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Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism (California Studies in Food and Culture) Paperback – November 5, 2011

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Product Details

  • Series: California Studies in Food and Culture (Book 32)
  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (November 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520266250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520266254
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Weighing In is the book that fat studies and critical geographers of fat have been waiting for.”
(Deborah McPhail, University of Manitoba Social & Cultural Geography 2013-04-17)

“Guthman usefully challenges healthism in obesity research and food movements where consumption eclipses production.”
(Lee F. Monaghan Sociology Of Health & Illness 2012-07-09)

From the Inside Flap

"A bold, compelling challenge to conventional thinking about obesity and its fixes, Weighing In is one of the most important books on food politics to hit the shelves in a long time." —Susanne Freidberg, author of Fresh: A Perishable History

"Weighing In is filled with counterintuitive surprises that should make us skeptics of all kinds of food -- whether local, fast, slow, junk or health -- but also gives us the practical tools to effectively scrutinize the stale buffet of popularly-accepted health wisdom before we digest it." —Paul Robbins, professor of Geography and Development, University of Arizona

"If you liked Michael Pollan, this should be your next read. Guthman gives us the research behind the questions we should be asking, but, falling all over ourselves in the rush to consensus, we have overlooked. A self-described Berkeley foodie, Guthman takes on the self-satisfaction of the alternative food movement and places it in rich context, drawing on research in health, economics, labor, agriculture, sociology, and politics. This marvelous, surprising book is a true game-changer in our national conversation about food and justice." —Anna Kirkland, author of Fat Rights: Dilemmas of Difference and Personhood

“This groundbreaking book calls into question the ubiquitous claim that ‘good food’ will solve the social and health dilemmas of today. Combining political economic analysis, cultural critique, and clear explanation of scientific discoveries, the author challenges our deeply held convictions about society, food, bodies, and environments.” —Becky Mansfield, editor of Privatization: Property and the Remaking of Nature-Society Relations

"Step back from that farmer's market -- Guthman shows us that good foods and good eating are not enough. By questioning the fuzzy facts on obesity, the impact of environment, and capitalism's relentless push to consume, Weighing In challenges us to think harder, and better, about what it really takes to be healthy in the modern age." —Carolyn de la Peña, author of Empty Pleasures: The Story of Artificial Sweetener from Saccharin to Splenda

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 8 customer reviews
I recommend everybody to read this book.
The whole BMI critique doesn't even seem to fit into her overall arguments and in fact muddles the issue considerably.
P. Troutman
If I can't completely understand the argument, I'm not sure I can trust what I'm reading.
Georgia Garden

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By P. Troutman on June 19, 2012
Format: Paperback

Guthman's second book is one of the most wildly uneven works of nonfiction I have read. Parts of it border on brilliant. Others are clumsily assembled and hardly convincing. The strong sections are the ones in which she applies a political economy perspective to her personal research and experience in agriculture and what she calls the `alternative-food movement' (farmers markets, CSAs, community gardens, etc.). She has consider insight into this, though it's easy to tell when she's moved beyond her own work -- e.g., not as thorough exposure to the food justice movement and a few sloppy sentences like one commenting on how Obama agreed to cut food stamps in 2014 [actually, the time that a temporary increase in benefits meant to cover the Great Recession is scheduled to end, though the current 2012 Farm Bill may very well have such cuts and be signed by him].) In these chapters, Guthman gores many a sacred cow.

Then there are the chapters that are more theoretical or are focused obesity. They're so bad that it's hard to believe that the author of this book also wrote the excellent _Agrarian Dreams_. These parts tend to be toward the beginning. The prose in these academic in the worst sense, and the arguments are not persuasive. For instance, Guthman rejects the `balanced energy model' explanation for the rise of obesity since the 1980s. That is, she does not accept that people are fatter because they are eating more. The way she handles this is odd, however. She talks at length as if she's going to disprove this, but then when she gets to it, she devotes two pages to it, relying heavily on a single USDA study about demographics of calorie consumption.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Andrew on January 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
A wide-ranging and provocative book, which ought to be read not just by scholars but by food activists, skeptics, and policy makers. It raises compelling questions--some of them as chapter titles!--that undermine conventional wisdom in ways that will challenge readers whatever their preconceptions. She manages to bring together food (and fat) studies scholarship from a variety of disparate disciplines and integrate into a sequence of readable, compelling chapters. And she ties the whole thing together with a sophisticated conceptual framework that gets us beyond the tired assumptions about individual responsibility and consumer choice. Her class analysis is especially useful, and she shows readers the larger systemic social forces the shape and constrain both our individual choices and policy decisions. This is one of the best food studies books out there right now. Highly recommended!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Tyler Dratch on January 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
This was a really excellent book that challenges the ideas we have about health, obesity, and our entire political system. This book challenged some of my deeply held convictions about the issues, but forced me to honestly think about the issues at hand. Guthman convinces the reader that people should not solely blame obese people for rising health care costs but look at the entire political process that surrounds our food. The book is a call to action to get the government to work not only to maintain our capitalistic markets, but also to protect our health and wellbeing.

A lengthier review of the book can be found on my blog "The Pursuit of Politics" here:

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Terrible. Here is my small write up that I did for chapters 3 and 4 for a class...

Weighing In, by Julie Guthman, can simply be described as disjointed, long winded, and an absolute chore to read. I liken it to reading a large stream of consciousness where a person asks questions, then answers them, and ultimately revises them to create their final product; only she forgot her final product. In the span of chapters four and five, Guthman stated that obesity is not related to the factors in which we have been pointing fingers (economic status, accessibility to food, accessibility to exercise areas) but rather to the overuse of chemicals within our everyday food. She specifically points to the use of estrogen in meat products as well as female medications as a significant issue (using the evidence that women have the greatest diversity in body sizes). While I do agree with the chemical and hormone debate, I believe that Guthman has failed to realize a significant fact. Those with lower economic status are the ones most likely to be exposed to these chemically laden foods; therefore society is pointing the finger at the correct culprit, just for the wrong reason.
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