Spanning the period from the First World War through the turn of the present century, Global Appetites: American Power and the Literature of Food offers an account of economic and cultural globalization as food-powered and makes a case for agribusiness as central to American literary production. The book demonstrates that the modern food system and its oppositional alternatives are central concerns for American writers, and it shows that literature, in its capacities to shuttle between the interpersonal and the geopolitical, illuminates historical relationships between local food cultures and global food systems.
Global Appetites moves from celebratory portraits of industrial agriculture in the 1910s and 1920s to satires of U.S. food surpluses during midcentury rationing to contemporary struggles against multinational agribusiness. Part One concentrates on novelist Willa Cather, poet Lorine Niedecker, and food writer M.F.K. Fisher along with visual culture about wartime farming and victory gardening. Part Two discusses the fiction and nonfiction of Ruth Ozeki, Toni Morrison, Michael Pollan, and Novella Carpenter, among others. The book concludes with a critique of slow food discourses that privilege food miles and product labeling while discounting farmworker leadership of sustainable agriculture and the unequal risks of industrialized farming. The conclusion led to a paper on the promise and limits of food localization efforts, co-authored with anthropologist David Cleveland and published in Agriculture and Human Values.