WSU selects ‘How the Other Half Eats’ as 2024–25 Common Reading book

Book cover for "How the Other Half Eats" by Priya Fielding-Singh, PhD.
"How the Other Half Eats" by Priya Fielding-Singh, PhD.

The nonfiction book, “How the Other Half Eats: The Untold Story of Food and Inequality in America,” has been selected as the 2024–25 common reading book to be used by first-year and other Washington State University students.

Thanks to support from Provost and Executive Vice President and WSU Pullman Chancellor Elizabeth Chilton, incoming first-year students at the Pullman, Vancouver, Tri-Cities, and Global campuses will receive a free book copy, as will faculty planning to use the book in their courses. Distribution plans for students and faculty will be announced this spring.

“One of the many honors of serving as provost is the opportunity to select the Common Read for all incoming students,” said Chilton. “As in past years, the Common Reading Selection Committee made three stellar nominations for my consideration. But “How the Other Half Eats” stood out to me for a number of reasons.

One of those reasons is that the book clearly illustrates how the foods people eat are tied to their culture, ethnicity, socio-economic context, and geography.

“This book explores the many ways that food — and access to food — underscores issues of social inequality in American society,” Chilton said. “The interdisciplinary nature of the scholarship will appeal to students and faculty across a broad range of majors and disciplines. And finally, it will align with programming at the WSU Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and next year’s major exhibit on ’The Art of Food.’”

“How the Other Half Eats” was published in 2021 by Little, Brown Spark, and is authored by sociologist and ethnographer Priya Fielding-Singh. She is a senior manager of research and education at the Sandberg Goldberg Bernthal Family Foundation and a nonresident fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Her work is at the intersection of family, gender, and inequality, with a focus on maternal and child health and well-being. She was formerly an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Studies at the University of Utah.

Fielding-Singh earned her Ph.D. in sociology from Stanford University and completed her postdoctoral training as a National Institutes of Health Fellow in cardiovascular disease prevention at the Stanford School of Medicine.

“How the Other Half Eats” will be the 17th book used as a WSU common reading. The current book, “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer, is the first that has been used for two years — in 2022–23 and 2023–24. It was selected in April 2022. A call for nominations for the 2025–26 book will open this spring.

The Common Reading Program is organized so that topics from each book are used to spark academic dialogue between students and faculty across courses in many disciplines and on several WSU campuses. The program arranges, and partners with others, to offer a myriad of guest expert lectures and robust programming that illuminate issues raised in the text.

Karen Weathermon, director of WSU First-Year Programs, is enthusiastic about the opportunities that “How the Other Half Eats” will offer for class and local community engagement.

“First-year students are navigating food choices, often for the first time on their own,” she said. “WSU offers a wide range of important lenses through which to view those choices and their meaning in their lives.”

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