Former Editor-in-Chief Brad Jones reflects on the Graduate Journal of Food Studies to mark its 5th year anniversary.
Five years, how time flies. It seems like only yesterday that a few overzealous masters students decided it would be a good idea to found an open access journal devoted to the critical study of food. We thought then that a promising way to continue to catalyze the emerging interdiscipline of food studies would be to provide a fertile space for young scholars to develop and share their work, along the way cultivating research, writing, and editing skills and growing a scholarly community. As it turns out, the times were ripe indeed.
A half-decade on, what was once a seed of an idea has flourished far beyond what any of us could have imagined. Who would have guessed that well over a hundred graduate students would publish impressive research and insightful reviews. Who could have predicted that the original print issues would be transformed into a stunning online platform, that the journal would sprout an international association for budding food scholars, that the association would germinate three conferences welcoming presenters from as far afield as India and Indiana, or that the conferences would then become compost for special issues of the journal. In five years, the journal and association has become the formal student publication and caucus of the leading professional society for the study of food. Many of original editors and contributors have gone on to pursue PhD’s at top-tier universities, earn prestigious post-doctoral positions, several have even become tenure-track faculty. Others have used their interdisciplinary training for projects adjacent to the academy, going on to lead marketing and product development efforts for craft food enterprises and gourmet retailers; to direct food-focused study abroad institutes and advocacy organizations; to publish books aimed at educating popular audiences. In short, to become leading experts in their diverse fields. Who would have imagined?
Whatever the journal’s myriad, modest successes may be, many are owed appreciation in abundance. For my part, I want to thank those involved in the heady days of the early twenty teens. Carla and Catie, Emily and Emma, Zach and Anastasia the journal and association could not have found more competent, capable, creative hands to shepherd them across uncharted territory. Professors Black, Counihan, Paxson, and the rest of the faculty board, we’d be but a struggling seedling without you. I thank you for your steadfast support and clear-sighted council throughout. To the many that continue to tend to these initiatives and ideas, you have my gratitude now and into the future.
Allow me to close by returning to the beginning, with an excerpt from the journal’s first editor’s letter. “As a community of food-studies scholars, we show that food and drink can be valuable lenses through which interdisciplinary questions can fruitfully explored, while at the same time being mindful that in seeing through food we don’t continue to ignore the medium itself as a mere means to other ends. The specificity of food matters. The Graduate Journal of Food Studies hopes to be a forum that furthers the study of food by giving voice to a nascent cohort of interested scholars and encouraging dialogue that transcends disciplinary boundaries.” May food studies remain a fertile field of inquiry, and (with apologies to those less enthusiastic) food and farming puns continue to flourish.
Bradley M. Jones is a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. His research explores alternative agriculture, Anthropocene landscapes, and neo-agrarianism in the United States and has been published in Environmental Humanities; Food, Culture, and Society; CuiZine: The Journal of Canadian Food Culture; among others. Brad is the founding editor of the Graduate Journal of Food Studies, a past president of the Graduate Association for Food Studies, and was the lead organizer of the “Future of Food Studies” graduate conference in 2017.