On Our Shelves Now
Strawberries are big business in California. They are the sixth‑highest‑grossing crop in the state, which produces 88 percent of the nation’s favorite berry. Yet the industry is often criticized for its backbreaking labor conditions and dependence on highly toxic soil fumigants used to control fungal pathogens and other soilborne pests.
In Wilted, Julie Guthman tells the story of how the strawberry industry came to rely on soil fumigants, and how that reliance reverberated throughout the rest of the fruit’s production system. The particular conditions of plants, soils, chemicals, climate, and laboring bodies that once made strawberry production so lucrative in the Golden State have now changed and become a set of related threats that jeopardize the future of the industry.
About the Author
Julie Guthman is Professor of Social Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her previous books include Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California and Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism.
“This is a specialized but compelling topic, touching on something most consumers don’t think twice about: year-round availability of reasonably priced, high-quality, fresh strawberries in their local stores. Thorough and well researched—appropriate for agricultural and environmental science collections.”
"A thought-provoking examination of the entangled natures of specific geographic, historic, economic, social, and material conditions that have led to the Californian strawberry industry becoming as fragile as the berry it produces."
— Anthropology Book Forum
"The historical context Guthman outlines is important because she highlights the particular pesticide treadmill created with the longevity and expansion of strawberry cultivation in California."
— Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment: The Journal of Culture & Agriculture
"An engrossing book, rooted in storytelling, yet deeply analytical, challenging critical agrifood scholars and activists alike to rethink their ways of understanding agrarian change. . . . Challenges all scholars and policy makers to think more broadly and ultimately politically, if we are to shift the current bleak trajectory of strawberry production in California."
“Wilted is sure to prove a fascinating read for anyone (academic or lay audience) concerned with food and agriculture, and it provides methodological and conceptual insights to human–environment geographers more broadly. Given its accessible style and its effective presentation of complex ideas, it would be particularly valuable in an undergraduate course. Indeed, as a synthesis of Guthman’s path-breaking work in geographies of food and agriculture, Wilted is sure to serve as a resource for scholars interested in pursuing environmental research agendas that are critically grounded, historically informed, and politically relevant.”
— AAG Review of Books
"Remarkable. . . . As Guthman astutely argues, the ramifications of these findings permeate well beyond just strawberry fields and, in fact, demonstrate the fragility of industrial agricultural production in general."
— Food, Culture & Society