Saturday, May 28, 2022

The Larder: Food Studies Methods from the American South

Photo by Brandall Atkinson
Photo by Brandall Atkinson

We’re excited to announce the release of our new book, The Larder: Food Studies Methods from the American South, out this month from UGA Press. The Larder, edited by John T. Edge, Elizabeth Engelhardt, and Ted Ownby, is the first book in “Southern Foodways Alliance Studies in Culture, People, and Place,” our series in collaboration with UGA Press. All this week, we’ll be sharing snippets of The Larder with you right here on the SFA website. To purchase your own copy of The Larder, we encourage you to visit your local bookstore, such as Off Square Books in Oxford. It’s also available on Amazon.

Here is an excerpt from The Larder’s introduction, “Redrawing the Grocery: Practices and Methods for Studying Southern Food,” by co-editor Elizabeth Engelhardt.

We, the editors of The Larder, assert that the food studies discipline has matured. Our colleagues in the South have been vigorously studying the region’s foodways long enough to claim a national leadership role. Instead of fretting about the legitimacy of the field, we focus on how to grow and strengthen scholarship and methodologies. With that charge in mind, we stand ready to aid compatriots as they develop best practices.

Southern identity is now being fractured and reconceived to reflect a twenty-first-century South informed by, but not wholly defined by, nineteenth- and twentieth-century racial politics. Even as we wonder whether the South coheres, southern food traditions do not appear to be imperiled. For popular audiences, southern foodways evoke positive associations and enjoy wide popularity. For academic audiences focused on examining and criticizing dietary habits and patterns of exclusion, southern food studies offer approaches to race, class, gender, and ethnicity.

The Larder argues that food studies does not simply help us understand more about the foods we eat and the foodways we embrace. Merit lies also in the methods and strategies developed that use food and foodways as lenses to examine culture. The resulting conversations provoke a deeper understanding of our overlapping, historically situated, and ever-evolving cultures and societies.

— Sara Camp Arnold, Southern Foodways Alliance 

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