Food Justice Now! was in the works for a long time. It is a culmination of conversations, debates, experiences, and reflections that began more than fifteen years ago. While I could say that this has simply been an intellectual journey, it is much more personal than that.
As an undergraduate student at Santa Clara University, I started to develop a set of analytical tools from my sociology and political science majors to understand social justice struggles. I also began to learn what it means to be an activist, an organizer, and a social movement participant. Two campaigns at the intersection of food and human rights stood out. The first focused on organizing students to boycott Taco Bell during the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ nationwide effort to get the company to sign an agreement ensuring farmworkers a penny more for each pound of picked tomatoes. The second pushed the university administration to cancel its contract with Coca-Cola for human rights violations as part of the nationwide United Students Against Sweatshops Killer Coke campaign. These campaigns taught me that progressive victories are possible and that everyone has a role to play in fighting for economic and racial justice. I want to thank some key Santa Clara University professors for helping me to see the inseparable connection between social science and social change. Fr. Paul Fitzgerald, Shawn Ginwright, Jonathan Hunt, Timothy Lukes, Laura Nichols, John Ratliff, and Fr. Mark Ravizza all offered scholarly insights and advice for how to live with conviction in a world of injustice. I also want to acknowledge my friends in the Santa Clara Community Action Program who inspired and challenged me to fight for social change. You know who you are. During my senior year, Chuck Powers, one of my mentors in the Department of Sociology, asked if I considered getting a PhD. He then suggested that I present my thesis paper at the Pacific Sociological Association meeting the fall after graduation. Two years later, I began my graduate school training in the Department of Sociology at the University of Florida.
While in Florida, I received the sociological training needed to conduct the research that grounds this book. In the first semester of graduate school, I enrolled in an environmental justice seminar taught by Brian Mayer. It is here that I grew curious about food and therefore food justice. Brian became my adviser for both my MA, which was my foray into the food justice movement, and my PhD, which helped me deepen my knowledge of food politics and the food movement. Thank you for supporting my intellectual interests and guiding me professionally. In addition, Stephen Perz always allowed my curiosities free range, partially because we share an interdisciplinary view of social science. Thanks to you, I learned the value of hanging out with human geographers. Katrina Schwartz taught me in two environmental politics seminars about the power of the state, despite its limitations, to check the growing influence of neoliberal and postpolitical forces. Given my focus on social movements and qualitative methods, Kendal Broad served as a wonderful guide into the complexities of collective mobilization that aims to change society.
Upon joining the Department of Sociology at Colorado State University, I found remarkable colleagues committed to using their research and teaching to make the world a better place. Special thanks to Michael Carolan, Doug Murray, and Laura Raynolds for directing me to people and places that would expand my research agenda and community engagement. I also appreciate the collegiality and mentorship of Jeni Cross, Peter Hall, Lynn Hempel, Stephanie Malin, KuoRay Mao, Tara Opsal, Lori Peek, and Pete Taylor. This department helps me stay sane amid the pressures of everyday academic life. I am also deeply appreciative for my eclectic writing group at Colorado State University. Sophie Esch, Alexus McLeod, and Dustin Tucker were tireless editors for several chapters of this book and provided accountability at critical writing stages.
Working in the realm of food justice, food movements, and food politics is inspirational. I want to express my gratitude for those scholars who have embraced my work and modeled how to push critical food studies forward. Julian Agyeman, Alison Alkon, Michael K. Goodman, Robert Gottlieb, Margaret Gray, Jill Lindsey Harrison, Alfonso Morales, and Nathan McClintock have been essential to this process. I am also thankful for my colleagues in the Section on Environmental Sociology of the American Sociological Association and the Geographies of Food and Agriculture Working Group of the American Association of Geographers for being productive spaces to develop many of the ideas that made their way into this book. Shannon Bell, Danny Block, Brett Clark, Kenneth Gould, Jason Konefal, Charles Levkoe, Laura Minkoff-Zern, David Pellow, Kristin Reynolds, Antonio Roman-Alcalá, and Hannah Wittman have all provided professional support at different stages in the research project and writing of this book. In particular, Justin Sean Myers has been an amazing colleague and well of ideas. Thanks for the many conversations, critical brainstorming sessions, and writing quests.
This book would have been impossible without the consistent support and participation of all the social change makers at Planting Justice, San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project, and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770. I am forever indebted to you all for your generous participation, passion, and deep understanding of problems in the food system and in society more broadly. Thank you for also demonstrating how we might go about creating a world where there is food justice for everyone. Traveling throughout California felt discombobulating at times, but in Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Diego, I found people who made me feel at home. I am especially appreciative for Annie Lorrie Anderson-Lazo, Andrew Chahrour, Armando Espinoza, Marcelo Felipe Garzo Montalvo, Mannah Gbeh, Nam Le, Mel Lions, Joann Lo, May Nguyen, Matt O’Malley, Lisa Ordonez, Gavin Raders, Renae Santa Cruz, Ron Solano, Mindy Swanson, Jean Tong, Rigo Valdez, and Haleh Zandi.
I express my sincere gratitude to the University of Minnesota Press and my editor, Jason Weidemann, for tirelessly supporting this book. At all stages of the process, I have been in expert hands. Thanks to Ana Bichanich, Emily Hamilton, Melody Negron, Laura Westlund, and the rest of the production and marketing teams for fine-tuning my manuscript and strategizing how to reach a wide audience. Your advice and expertise have been exceptional. I am grateful, as well, to the two anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful feedback and suggestions. Obviously, any errors or omissions are my own.
In closing, my family has always been a source of sustenance. I want to honor my late grandmother, Charlotte Bratlien, for loving me through food and teaching me that all people deserve dignity and respect, as well as my late grandfather, Frank Sbicca, for your generosity of spirit and open-mindedness. Without my parents, John and Janice Sbicca, encouraging me from a young age to read everything I could get my hands on, I would not be here. Despite our differences, you also imparted the value of political participation. My wife, Jennifer Sbicca, is an endless source of support, love, and affection. I am forever grateful for your joyous presence and adventurous spirit and for bringing our newest treasure, Enzo, into the world. I love you.