Twenty years ago, I (a city kid from Chicago) accidentally found myself on a banana plantation in Ecuador, head over heels in love with the politics of food, agriculture, and rural development. My research, writing, and personal life have been wrapped up in those topics ever since. I've worked on a human-sustainable cattle ranch in southern Arizona, studied race and violence in the Mexican coffee industry, written on the history and politics of U.S. alternative food movements, and had run-ins with the police over my backyard chickens. At Whitman College, I teach courses on the global food system, environmental politics, immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border, political economy, and Mexico.
My first book, Intimate Enemies: Landowners, Power, and Violence in Chiapas, grew out of sixteen months of interviews with powerful coffee planters, pistoleros, and the peasant groups that fought against them in southern Mexico.
My second book is White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf.
New Project! I am working on a new book tentatively titled, The Death and Precarious Life of Iveth Lugo: Courage and Survival on the Borders of America. The book tracks the collision of entrenched poverty, militarized policing, and gendered violence in America today through the harrowing story of one young woman growing up undocumented in a small, rural Arizona border town.
Along with academic journals in the U.S. and Mexico, my writing on has appeared in The Believer, The Chronicle of Higher Education Review, Salon, Gastronomica, and The Huffington Post. I've appeared on numerous national and regional NPR radio programs, and been interviewed for stories in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Foxnews.com, Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, and other media. Listen to extended interviews with me on 99% Invisible, Against the Grain, PRI's To the Best of Our Knowledge, or Slate's Farm to Table Podcast.
I have an MA in Latin American Studies from Stanford University and a PhD in Geography from the University of California, Berkeley. I've received grants and fellowships from the National Science Foundation and Social Science Research Council and won teaching prizes from UC Berkeley and Whitman College.