Reading List: The Great Plains Center’s Plant to Table Conference

The Great Plains Center’s 48th annual interdisciplinary conference, Plant to Table, is happening now until April 20. This year’s conference focuses on Indigenous food sovereignty movements; the long-standing significance of the meatpacking industry; related topics of labor, immigration, and health and safety standards; and the environmental impacts of food production and consumption.

We’ve gathered some food for thought for those conference goers, or anyone else interested in where our food comes from, in the form of this reading list.

Let’s dig in!

Cattle Country

Kathryn Cornell Dolan

In Cattle Country, Dolan examines diverse texts from Native American, African American, Mexican American, and white authors that showcase the zeitgeist of anxiety surrounding U.S. identity as cattle gradually became an industrialized food source, altering the country’s culture while exacting a high cost to humans, animals, and the land.

In Food We Trust

Courtney I. P. Thomas

With five case studies of significant food safety crises ranging from the 1959 chemical contamination of cranberries to the 2009 outbreak of salmonella in peanut butter, In Food We Trust contextualizes a changing food regulatory regime and explains how federal agencies are fundamentally limited in their power to safeguard the food supply.

A Taste of Heritage

Alma Hogan Snell

Drawing on the knowledge and wisdom of countless generations of Crow Indian women, the well-known speaker and teacher Alma Hogan Snell presents an indispensable guide to the traditional lore, culinary uses, and healing properties of native foods in A Taste of Heritage.

The Mayans Among Us

Ann L. Sittig and Martha Florinda González

The Mayans Among Us conveys the unique experiences of Central American indigenous immigrants to the Great Plains, many of whom are political refugees from repressive, war-torn countries. Ann L. Sittig, a Spanish instructor, and Martha Florinda González, a Mayan community leader living in Nebraska, have gathered the oral histories of contemporary Mayan women living in the state and working in meatpacking plants. 

Recovering Our Ancestors’ Gardens

Devon A. Mihesuah

Winner of the Gourmand International World Cookbook Award, Recovering Our Ancestors’ Gardens features an expanded array of tempting recipes of indigenous ingredients and practical advice about health, fitness, and becoming involved in the burgeoning indigenous food sovereignty movement. The acclaimed Choctaw author and scholar Devon A. Mihesuah draws on the rich indigenous heritages of this continent to offer a helpful guide to a healthier life.

Legacies of Dust

Douglas Sheflin

In Legacies of Dust Douglas Sheflin offers an innovative and provocative look at how a natural disaster can dramatically influence every facet of human life. Focusing on the period from 1929 to 1962, Sheflin presents the Dust Bowl of the 1930s in a new light by evaluating its impact on both agricultural production and the people who fueled it, demonstrating how the Dust Bowl fractured Colorado’s established system of agricultural labor. 

The Visible Hands that Feed

Ruzana Liburkina

The Visible Hands that Feed provides crucial insights into the rifts and regularities that are characteristic of today’s food systems. These insights attend to the widespread disquiet about the ethics and politics of food production and trade. While challenging utopian thinking, these findings give hope by elaborating on the promising nature of what falls between political and moral agendas.

Galloping Gourmet

Steve Friesen

Galloping Gourmet explores an unfamiliar side of a familiar character in American history, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. In this entertaining narrative Steve Friesen explores the evolving role of eating and drinking in Buffalo Bill’s life (1846–1917). Steve Friesen starts with Buffalo Bill’s culinary roots on the American Plains.

One Size Fits None

Stephanie Anderson

In One Size Fits None, Anderson follows diverse farmers across the United States to show how varied operations can give back to the earth rather than degrade it. This book will resonate with anyone concerned about the future of food in America, providing guidance for creating a better, regenerative agricultural future.

For more tantalizing food reads, check out our At Table series.

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