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Caribeños at the Table: An Evening with Melissa Fuster
November 1, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Books & Books, FIU’s Cuban Research Institute, and Miami Book Fair present…
An Evening with Melissa Fuster
(University of North Carolina Press, $29.94)
Monday, November 1, 7 PM ET
Please note this is a free event! However, if you would like to make a contribution to support Books & Books’ virtual events, we are grateful for any and all donations.
Melissa Fuster thinks expansively about the multiple meanings of comida, food, from something as simple as a meal to something as complex as one’s identity. She listens intently to the voices of New York City residents with Cuban, Dominican, or Puerto Rican backgrounds, as well as to those of the nutritionists and health professionals who serve them. She argues with sensitivity that the migrants’ health depends not only on food culture but also on important structural factors that underlie their access to food, employment, and high-quality healthcare.
People in Hispanic Caribbean communities in the United States present high rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases, conditions painfully highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both eaters and dietitians may blame these diseases on the shedding of traditional diets in favor of highly processed foods. Or, conversely, they may blame these on the traditional diets of fatty meat, starchy root vegetables, and rice. Applying a much needed intersectional approach, Fuster shows that nutritionists and eaters often misrepresent, and even racialize or pathologize, a cuisine’s healthfulness or unhealthfulness if they overlook the kinds of economic and racial inequities that exist within the global migration experience.
About the Author:
Melissa Fuster is Associate Professor of Public Health Nutrition at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Dr. Fuster specializes in the cultural, structural, and environmental factors influencing food practices and the policies implemented to improve them. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, she completed her BA in Sociology and Anthropology at Florida International University and a doctoral degree in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition at Tufts University. After completing her dissertation research examining healthy eating among poor Salvadoran communities, Dr. Fuster was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship in Food Studies at New York University, where she began the research supporting Caribeños at the Table. Before joining the faculty at Tulane, she was an Assistant Professor at the City University of New York Brooklyn College. In 2019, Dr. Fuster received a career development award from the National Institutes of Health, supporting her current work, tackling healthy food access via the Latin American Restaurants in Action (LARiA) Project.