Food system researcher Julie Guthman wins distinguished career award

portrait of Julie Guthman
Professor Julie Guthman

Professor of sociology and community studies Julie Guthman was recently recognized with the Distinguished Career Award by the Cultural and Political Ecology speciality group of the American Association of Geographers (AAG).  

The nomination letter, signed by several dozen top scholars, stated that Guthman’s work “profoundly influenced the way we understand how capitalism has reshaped U.S. and global food systems and the conditions of possibility for their transformation.” In particular, the award credits Guthman for her groundbreaking books that have challenged popular narratives around both industrial and alternative food systems. 

Guthman’s 2004 book, Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California, critiqued the politics of organic food labeling and the sector’s land ownership structures and labor models. Her second book Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism, challenged narratives about food as both cause and cure in the obesity epidemic. And her most recent book, Wilted: Pathogens, Chemicals, and the Fragile Future of the Strawberry Industry, shed new light on the strawberry industry’s dependence on toxic soil fumigants. 

The award nomination letter said these and other publications by Guthman “have become standard reading in both critical agrarian studies and food studies,” while also having “crossover appeal to scholar activists and other non-academic readers.” Guthman has continued her insightful analyses of efforts to transform food, with her latest research  focused on  the tech industry’s ambitions to make food production more sustainable.

Guthman said she was honored to receive the Distinguished Career Award from the AAG Cultural and Political Ecology group and is grateful to all those who nominated her. 

“It felt really nice to be recognized by such a broad range of scholars whom I admire,” she said.