Global Appetites

American Power and the Literature of Food


Global Appetites explores how industrial agriculture and countercultural food movements underpin United States conceptions of global power in the century since the First World War. Allison Carruth’s study centers on what she terms the “literature of food” — a body of work that comprises literary realism, late modernism and magical realism along with culinary writing, food memoir and advertising. Through analysis of American texts ranging from Willa Cather’s novel O Pioneers! (1913) to Novella Carpenter’s non-fiction work Farm City (2009), Carruth argues that stories about how the United States cultivates, distributes and consumes food imbue it with the power to transform social and ecological systems around the world. Lively and accessible, this interdisciplinary study will appeal to scholars of American literature and culture as well as those working in the fields of food studies, food policy, agriculture history, social justice and the environmental humanities.


“...a masterful investigation of the literary imagination and the American project of globalization. [...] Carruth's book articulates and enacts a broad and crucial tenet of the environmental humanities: to suggest that change is imaginable is the first step in its implementation.”

— Catherine Keyser, Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities

“For literary scholars working in food studies, . . . Global Appetites demonstrates just how powerfully productive that lens can be when turned upon the canon 
of American literature. Required reading like O Pioneers!
 yields new insights, and less obviously canonical genres such
 as cookbooks, documentaries, and nonfiction benefit from
 exposure to serious literary criticism. What counts as literature expands; what counts as food studies grows.”

Gastronomica: The Journal of Food & Culture

Global Appetites offers a well-illustrated and 
theoretically sophisticated account of changing perceptions of scarcity 
and abundance in a globalizing food system, and its insightful conclusions bode well for the future of ecocritical food studies.”

— Daniel J. Philippon, ISLE

“In a study spanning from World War I through to the locavore movements of the early 21st century, Carruth examines the consolidation of [United States] global power and hegemony in the context of industrial agriculture and countercultural food movements.”

— Anita Mannur, American Literary History