Work Journal; 3-29-10


Read first half of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Great thoughts on sustainability, local farming and eating lifestyles. Stereotypically (inaccurately I mean) hippy-dippy ideas about a back to earth movement. Some sidenote content by her husband, Steven Hopp – facts and figures on organic, GMO, commercial farming and meat industries, as well as the possibilities for this kind of lifestyle if you didn’t already have the ability to pick up and move to a rundown farm in southwest Virginia.


Internet research on SHIP and composing questions for Denise Corbett.


Finished Kingsolver.

Scanned Food, Health and Identity, a collection of essays by anthropologists and sociologists discussing – through English and North European field research – why people eat what they eat. Their analysis is along the lines of identity (or multiple subjectivities I suppose) with an eye towards class, gender, and ethnicity specifically. Reading about how anthropologists think about people eating food is a fun, if not roundabout, way of thinking myself about how people eat. One chapter in particular, “Too Hard to Swallow? The palatability of healthy eating advice” by Anne Keane was especially useful. Her discussion of the ways in which active health promotion has come to supersede simple illness prevention/treatment was provoking. Her analysis that this has led to more empowerment and community-based strategies for healthful citizens falls right in line with the SHIP program, and might be something interesting to discuss with Ms. Corbett. Health-promotion models have, however, received their fair share of criticism. It’s argued that this pays no heed to the material limitations of choice (i.e. money) and casts as unproblematic the relationship between the knowledge and the actual decision (or ability) to do healthy things… another idea to pursue in future interviews.

Scanned Working and Poor, put out by the National Poverty Center. A group of studies executed by a collection of economics and public policy scholars, the book’s overall focus is how economic and policy changes have affected low-wage workers on a national level from 1979 to 2004. It also works to show how major policy changes in this quarter-century period (most notably the welfare reforms of the mid-1990s) interacted with economic, demographic, and behavioral changes in this specific population. One incredibly simple, but useful, tidbit from this big dense text is their agreed upon measure of ‘low-income’ which they define as below 200 percent of the official poverty line. Though not specific to Williamsburg healthy food options, I can’t ever get enough contextualization, in this case poverty at the national level and over the last 25 years.

Continued to work on Corbett interview. By now I’ve put a lot of time into this preparation. The supplementary class materials we read that talk about prep hours vs. actual interview time are bearing true… Thinking about the macro level, SHIP is BIG. There are so many ideas present about the role of public education in students and students’ families’ lives, the wide range of community partners the program has, as well as the impact local, regional, and national organizations and philanthropies can have on an both individual and community level. Not to mention the micro level of Corbett’s relationship to the program and community herself.


Worked up interview questions for Lauren Chapman. Don’t know much about HACE, so a lot of the interview will be follow-up. Thinking of the other side of the interview – oral history questions – was a lot of fun. It’s an excellent opportunity to think about anything I personally care to think about – food and ideas of home are big ones – and then have a captive audience to ask how they feel about them; a captive audience in a formalized setting that encourages thoughtfulness.

Trolled D-Space. Discovered just how awesome a resource D-Space is – super easy to use and tons of material to muck through. I thought I might look at interviews conducted from related past WDP projects to get an idea of their focus and style of interview attack, as well as gleaning any useful interviewee’s perspectives on local foods. Reading peer interview transcripts was tons of fun, especially of people I vaguely know. I almost felt invasive, as if I was sitting next to the interviewer and interviewee and eavesdropping. The best part of every transcript was when an interviewer would finally hit a question at just the right moment in the interview with just the right open-endedness and focus that the interviewee could sink their teeth into. Page-long, and more, answers speaking about whatever the interviewee is passionate enough to go on about are real good reading.

Attended on-campus lecture: “Fair Trade: Niche Markets or Norm Change?” presented by Dr. April Linton (UCSD). The thesis of her talk was to evaluate Fair Trade’s potential for transforming market relationships in mainstream as well as ‘alternative’ value chains. Dr. Linton discussed her field research on the ways in which Fair Trade is benefiting producers and their communities. She also talked about how the system could be improved. Most interesting for me (and this project), she spent a good amount of time talking about what motivates Fair Trade consumers – a mix of knowledge, beliefs, intentions, and behavior… all ultimately though tied in to the premium at which FT goods are bought. The moral of the story was how – if it is possible – to get from Fair Trade (the social movement) to fair trade (a global norm).


Trolled D-Space some more. One interview in particular, conducted by Allison Corbett of Nelson Mendoza – another WDP classmate – seemed especially relevant in the headnote. The only problem was that when I tried to access the transcript there was none. When I listened to the audio file, I realized why – the interview was done in Spanish! Damn my high school language acquisition apathy…

Interviewed Lauren Chapman, student of the College enrolled in an Intro to Women’s Studies class last year. As part of the class, she and several other classmates created a cookbook/healthy eating guide specifically catering to the Hourly and Classified Employees (organization of W&M). First interview very successful and a great confidence booster for soon-to-come non-WDP member, non-peer interviews.


Took a break.


Read Allison Corbett’s transcribed peer interview from last year – I believe she’s Denise Corbett’s daughter. Final prep for my interview this Wednesday with Denise. Put together WDP pre-interview package and will drop off at her office tomorrow morning.

Scanned VA Gazette for articles. One of interest – as well as a full-page ad on the back of the A section – regarding the temporary closing of the Ukrop’s grocery store location on April 3 for a changeover to Martin’s (coincident with several other Ukrop’s changeovers in the area consequent of the buyout), to be re-opened April 12.

Found Lauren Chapman’s Community Action Project cookbook/ healthy eating and living guide through the school’s Women’s Studies website. The group did an excellent job with this project, obviously putting a lot of thought into their audience and working to make their recipes both time- and cost-conscientious. Lauren mentioned in our interview how their project was inspired by the incredibly rapid rise in Type II (adult-onset) diabetes in the U.S. in the last decade. So this guide worked to address more than just dining options. It also offered facts on fast food, a list of top healthy foods and ingredient substitutions, information about dieting, stretching exercises, and testimonials of those living with diabetes. The guide also contained advice on how to shop on a budget as well as a cost comparison chart and basic info about local grocery stores. I printed a copy of this awesome project for my archive.

Watched first episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. This British chef/TV. personality goes to Huntington, WVa to try and revamp the town’s health consciousness through its school lunch program. This ABC high-definition show seems more intent on the visual aspects of the problem and raising people’s awareness to the trouble of their eating lifestyles through gross display of what the kids are eating in school (pizza and chocolate milk for breakfast) and what families eat at home (a table full of brown food only). I wish the focus was more informational, more related to the economic realities, but maybe gross awareness is a prerequisite. The drama of the show is, interestingly enough, based around this outsider’s (English chef) relation to the small, rural town as he brings in apparently foreign ideas. The climax of the show will be whether or not he can bring the community around to his view and show them this lifestyle is possible and enjoyable. The nationally syndicated show, along with Oliver’s website, and assistance from other TV personalities like Oprah speak, once again, to a raising national consciousness about healthy eating.

2 Responses to “Work Journal; 3-29-10”

  1. 1 iaknig March 30, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Great work, Jay. I wonder if the concept of “food desert” might be of use in your research. I’ve just done a little probing around (on the net) about it, and it looks like it has some interesting origins, especially in relation to W’burg’s shift from a rural to a suburban (without a clear “urb”) place. Here’s one useful link, but there are lots of others:

  2. 2 sgglos March 31, 2010 at 11:57 am

    I just thought of some really great folks to conduct oral histories with – they run a fruit/veggie stand on Centerville Road. They grow in James City and Charles City counties (and maybe Henrico?). Really terrific people, great veggies. They could have a lot to say related to your project and would be really interesting from an oral history standpoint. I’ll email you some details.

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The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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