Natalie is a Ph.D student in the Chicana/o Studies department at UCLA. She explores the relationship between identity, race, and ethnicity through a food studies lens. Natalie is particularly interested in analyzing the role of food spaces and pathways in developing conceptions of identity, race and ethnicity in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California. Her areas of study include history, race, ethnicity, and food studies. Natalie uses an array of methodology, including qualitative interviewing, cognitive mapping, surveys and census data to narrate rich cultural histories in the San Gabriel Valley. She hopes to continue her work in the San Gabriel Valley to further expand the research of this geographical, culturally rich suburb of Los Angeles.
Natalie’s project, Mapping Foodways in the San Gabriel Valley, focuses on a historiography of food in the San Gabriel Valley. What significant contributions have Mexican American farmers made in establishing foodways in the San Gabriel Valley? Focusing on erased, whitewashed narratives of a Mexican American farmer of the early 1900s, Cruz Baca, she seeks to trace his impact to the development of Baldwin Park, a city in the SGV. Baca’s untold story as the sole producer of dried chiles and cornhusks of all the San Gabriel Valley sheds light on the impact of local food sources and points to the constant erasure of people of color from local historical narratives in Southern California. By mapping foodways, customer networks, and product distribution, she hopes to recognize significant contributions of Mexican American farmers in this particular area that have often been erased and omitted.