Unsettling Food Politics models a radically different conception of political responsibility. He achieves this by means of a brilliant, and wholly convincing, double movement. One the one hand, Mayes widens the net of our complicity in Indigenous dispossession beyond what many are likely to find comfortable – as he puts it, unforgettably, “If you eat, you are involved in settler-colonialism”. On the other, he insists that any credible response must proceed from the acknowledgement of the moral primacy of the First Peoples of this land, their claim on the soil, their food practices. Mayes’s book is, in effect, a startling demonstration of what it would mean to accept the invitation extended by the framers of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, for non-indigenous Australians to join the First Peoples at a table they have set, to discover what it might mean, finally, to become political companions (in the original sense of the word). And perhaps that is the best description of what Mayes sets out in this remarkable book: a politics of companionability. Unsettling Food Politics is an extraordinary achievement.
Nevertheless, the book will be a welcome contribution for scholars concerned with food sovereignty, alternative food movements, and the possibility of what Mayes calls a “postcolonial food politics” (p. 7). Given its deep engagement with Foucault’s conceptual repertoire, the book could also be taught in graduate level seminars on biopolitics or related themes. However it is engaged, the book is certain to do important work to unsettle the politics of contemporary food and agriculture movements in Australia and beyond.