigator of the UC-AFTeR project, and the author of several books including Wilted: Pathogens, Chemicals, and the Fragile Future of the Strawberry Industry (2019), Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California (2014), and Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism (2011). Her research interests include California agriculture, alternative food movements, food and agricultural technology, international political economy of food and agriculture, environmental health, political ecology, race and food, nutritional health, and critical human geography.

Background resources

Julie Guthman's selected articles

Magical disruption? Alternative protein and the promise of de-materialization (Guthman and Biltekoff, 2021)

Land access and costs may drive strawberry growers' increased use of fumigation (Guthman, 2017)

Binging and purging: Agro-food capitalism and the body as socio-ecological fix (Guthman, 2015)

Bringing good food to others: Investigating the subjects of alternative food practice (Guthman, 2008)

Back to the land: the paradox of organic food standards (Guthman, 2004)

Further reading

TABLE explainer: What is the land-sparing-sharing continuum? (Fraanje, 2018)

TABLE report: What is efficiency? And is sustainable? (Garnett, Röös and Little, 2016)

Book: Planetary Improvement (Goldstein, 2018)

Book: Encountering Poverty (Ananya Roy et al., 2016)

Book: Fighting for the future of food (Schurman and Munro, 2010)

Book: Spaces of hope (Harvey, 2000)

Monica White - the Black farmers' historian

Priscilla McCutcheon - Alternative Food Movements and Black geographies

David Harvey - Anti-capitalist chronicles

Michel Foucault - Encyclopedia of Philosophy


Related Feed podcast episodes

Phil Howard on Corporate Consolidation

Introducing season two: Power in the food system


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