Anthony Winson is Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Guelph. He graduated with a doctorate from the University of Toronto. His primary research interests since then have been broadly related to rural society, food, agribusiness and politics, both in Canada, the United States and in the global South, particularly Latin America.
His first position after post-doctoral work in Central America was as Research Director of the Gorsebrook Research Institute, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, where he was also Instructor. Since then he has taught at Western University, and the University of Guelph. He has conducted research in Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the United States.
His first major publication was Coffee and Democracy in Modern Costa Rica (Macmillan and Between the Lines, 1989). This books brings analysis of Costa Rica’s agrarian social structure together with a conjunctural analysis of Costa Rica’s post-War political developments to understand how a liberal democratic politics emerged in a region dominated by military dictatorships.
His next major publication was The Intimate Commodity: Food and the Development of the Agro-Industrial Complex in Canada. (Garamond , 1993). This book traces the trajectory of power among the various actors in the Canadian food system – farmers, food processors and food retailers – from the early 20th Century until contemporary times. This book remains in print and is now available from the University of Toronto Press.
After several years of fieldwork funded by the Canadian Tri-council, he published, with his co-author Belinda Leach, Contingent Work, Disrupted Lives: Labour and Community in the New Rural Economy. (University of Toronto Press, 2003). This book focuses on the fate of small manufacturing dependent rural communities in the central Canadian context with the onset of the neo-liberal reorganization of the Canadian political economy in the late 1980’s. This book won the annual book prize of the Canadian Sociology Association, the John Porter Prize, in 2003.
In more recent years he has returned to his interest in the food system, but this time with a focus on the forces that shape our everyday food environments. Fieldwork in supermarkets and schools have resulted in published studies critical of the role of corporate “food” companies in colonizing food environments with a plethora of nutrient poor edible commodities that tend to be obesogenic and undermine health. He has also researched and written about alternative food movements. These various interests and concerns are brought together in his latest book, The Industrial Diet: The Degradation of Food and the Struggle for Healthy Eating (UBC Press, 2013).