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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Migrations of Hunger and Knowledge: Food Insecurity and California's Indigenous Farmworkers

  • Author(s): Minkoff-Zern, Laura-Anne
  • Advisor(s): Walker, Richard
  • Kosek, Jake
  • et al.
Abstract

This dissertation explores two elements of farmworker food insecurity in California, the structural conditions of food insecurity, and the use of immigrant/cross-border agricultural and culinary knowledge as coping strategies. The first component, structural and systemic causes for farmworker food insecurity, investigates how farmworker food insecurity is linked to international trade and immigration policies, as well as the historical exploitation of people of color in California's agricultural sector. Rather than simply chronicle a story of exploited laboring bodies, I expand upon on this narrative, exploring the ways that indigenous Oaxacan farmworkers, who for the most part come from a culture deeply rooted in food and agricultural practices, cope with food insecurity by utilizing their embodied agricultural and nutritional knowledge. I explore the linkages between their place in the food system as both producers and consumers, as they are simultaneously exploited for their labor, and creating coping mechanisms using their culinary and agricultural experience.

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