Join La Sala de Pepe y Foto Espacio for a presentation of the new book Caribeños at the Table: How Migration, Health, and Race Intersect in New York City by Melissa Fuster, PhD (Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine). This conversation will be held both in English and Spanish, and moderated by musicologist and community activist, José “Pepe” Flores. A reception and book signing will follow the presentation. Books will be available for purchase at the event.
About the Book
Melissa Fuster thinks expansively about the multiple meanings of comida, food, from something as simple as a meal to something as complex as one’s identity. She listens intently to the voices of New York City residents with Cuban, Dominican, or Puerto Rican backgrounds, as well as to those of the nutritionists and health professionals who serve them. She argues with sensitivity that the migrants’ health depends not only on food culture but also on important structural factors that underlie their access to food, employment, and high-quality healthcare.
People in Hispanic Caribbean communities in the United States present high rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases, conditions painfully highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both eaters and dietitians may blame these diseases on the shedding of traditional diets in favor of highly processed foods. Or, conversely, they may blame these on the traditional diets of fatty meat, starchy root vegetables, and rice. Applying a much needed intersectional approach, Fuster shows that nutritionists and eaters often misrepresent, and even racialize or pathologize, a cuisine’s healthfulness or unhealthfulness if they overlook the kinds of economic and racial inequities that exist within the global migration experience.
About the Author
Dr. Melissa Fuster’s research examines the cultural and structural factors influencing food practices and the policies implemented to improve them. This work applies a multidisciplinary approach to examine underlying determinants of diet-related health inequities. Her book “Caribeños at the Table: How Migration, Health, and Race Intersect in New York City” aims to change how we address diet-related disparities among ethnic communities. She shows how our prevalent emphasis on food culture as cause and solution fails to fully engages the structural factors that underlie the community’s access to food and high-quality healthcare. Building on this work, Dr. Fuster’s is currently tackling food access issues via the Latin American Restaurants in Action (LARiA) Project, supported by her National Insitutes of Health Career Development Award. Dr. Fuster completed her Ph.D. in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition at the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and a post-doctoral fellowship in food studies at New York University. Before joining the faculty at Tulane, she was an Assistant Professor at the City University of New York Brooklyn College.
Comida Studies Blog
This event is presented by:
La Sala de Pepe y Foto Espacio, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU (CLACS), Loisaida Inc., The Latinx Project, and NYU Food Studies