November 17, 2021

Priya Fielding-Singh

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes PRIYA FIELDING-SINGH—Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Studies at the University of Utah—for a discussion of her book How the Other Half Eats: The Untold Story of Food and Inequality in America. She will be joined in conversation by TOMÁS R. JIMÉNEZ, professor of Sociology at Stanford University.


Inequality in America manifests in many ways, but perhaps nowhere more than in how we eat. From her years of field research, sociologist and ethnographer Priya Fielding-Singh brings us into the kitchens of dozens of families from varied educational, economic, and ethnoracial backgrounds to explore how—and why—we eat the way we do. We get to know four families intimately: the Bakers, a Black family living below the federal poverty line; the Williamses, a working-class white family just above it; the Ortegas, a middle-class Latinx family; and the Cains, an affluent white family.

Whether it's worrying about how far pantry provisions can stretch or whether there's enough time to get dinner on the table before soccer practice, all families have unique experiences that reveal their particular dietary constraints and challenges. By diving into the nuances of these families’ lives, Fielding-Singh lays bare the limits of efforts narrowly focused on improving families’ food access. Instead, she reveals how being rich or poor in America impacts something even more fundamental than the food families can afford: these experiences impact the very meaning of food itself.

Packed with lyrical storytelling and groundbreaking research, as well as Fielding-Singh’s personal experiences with food as a biracial, South Asian American woman, How the Other Half Eats illuminates exactly how inequality starts on the dinner plate. Once you’ve taken a seat at tables across America, you’ll never think about class, food, and public health the same way again.

About Author(s)

Priya Fielding-Singh is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Studies at the University of Utah, where she researches, teaches, and writes about families, health, and inequality in America. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from Stanford University and completed her postdoctoral training as a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fellow in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at the Stanford School of Medicine. She lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and daughter.

Tomás Jiménez is a Professor of Sociology and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and the Robert and Ruth Halperin University Fellow in Undergraduate Education at Stanford University. He is also Director of the Undergraduate Program on Urban Studies. His research and writing focus on immigration, assimilation, social mobility, and ethnic and racial identity. His books include States of Belonging: Immigration Policies, Attitudes, and Inclusion, The Other Side of Assimilation: How Immigrants are Changing American Life, and and Replenished Ethnicity: Mexican Americans, Immigration, and Identity.