Getting Something to Eat in Jackson nominated by the James Beard Foundation for a 2022 Book Award

We are pleased to share that Joseph C. Ewoodzie Jr.’s Getting Something to Eat in Jackson: Race, Class, and Food in the American South has been nominated by the James Beard Foundation for a 2022 Book Award in the Writing category. “We are thrilled to recognize the 2022 Media Award Nominees in their own right and celebrate each of their outstanding accomplishments and talents in their respective fields,” said Clare Reichenbach, chief executive officer, James Beard Foundation. “Each Nominee has set a standard of excellence, innovation, and creativity in their work, and the James Beard Foundation looks forward to recognizing the award winners at the Media Awards ceremony in June, the first time the ceremony will be held in Chicago, alongside the Leadership Awards and Restaurant and Chef Award ceremonies.”

Getting Something to Eat in Jackson explores the interaction of race and class in the lives of African Americans in the contemporary urban South. In his vivid portrait of African American life, Joseph Ewoodzie Jr. examines how “foodways”—food availability, choice, and consumption—vary greatly between classes of African Americans in Jackson, Mississippi, and how this reflects and shapes their very different experiences of a shared racial identity.

Ewoodzie spent more than a year following a group of socioeconomically diverse African Americans—from upper-middle-class patrons of the city’s fine-dining restaurants to men experiencing homelessness who must organize their days around the schedules of soup kitchens. Ewoodzie goes food shopping, cooks, and eats with a young mother living in poverty and a grandmother working two jobs. He works in a Black-owned BBQ restaurant, and he meets a man who decides to become a vegan for health reasons but who must drive across town to get tofu and quinoa. Ewoodzie also learns about how soul food is changing and why it is no longer a staple survival food. Throughout, he shows how food choices influence, and are influenced by, the racial and class identities of Black Jacksonians.

Author Joseph C. Ewoodzie Jr. is associate professor of sociology at Davidson College. He is the author of Break Beats in the Bronx: Rediscovering Hip-Hop’s Early Years.

The James Beard Awards, considered to be among the nation’s most prestigious honors, recognize exceptional talent in the culinary and food media industries, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive. “I am thrilled to see the list of talented nominees this year for the Media Awards,” said Tanya Holland, chef, trustee, and Awards Committee chair. “Their work has contributed to telling the diverse stories of people, cultures and traditions behind food in America and are examples of excellence in food media.” This is the first James Beard nomination for Princeton University Press.