Staple Security

Duke University Press, 2022. Read the introduction here. Download a teaching guide here.

Egyptians often say that bread is life; most eat this staple multiple times a day, many relying on the cheap bread subsidized by the government. In my forthcoming book, Staple Security, I explore the process of sourcing domestic and foreign wheat for the production of bread and its consumption across urban and rural settings. I trace the anxiety that pervades Egyptian society surrounding the possibility that the nation could run out of wheat or that people might not have enough good bread to eat, and the daily efforts to ensure that this does not happen. With rich ethnographic detail, I take readers into the worlds of cultivating wheat, trading grain, and baking, buying, and eating bread. Linking global flows of grain and a national bread subsidy program with everyday household practices, I theorize the nexus between food and security, drawing attention to staples and the lengths to which people go to secure their consistent availability and quality. Work on this project was funded by fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation.