The $16 Taco
Contested Geographies of Food, Ethnicity, and Gentrification
- PUBLISHED: October 2021
- SUBJECT LISTING: Geography, Food, Latinx Studies
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 288 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 7 b&w illus., 10 maps, 2 tables
- ISBN: 9780295749280
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
Having “discovered” the flavors of barbacoa, bibimbap, bánh mi, sambusas, and pupusas, white middle-class eaters are increasingly venturing into historically segregated neighborhoods in search of “authentic” eateries run by—and for—immigrants and people of color. Fueled by media attention and capitalized on by developers, this interest in "ethnic" food and places contributes to gentrification, and the very people who produced these vibrant foodscapes are increasingly excluded from them.
Drawing on extensive fieldwork, geographer Pascale Joassart-Marcelli traces the transformation of three urban San Diego neighborhoods whose foodscapes are shifting from serving the needs of longtime minoritized residents who face limited food access to pleasing the tastes of wealthier and whiter newcomers. The $16 Taco illustrates how food can both emplace and displace immigrants, shedding light on the larger process of gentrification and the emotional, cultural, economic, and physical displacement it produces. It also highlights the contested food geographies of immigrants and people of color by documenting their contributions to the cultural food economy and everyday struggles to reclaim ethnic foodscapes and lead flourishing and hunger-free lives. Joassart-Marcelli offers valuable lessons for cities where food-related development projects transform neighborhoods at the expense of the communities they claim to celebrate.
Authors & Contributors
Pascale Joassart-Marcelli is professor of geography at San Diego State University and coeditor of Food and Place: A Critical Exploration.
Joassart-Marcelli explores high-level theories about race, ethnicity, economics, systemic racism, and other factors that shape the food system, and then situates those theories within the city of San Diego... And part of the power of this book comes from the reality that every city is home to the same kinds of stories that Joassart-Marcelli uncovered in San Diego.- Civil Eats
The book offers a contextualized and complex account of the making and remaking of urban spaces through food, and avoids romanticizing or dismissing the everyday practices of local residents.- The AAG Review of Books
Jossart-Marcelli’s work makes a useful contribution to the literature on urban evolution and the processes—demographic, political, and financial—that perpetuate cycles of neighborhood ascension, decline, and gentrification... As the geography and culture of urban foodscapes continue to grow and change, Jossart-Marcelli has given readers plenty to chew on.- The Journal of Urban Affairs
The $16 Taco reflects the best of food-related research and writing today, as it links the foods that sustain each of us with social and cultural practices that shape the material spaces we inhabit.- California History
A stimulating book on how food, ethnicity, and place are co-produced in gentrifying neighborhoods and the challenges that poses to the everyday lives of local residents.- Krishnendu Ray, author of The Ethnic Restaurateur
Offers an empirically rich account of the food injustices experienced by those who live and work in San Diego’s gentrifying neighborhoods. The fascinating material on ‘gastro-development’ will give foodies serious heartburn.- Julie Guthman, author of Wilted: Pathogens, Chemicals, and the Fragile Future of the Strawberry Industry