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Where You Live and What You Eat

To a large degree, your zip code, county, and continent determine your access to what, and how much, you have to eat. That’s the theme of a recent book edited by University of Arkansas sociology professor Kevin Fitzpatrick and UA graduate Don Willis.

A Place-Based Perspective of Food in Society, published in 2015 by Palgrave Macmillan, is a collection of essays dealing with the sweeping topic of food production and security, from the origins of modern agriculture and diet to the future of sustainable economies built around access to quality food. For Fitzpatrick, the book is a return to his longstanding work examining the role of place as a factor in health care, economic inequality, childhood obesity and other quality-of-life indicators.

“Resources are structurally distributed across social landscapes,” the editors wrote in the book’s introduction. “It is not by accident that low-income racial minorities living in urban areas suffer high rates of obesity, malnutrition, heart disease, and food insecurity.”

The book contains 12 essays divided into four categories: historical contexts, social and cultural contexts, the context of power and inequality, and the future of food. Contributors include sociologists, a medical anthropologist, an economist, an agriculture development expert, and history and political science experts.

Fitzpatrick previously edited the two-volume book Poverty and Health: A Crisis Among America’s Most Vulnerable; and coauthored the books Unhealthy Cities: Poverty, Race and Place in America; and Unhealthy Places: The Ecology of Risk in the Urban Landscape. He is the director of UA’s Community and Family Institute, housed in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the J. William Fulbright College of Arts & Science, and holds the Bernice Jones Endowed Chair for Community.

Willis received his MA in sociology from UA and is now a Ph.D. student and Huggins Fellow at the University of Missouri’s Department of Sociology. His work focuses on the health outcomes related to food insecurity.

About The Author

Bob Whitby writes about bioscience, geoscience, physics, space and planetary sciences, psychology and sociology. Reach him at 479-575-4737, or

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