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Tangled Routes

Women, Work, and Globalization on the Tomato Trail, Second Edition

Deborah Barndt

Where does our food come from? Whose hands have planted, cultivated, picked, packed, processed, transported, scanned, sold, sliced, and cooked it? What production practices have transformed it from seed to fruit, from fresh to processed form? Who decides what is grown and how? What are the effects of those decisions on our health and the health of the planet?

Tangled Routes tackles these fascinating questions and demystifies globalization by tracing the long journey of a corporate tomato from a Mexican field to a Canadian fast-food restaurant. Through an interdisciplinary lens, Deborah Barndt examines the dynamic relationships between production and consumption, work and technology, biodiversity and cultural diversity, and health and environment. A globalization-from-above perspective is reflected in the corporate agendas of a Mexican agribusiness, the U.S.-based McDonald's chain, and Canadian-based Loblaws supermarkets. The women workers on the front line of these businesses offer a humanized globalization-from-below perspective, while yet another "globalization" is revealed through examples of resistance and local alternatives.

This revised and updated edition highlights developments since the turn of the millennium, in particular the deepening economic integration of the NAFTA countries as well as the growing questioning of NAFTA's consequences and the crafting of alternatives built on foundations of sustainability and justice.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 360Size: 7 1/4 x 10 1/8
978-0-7425-5556-3 • Hardback • December 2007 • $99.00 • (£65.00) - Currently out of stock. Copies will arrive soon.
978-0-7425-5557-0 • Paperback • December 2007 • $44.00 • (£29.95)
978-1-4617-1538-2 • eBook • December 2007 • $41.00 • (£27.95)
Deborah Barndt is professor of environmental studies at York University in Toronto. A photographer and activist, she has worked with social justice movements in Canada, the United States, and Central America for over forty years.
Introduction: Roots and Routes
Chapter 1: Across Space and through Time: Tomatl Meets the Corporate Tomato
Chapter 2: Frames and Filters: Theoretical and Methodological Approaches
Chapter 3: Arch Deluxe with a Smile: Women Never Stop at McDonald's
Chapter 4: You Can Count on Us: Scanning Cashiers at Loblaws Supermarkets
Chapter 5: On the Move for Food: Truckers and Transnational Migrants
Chapter 6: Picking and Packing for the North: Agricultural Workers at Empaque Santa Rosa
Chapter 7: Crossing Sectors and Borders: Weaving a Holistic Analysis
Chapter 8: Signs of Hope: Taking Action for Justice and Sustainability
Barndt provides a rare synthesis of academic scholarship with an eminently accessible presentation of a social activist. Her writing style and liberal use of photographs are unusual in an academic work, yet Barndt's scholarly credentials are strong. Highly recommended.

Tangled Routes has much to offer a feminist classroom. The flexibility of Barndt's chosen methodology allows her to focus on one product within the entire process of getting the product from the field to the table. The magnitude of the project—globalization from above and from below—also suggests that qualitative research can be a laborious and painstaking process. It is an example for students to learn how the scope of a project may inhibit an in-depth analysis of a particular feature if there are many other different and complex parts to examine. Instructors may also explore other possible themes to use in their classrooms, such as women and work, social oppression, or cultural/corporate hegemony. Barndt's thoroughness in explaining occurrences within the food system as well as the stories of individuals directly or indirectly involved with the process, discloses an array of ideologies embedded within the global food system. Unveiling these social beliefs can elicit thought-provoking classroom conversations, allowing for rich analyses of the intersections taking place along the tomato trail.
Feminist Teacher

In this extensively-researched book, Deborah Barndt shines a spotlight on the 'corporate tomato.' . . . An extensive index makes this an essential addition to the libraries of people concerned with justice.
Horizons: The Magazine of Presbyterian Women

Describes in vivid detail the intricate path of the commodified tomato from the agricultural fields of the South to the fast-food restaurants and supermarkets of the North. (Previous Edition Praise)
Canadian Woman Studies

The author examines concepts old and new in an innovative, creative, and thoroughly engaging manner by mixing a strong writing style with a series of contextualising photographs. . . . An excellent interdisciplinary text that is equally useful inside and outside the classroom. (Previous Edition Praise)
Just Labour

The life histories of the women workers are insightful and compelling, and . . . the photographs are superb. (Previous Edition Praise)
Book Review Digest

This book is an original contribution to the vast literature on globalization, providing a timely, relevant analysis as well as a set of creative and concrete strategies to challenge industrial agricultural practices. Activists and students alike will gain much from it. (Previous Edition Praise)
Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography

This is a detailed, ethnographically rich text for undergraduates. The feminist and ecological perspectives are clear and compelling. The book also fits nicely as a case study for the world capitalist system and food as commodity. This is the final work I assign in my food and culture class because it summarizes and applies so many of the course theories and concepts in a single case that students are able to use to discuss a variety of issues. (Previous Edition Praise)
Carolyn Smith-Morris, Ph.D., M.S., LPC, Associate Professor, Southern Methodist University

The strengths of this book are its organization and clarity, its skillful interweaving of global processes and local realities, and its attention to methodology. I definitely plan to use it again in my international studies course. (Previous Edition Praise)
Sita Ranchod-Nilsson, Denison University

Tangled Routes caught my attention when I decided that I really needed to add a more global perspective to my course. It offers the unique opportunity to follow a single product across space and time and introduces globalization from above and below. This approach allows both sides to be seen clearly, demonstrating that some of the issues do not have simple answers. The connection of women to globalization, not only through agriculture but through world production in general, is also a real plus. The photographs are wonderful, and the activist pieces at the ends of the chapters offer students some concrete examples for responding to a corporate world. (Previous Edition Praise)
Richard Peterson, Cornell College

With Tangled Routes, Deborah Barndt pioneers a method for demystifying the technologies of globalization with an extraordinarily well-crafted and lively ethnography of the transnational tomato chain. Along the way, we encounter not only the women working the fields, factories, and fast-food outlets but also the variety of survival practices and resistances that constitute 'globalization from below.' These compelling stories counterpoint the spatial and social abstractions of the genetically engineered corporate tomato, its neoliberal trade regime, and its flexible workplaces. Barndt's coherent framing of a series of situational accounts models an understanding of the underside of globalization that is instructive, empowering, and richly textured. (Previous Edition Praise)
Philip McMichael, Cornell University

Who could believe that the story of a tomato's northward journey could reveal the true heart of corporate globalization? Women, that's who. Women whose toil speeds the journey and whose stories leap off the page to touch our hearts and our consciousness. Deborah Barndt's Tangled Routes is a wonderful and important book. (Previous Edition Praise)
Maude Barlow, author of Blue Covenant: the Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water

What consumers have both an obligation and a right to know about where their food comes from and what it means. (Previous Edition Praise)
Peter Rosset, codirector, Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy

Offers an unusual integration of the micro and the macro dynamics of globalization

Reveals the integration of the Americas through the movement of one object through three countries

Over 100 photographs bring alive the contexts, people, and processes of globalization

The author weaves her own stories into the book's fabric, encouraging readers to do the same

New features
Updated to include developments in all of the sectors examined:
-increasing corporate concentration and the continued struggle over biotechnology
-growing public consciousness about the impact of fast food on child obesity
-the rising dominance of Wal-Mart in food retail and the burgeoning organic market
-the deepening devastation of the Mexican countryside accompanied by grassroots organizing around the loss of land, seeds, and livelihoods

• Winner, Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2009