The $16 Taco

This week's review explores the impact of food gentrification, uncovering the inequities experienced by immigrant communities and people of color through its examination of "ethnic versus cosmopolitan foodscape perspectives"

The $16 Taco: Contested Geographies of Food, Ethnicity, and Gentrification

Joassart, Pascale. Washington, 2021
288p bibl index, 9780295749273 $99.00, 9780295749280 $30.00, 9780295749297

The $16 Taco: Contested Geographies of Food, Ethnicity, and Gentrification book title. Yellow background with black text. Black sketch of taco restaurant and line of people at bottom of cover.

Joassart (San Diego State Univ.) explores food gentrification through consideration of ethnic versus cosmopolitan foodscape perspectives as they relate to a “food apartheid” in the US (p. 63). Through a mixed-methods study that embraces an in-depth, case-study approach, the author exposes and interrogates inequities immigrant communities experience in relation to fluctuating foodscapes and the sociocultural and economic impacts of food gentrification. For instance, the author describes the food apartheid by making visible the challenging working conditions (including food insecurity) faced by food service workers who are predominantly people of color, working class or working poor, women, and immigrants as compared with the mostly white, economically privileged consumers who populate and patronize San Diego’s ethnic foodscapes. Ultimately, Joassart calls for food sovereignty as a way to disrupt the displacement of immigrants and people of color that results from gentrification, the latter being due, ironically enough, to expanding cosmopolitan foodscapes that prize “diversity.” This book could be a useful text for courses in the disciplines of geography, sociology, food studies, and ethnic studies. Instructors might consider pairing it with Amy Trauger’s We Want Land to Live (CH, Feb’18, 55-2309) as an illustration of how food activism may be realized within local neighborhoods.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students, faculty, and professionals. General readers.
Reviewer: C. L. Lalonde, Paul Smith’s College
Interdisciplinary Subjects: Food and Agriculture, Racial Justice
Social & Behavioral Sciences – Political Science – U.S. Politics
Choice Issue: Jun 2022

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