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Food, Health, and Culture in Latino Los Angeles By Sarah Portnoy

Food, Health, and Culture in Latino Los Angeles by Sarah Portnoy

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Food, Health, and Culture in Latino Los Angeles explores the history of Latino cuisine in Los Angeles and the contemporary Latino food scene, one that sharply contrasts with urban Latino neighborhoods where access to affordable, healthy food is a struggle. The study offers solutions such as expanding urban agriculture and legalizing street vendors.

Food, Health, and Culture in Latino Los Angeles Summary

Food, Health, and Culture in Latino Los Angeles by Sarah Portnoy

Contemporary Los Angeles can increasingly be considered a part of Latin America. Only 200 miles from the border with Mexico, it has the largest, most diverse population of Latinos in the United States-and reportedly the second largest population of Mexicans outside of Mexico City. It also has one of the most diverse representations of Latino gastronomy in the United States, featuring the cuisine of nearly every region of Mexico, countries such as Peru, Argentina, Guatemala and El Salvador, as well as an incredible variety of Asian-Latin fusion cuisine. Despite the expansion of Latino cuisine's popularity in Los Angeles and the celebrity of many Latino chefs, there is a stark divide between what is available at restaurants and food trucks and what is available to many low-income, urban Latinos who live in food deserts. In these areas, access to healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate foods is a daily challenge. Food-related diseases, particularly diabetes and obesity, plague these communities. In the face of this crisis, grassroots organizations, policy-makers and local residents are working to improve access and affordability through a growing embrace of traditional cuisine, an emergent interest in the farm-to-table movement, and the work of local organizations. Angelinos are creating alternatives to the industrial food system that offer hope for Latino food culture and health in Los Angeles and beyond. This book provides an overview of contemporary L.A.'s Latino food culture, introducing some of the most important chefs in the Latino food scene, and discussing the history and impact of Latino street food on culinary variety in Los Angeles. Along with food culture, the book also discusses alternative sources of healthy food for low-income communities: farmers markets, community and school gardens, urban farms, and new neighborhood markets that work to address the inequalities in access and affordability for Latino residents. By making the connection between Latino food culture and the Latino communities' food related health issues, this study approaches the issue from a unique perspective.

Food, Health, and Culture in Latino Los Angeles Reviews

From the wonderful food diversity of Mexican Los Angeles; to the bitter street food battles over the tamale wagons and the loncheros; and into the food swamps of low income Latino neighborhoods where fast food and food marts (better known as liquor stores) prevail, Sarah Portnoy effectively takes us into the world of the Latino food environment. She allows us to experience the tastes of Oaxacan and Yucatan specialties. She documents the struggles to create an alternative food justice approach in the gardens and urban farms of South LA and Boyle Heights. She has us get to know the Alta California cuisine created by young Mexican-American chefs. And she helps us understand that food justice and food sovereignty have their own deep roots in the Latino connection to food - and to social justice. -- Robert Gottlieb, author of Global Cities: Urban Environments in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and China
A knowledgeable and humane portrait of the rich culinary cultures as well as the ongoing struggles for food justice and dietary health in Latino Los Angeles. -- Jeffrey M. Pilcher, author of Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food
Portnoy gives us a beautifully written and nuanced account of food, health, and culture in Latina/o Los Angeles. She captures the wealth of Mexicana/o and Latina/o food knowledge and traditions as well as the creative ways communities are challenging the inequality that leads to food deserts in working-class communities. -- Enrique C. Ochoa, author of Feeding Mexico and co-editor of Latino Los Angeles

About Sarah Portnoy

Sarah Portnoy is an Assistant Professor of Teaching in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Southern California. She has been researching, teaching and publishing about Latino cuisine, culinary culture, and food policy for the past several years. She published a chapter in Global Latin America co-authored with food historian Jeffrey Pilcher, an entry on authenticity in food in The Encyclopedia of Food Issues, and an entry on Latino Cuisine in the Oxford Bibliographies in Latino Studies. You can visit her website at

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Food, Health, and Culture in Latino Los Angeles by Sarah Portnoy
Rowman & Littlefield
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