Gobble Gobble – The Politics of Turkey

(I normally post on Saturdays, but it seemed fitting to release this ‘turkey politics’ post before Thanksgiving. I hope you like it!)

While Donald Trump’s first presidential pardon – of former Maricopa County Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio – was highly controversial, his second pardon was met with bipartisan support. On November 21, 2017, President Trump pardoned the turkey ‘Drumstick’, carrying on a tradition of pre-Thanksgiving presidential turkey pardons that began with President George H.W. Bush in 1989. (Some claim that the first turkey pardon was granted by President Harry S. Truman in 1947, and others say that President Lincoln was the first turkey pardoner, but these were ‘unofficial’ pardons and the tradition wasn’t picked up by their successors.) read more

The Politics of Farm Labor

Last time, I looked at how trade policy helped the avocado become one of the hottest fruits in the produce section. One problem with the surging demand for avocados in recent years is that they’re not exactly easy to harvest. Every single avocado has to be picked off of a tree by hand. Tree-shaking machines, like those used for harvesting almonds and cherries, don’t work for avocados because even on the same tree, avocados mature at different rates.

Another reason why mechanical picking isn’t an option has to do with basic physics – unlike almonds or cherries, avocados are fairly substantial. When a heavy fruit drops 15 to 30 feet – the height of most avocado trees – it will bruise, which is great for guacamole but not for getting avocados to the market unscathed. read more

Avocado Politics

(This is the first in what I hope will be a long series of food politics posts. I hope you enjoy it, and that you’ll let me know what you think. I’ve never tried writing what’s essentially a first draft of a book in blog form, and I’m hoping your feedback will make what I feel is a fascinating topic as interesting to you as it is to me. You can contact me directly at mike@politicsguys.com. Thanks! – Mike)

I eat avocados nearly every single day. Mostly in salads, but I make a mean avocado-chocolate-peanut butter smoothie too. Sometimes I’ll just slice one up, add hot sauce, and enjoy. It’s hard for me to believe now, but most of my life was largely avocado-free. That’s not because I was a weird, sheltered kid (well, I was definitely weird, but that’s another story) – it’s because until not all that long ago, avocados were practically an exotic fruit to most Americans, including me. read more

Introducing Mike’s Blog

If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you’re a Politics Guys listener, which means that you already know who I am and why I’m starting this blog. But for readers who aren’t Politics Guys listeners, here’s a quick intro: I’m Michael Baranowski, political scientist at Northern Kentucky University. I’m also the co-founder and co-host of The Politics Guys podcast.

I’m starting a blog largely out of frustration with academic book publishing. When I set out to write my first book (Navigating the News) I did what all academics are socialized to do – I went in search of an academic publisher. I found one, they offered me a contract, and I produced a book. read more