Magazine article Herizons

Women Working the NAFTA Food Chain: Women, Food and Globalization

Magazine article Herizons

Women Working the NAFTA Food Chain: Women, Food and Globalization

Article excerpt

WOMEN WORKING THE NAFTA FOOD CHAIN: WOMEN, FOOD AND GLOBALIZATION

ED. DEBORAH BARNDT

SECOND STORY PRESS 259 PP.

The organic ketchup on the super market shelf was twice the price of the generic brand, but I bought it (to go on my tofu weiner, enveloped in panini). The cashier murmured something positive about organics and then she said: "We should just go back to dirt roads, to how we used to live."

Having read Women Working the NAFTA Food Chain: Women, Food and Globalization, dirt roads didn't seem far away. The collection of studies is one product of the Tomasita Project, York University Environmental Studies instructor Deborah Barndt's research of the journey of a tomato from Mexican field to Canadian fast-food restaurant. Recognizing the centrality of women in the production and consumption of food, the studies, by Mexican, American and Canadian academics, activists and popular educators explore "what it means to be both victim and agent...within a global food system, both depending on it and resisting it."

With informal snapshots of the writers, a glossary of words such as globalization, imagined community, McDonaldization, and use of narrative, the largely academic book is accessible and relevant; all royalties go to Sayula, Mexico health promoters who work for Indigenous women in the tomato fields.

After an engaging exploration of how food and the food market shape culture (compare an unpaid woman preparing the family dinner in the 1960s and a badly-paid woman robotically placing three pickles on a Big Mac today), the studies show how competition under free trade hurts women, particularly through "flexibilization". …

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