Author Archives: jjohnston72

Gastronomica – Call for Submissions: “Food in the Time of COVID” (Deadline: July 15 2020)

As a member of the Editorial Collective of Gastronomica: The Journal for Food Studies, I encourage you to think about a submission for our next issue (deadline July 15th). This issue will continue to highlight the impact of COVID-19 on local and global food systems, although we welcome other submissions. Here is the CFP:  

Call for Submissions: A pandemic is also a study in food. The ‘Dispatches’ included in our forthcoming issue 20.3 on “Food in the Time of COVID-19″ (August/September 2020) confirm the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on both local and global systems of food production, consumption, and distribution. In both the Global North and South, the pandemic threatens the livelihoods of millions who produce, grow, harvest, cook, serve, and distribute foods, from farmworkers to street vendors to restaurateurs. The pandemic introduces new inequalities and dynamics between producers and consumers. At the same time, people around the world are sharing new recipes and family favorites for comfort and solace, emphasizing how profoundly individuals, cities, nations, and global communities depend on food for their essential wellbeing—not only by acquiring, cooking and eating food, but also by talking, thinking and creating ongoing dialogues about it.

The pandemic has already set in motion a transformation in the ways we research, teach, write, and think about food. In future issues of Gastronomica, we aim to encourage collective dialogue to share ideas, research questions, methods, and pedagogical resources.  

We invite the following submissions:

Research ‘briefs’ (500-3,000 words): shorter treatments of developing projects, vital research questions, and/or the essential methodologies for the study of food and pandemics. Research briefs will be blind peer-reviewed. Each submission should include the following items as separate attachments:

  • Main submission: Formatted as Word Doc (no PDFs), 500-3,000 words, with “CD-19 Research Brief” included in the title.
  • Formatting style: Chicago Manual of Style, in-text citations (Author, date); double-spaced, notes/references cited at the end of the text; American spelling; italics (not underlining) for emphasis; no author name(s) affiliated.
  • Abstract: a brief (50 words or less) description of the work, including title and 5-6 keywords, including ‘COVID’; no author name(s) affiliated.
  • Short cover letter, featuring a brief biographical statement. Please include full contact information (address, phone, email) with this cover letter. 

Teaching ‘briefs’ (300-2,000 words): reflections on and studies of pedagogy (“remote” or otherwise) and food’s far-flung social, economic, cultural, and medical impacts in the context of pandemic(s).  (“Pedagogy” pertains to teaching practices from pre-school to universities, virtual spaces, as well as to public spaces, and includes an array of voices, from academics to tour guides to cooks to artists.) Teaching briefs should be:

  • Formatted as Word Doc (no PDFs), 300-2,000 words, with “CD-19 Teaching Brief” included in the title.
  • Formatting style: Chicago Manual of Style, in-text citations (Author, date); double-spaced, notes/references cited at the end of the text; American spelling; italics (not underlining) for emphasis; no author name(s) affiliated.
  • Accompanying photography/artwork are also welcome (authors are responsible for clearing permissions prior to publication). 

“Dispatches” (100-1000 words), shorter pieces drawn from lived experience of this pandemic (and other pandemics): portraits, creative non-fiction, telephonic/digital interviews, photographs and other images, and more.  

Regular and full-length research and Food Phenomena pieces, including, but not limited to fully realized submissions about food in the time of COVID-19As always, Gastronomica seeks to publish work that presents new and original research, advances our understanding of the pressing topics, theories, and methods in the world of food, and invites critical commentary.  

Submission Guidelines:  

Submissions from all disciplines and perspectives are welcomed. For all of our submissions, but particularly for our Food Phenomena section and for the Teaching Briefs, authors should aim their writing at a general readership, using prose that is clear, vivid, and free from jargon. Gastronomica readers are based around the globe and may not be familiar with contexts you describe.

All pieces should be submitted to our online submission platform, ScholarOne, via this link:  


Review of submissions will begin immediately. Submissions to be considered for issue 20.4 (Winter 2020) must be received no later than 15 July 2020. Later submissions can be considered for future issues.  Some submissions will also be selected for online publication as part of our Web Exclusive series*, and/or featured on Heritage Radio Network’s “Meant To Be Eaten” (MTBE) podcast (in collaboration with host Coral Lee for a regular collaborative Gastronomica/MTBE mini-series).  

(*Note that any submissions selected only for online publication will not be eligible for inclusion in scholarly publication records)

What does “authentic food” even mean?

An interesting taken on “authenticity” in by Jaya Saxena, that features a fantastic quote from Merin Oleschuk!

 “In a survey of “foodies” in Toronto, researcher Merin Oleschuk found that chefs of color are often limited by what white and Western diners expect their food to look like, and punished when they don’t live up to those expectations. “These instances are problematic because they summon people to act as ‘representatives’ of their culture,” writes Oleschuk. “Doing so supports social distancing by asking people of color to occupy positions of bounded ethnicity whereby their role is to ‘enrich’ an otherwise normatively white, Anglo-Saxon society through ‘ethnic performances’ and ‘traditions.”

Photo courtesy of Ginny on Flickr Creative Commons:

Fruit pickers in B.C. may be denied minimum wage

Large red apple on a tree against a sunny backdrop

iStock Mikola249

British Columbia is well-known for its abundant blueberries, apples and cherries. But many workers who pick these crops are paid a “piece-rate” wage that can promote an unsafe pace of work and may even be less than minimum wage.

Anelyse Weiler, one of the PhD candidates I supervise, recently penned an op-ed about the implications of the piece-rate wage with Mark Thompson (UBC Professor Emeritus) and David Fairey (Co-Chair of the BC Employment Standards Coalition). They call on the provincial government to implement the recommendations of the Fair Wages Commission and ensure that all workers receive at least minimum wage. This builds on a related op-ed Fairey and Weiler wrote for the Vancouver Sun on May Day.

Their op-ed was published in the Penticton Herald and Kelowna Courier, and was also on the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives BC blog.

Why don’t Americans eat at the kitchen table anymore?


Two pieces of toast on a white plate with poached eggs and piece of toast, resembling a sad face.

Russell Boyce / Reuters

Joe Pinsker just published an article in The Atlantic about a potential new trend: Americans seem to be spending less time eating at the kitchen table, and more on the couch or in the bedroom.

I provided some insights on why this might be the case, drawing from my research on gender inequity in foodwork with Kate Cairns, along with my research on the casualization of food culture. Shyon Baumann, co-author of Foodies, also weighs in on this curious cultural shift.

Check out the article here.

New FOOD Articles by Merin Oleschuk

Merin Oleschuk has published not one, but TWO amazing new articles on food: one in Social Problems and one in Gender & Society.  I’m so proud to be part of her dissertation research!

“’In Today’s Market, Your Food Chooses You’: News Media Constructions of Responsibility for Health through Home Cooking”

This article, published in Social Problems, explores how family meals are framed in news media discourse, particularly in regard to health. In it, Merin identifies a narrative of deterioration, or the presumption that families are replacing meals made from whole, unprocessed ingredients consumed communally around a table, with processed and pre-prepared foods eaten alone or “on the go”. In analyzing the construction of responsibility for this deterioration, Merin differentiates frames that assign responsibility for the creation of this social problem, from those that offer solutions for resolving it.  In contrast to other scholars who focus on how cooking values reproduce individualized (rather than environmental, state or industry) responsibility for health outcomes characteristic of neoliberalism, she finds a more complex allocation of blame in news media: one that recognizes a multiplicity of structural conditions constraining regular family meals (such as unhealthy food environments and the competing demands of paid work and inflated normative standards), yet assigns responsibility for resolving that social problem to individuals (i.e. parents should simply work harder to combat these pressures and cook more at home). One important exception is media reporting on low-income families, who are framed as facing exceptional structural constraint. Merin argues that these findings apply to family meals particularly but can also be extended to consider the allocation of responsibility for social problems within neoliberalism more broadly. Link:

“Gender, Cultural Schemas and Learning to Cook”

In this article, published in Gender & Society, Merin draws from qualitative interviews and cooking observations to identify and analyze the cultural schema of “cooking by our mother’s side”: i.e. the automatic, semi-conscious understanding that learning to cook happens first and foremost “at our mother’s side”. She demonstrates first, that this schema reproduces gendered inequalities over generations by reinforcing women as primary transmitters of cooking knowledge. Second, she shows that the schema presents an overly uniform picture of food learning that obscures diversity in its enactment, especially by overemphasizing the importance of childhood and masking the learning that occurs later in life. Merin argues that identifying and analyzing this schema offers opportunities to reconsider predominant approaches to food learning to challenge gendered inequalities in domestic foodwork. Link:

person flattening dough with rolling pin

Photo by on

Meat as benign, meat as risk

In a Poetics article co-authored with Tyler Bateman and Shyon Baumann, we investigate how meat is covered in public discourse. We use topic modelling to map the discourse as it appears in news media and on blogs. We find that meat is a commodity with a highly ambiguous status. On the one hand, it is connected to environmental risks, health risks, and business risks. On the other hand, meat has a benign, taken-for-granted quality that makes these risks disappear from public view. When we compare how newspapers and blogs discuss meat, we find that blogs tend to give more emphasis to meat’s risks.

selective focus photography of rooster in cage

Photo by Artem Bali on


Maintaining Meat

Why do people continue to eat meat, even when they are aware of its health consequences, the environmental externalities, and the harsh conditions in many confined animal feeding operations?

In this article in Sociological Forum, we examine a diverse sample of Canadian meat eaters and vegetarians to study justifications for eating meat. We identify 4 key cultural repertoires that people employ to make sense of their continued meat-eating: embodied masculinity, cultural preservation, consumer apathy, and consumer sovereignty.  cropped-img_1705.jpgBuilding off prior psychological findings, the identification of these cultural repertoires allows us to understand more fully how and why people maintain their meat consumption—even in the face of growing public discourse about meat’s significant health, environmental, and social risks.

Consume this! Eating for taste and eating for change

Building on the insights from our new foodies-picturearticle in Social Forces, Emily Huddart Kennedy, Shyon Baumann and I blogged this week for the ASA Section on Consumers & Consumption. We discuss some of our findings on social status and ethical food consumption, the idea of “Cultural Capital 2.0,” and a visit to a farm-to-table restaurant in Victoria.

Check it out here!