Tangled Routes: Women, Work, and Globalization on the Tomato Trailby Deborah Barndt
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Where does our food come from? Whose hands have planted, cultivated, picked, packed, processed, transported, scanned, sold, sliced, and cooked it? What production practices have transformed it from seed to fruit, from fresh to processed form? Who decides what is grown and how? What are the effects of those decisions on our health and the health of the planet?
Tangled Routes tackles these fascinating questions and demystifies globalization by tracing the long journey of a corporate tomato from a Mexican field to a Canadian fast-food restaurant. Through an interdisciplinary lens, Deborah Barndt examines the dynamic relationships between production and consumption, work and technology, biodiversity and cultural diversity, and health and environment. A globalization-from-above perspective is reflected in the corporate agendas of a Mexican agribusiness, the U.S.-based McDonald's chain, and Canadian-based Loblaws supermarkets. The women workers on the front line of these businesses offer a humanized globalization-from-below perspective, while yet another "globalization" is revealed through examples of resistance and local alternatives.
This revised and updated edition highlights developments since the turn of the millennium, in particular the deepening economic integration of the NAFTA countries as well as the growing questioning of NAFTA's consequences and the crafting of alternatives built on foundations of sustainability and justice.
Describes in vivid detail the intricate path of the commodified tomato from the agricultural fields of the South to the fast-food restaurants and supermarkets of the North.
The life histories of the women workers are insightful and compelling, and . . . the photographs are superb.
The author examines concepts old and new in an innovative, creative, and thoroughly engaging manner by mixing a strong writing style with a series of contextualising photographs. . . . An excellent interdisciplinary text that is equally useful inside and outside the classroom.
This is a detailed, ethnographically rich text for undergraduates. The feminist and ecological perspectives are clear and compelling. The book also fits nicely as a case study for the world capitalist system and food as commodity. This is the final work I assign in my food and culture class because it summarizes and applies so many of the course theories and concepts in a single case that students are able to use to discuss a variety of issues.
This book is an original contribution to the vast literature on globalization, providing a timely, relevant analysis as well as a set of creative and concrete strategies to challenge industrial agricultural practices. Activists and students alike will gain much from it.
The strengths of this book are its organization and clarity, its skillful interweaving of global processes and local realities, and its attention to methodology. I definitely plan to use it again in my international studies course.
Tangled Routes caught my attention when I decided that I really needed to add a more global perspective to my course. It offers the unique opportunity to follow a single product across space and time and introduces globalization from above and below. This approach allows both sides to be seen clearly, demonstrating that some of the issues do not have simple answers. The connection of women to globalization, not only through agriculture but through world production in general, is also a real plus. The photographs are wonderful, and the activist pieces at the ends of the chapters offer students some concrete examples for responding to a corporate world.
With Tangled Routes, Deborah Barndt pioneers a method for demystifying the technologies of globalization with an extraordinarily well-crafted and lively ethnography of the transnational tomato chain. Along the way, we encounter not only the women working the fields, factories, and fast-food outlets but also the variety of survival practices and resistances that constitute 'globalization from below.' These compelling stories counterpoint the spatial and social abstractions of the genetically engineered corporate tomato, its neoliberal trade regime, and its flexible workplaces. Barndt's coherent framing of a series of situational accounts models an understanding of the underside of globalization that is instructive, empowering, and richly textured.
Who could believe that the story of a tomato's northward journey could reveal the true heart of corporate globalization? Women, that's who. Women whose toil speeds the journey and whose stories leap off the page to touch our hearts and our consciousness. Deborah Barndt's Tangled Routes is a wonderful and important book.
What consumers have both an obligation and a right to know about where their food comes from and what it means.
- Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
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- 18 Years
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Meet the Author
Deborah Barndt is professor of environmental studies at York University in Toronto. A photographer and activist, she has worked with social justice movements in Canada, the United States, and Central America for over forty years.
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