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Sarah Bowen



Department of Sociology and Anthropology

1911 Bldg 362

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Sarah Bowen is Professor of Sociology at North Carolina State University. Her research focuses on food systems, social institutions, and inequality. Dr. Bowen is the author of two books: Divided Spirits: Tequila, Mezcal, and the Politics of Production (University of California Press, 2015) and Pressure Cooker: Why Home Cooking Won’t Solve Our Problems and What We Can Do About It (Oxford University Press, 2019), as well as numerous articles. She uses mainly qualitative and community-based methods in her work and has conducted research in the United States and in France, Mexico, and Sweden.

Google Scholar page:

Research Publications


  • Bowen, Sarah, Joslyn Brenton, and Sinikka Elliott. 2019. Pressure Cooker: Why Home Cooking Won’t Solve Our Problems and What We Can Do About It. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Bowen, Sarah. 2015. Divided Spirits: Tequila, Mezcal, and the Politics of Production. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Selected journal articles:

  • Bowen, Sarah, Annie Hardison-Moody, Emilia Cordero Oceguera, and Sinikka Elliott. “Beyond Dietary Acculturation: How Latina Immigrants Navigate Exclusionary Systems to Feed Their Families.” Early view, Social Problems. doi:10.1093/socpro/spad013
  • Bowen, Sarah, Sinikka Elliott, and Annie Hardison-Moody. 2022. “Rural Food Insecurity: A Longitudinal Analysis of Low-income Rural Households with Children in the South.” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 8(3): 50-77.
  • Elliott, Sinikka, Sierra J. Satterfield, G. Solorzano, Sarah Bowen, Annie Hardison-Moody, and Latasha Williams. “Disenfranchised: How Lower-Income Mothers Navigated the Social Safety Net During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World 7. doi: 10.1177%2F23780231211031690.
  • Bowen, Sarah, Sinikka Elliott, and Annie Hardison-Moody. 2021. “The Structural Roots of Food Insecurity: How Racism Is a Fundamental Cause of Food Insecurity.” Sociology Compass 15(7): e12846.
  • Elliott, Sinikka and Sarah Bowen. 2018. “Defending Motherhood: Morality, Responsibility, and Double Binds in Feeding Children.” Journal of Marriage and Family 80(2): 499-520.
  • Bowen, Sarah, and Marie Sarita Gaytán. 2012. “The Paradox of Protection: National Identity, Global Commodity Chains, and the Tequila Industry.” Social Problems 59(1): 70-93.
  • Bowen, Sarah. 2010. “Embedding Local Places in Global Spaces: Geographical Indications as a Territorial Development Strategy.” Rural Sociology 75(2): 209-243.
  • Bowen, Sarah, and Ana Valenzuela Zapata. 2009. “Geographical Indications, Terroir, and Socioeconomic and Ecological Sustainability: The Case of Tequila.” Journal of Rural Studies 25(1): 108-119.

Public writing:

  • Bowen, Sarah, Annie Hardison-Moody, and Sinikka Elliott. 2020. “Want to Fight Rising Food Insecurity? Listen to People Who’ve Been Hungry.” Civil Eats, May 8, 2020. Available at
  • Bowen, Sarah, Sinikka Elliott, and Annie Hardison-Moody. 2019. “A Heartbreaking Choice for Moms—Food or a Family’s Future. The New York Times, August 21, 2019. Available at
  • Bowen, Sarah, Sinikka Elliott, and Joslyn Brenton. 2019. “Why Ditching Processed Foods Won’t Be Easy—Barriers to Cooking from Scratch.” National Public Radio’s The Salt, May 24, 2019. Available at
  • Elliott, Sinikka, Sarah Bowen, and Joslyn Brenton. 2018. “To Close America’s Diet Gap, We Must Recognize Food as a Human Right.” The Guardian, July 21, 2018. Available at
  • Bowen, Sarah, Sinikka Elliott, and Annie Hardison-Moody. 2018. “If Congress Changes Food Stamp Requirements, Kids Will Go Hungry.” The New York Times, July 1, 2018. Available at

Funded Research

Bowen, Sarah (PI), and Annie Hardison-Moody (co-PI). 2020-2022. “RAPID: Effects of Responses to COVID-19 and Social Context on Food Insecurity.” National Science Foundation, $199,034.

Bowen, Sarah (PI), Sinikka Elliott (co-PI), and Annie Hardison-Moody (co-PI). 2019-2022. “Understanding and Addressing the Roots of Child Food Insecurity: A Qualitative Longitudinal Analysis.” Russell Sage Foundation, $174,567.

Hardison-Moody, Annie (PI), Lindsey Haynes-Maslow (co-PI), J. Dara Bloom, Lorelei Jones, Carolyn Dunn, Sarah Bowen, Jason Bocarro, Michael Kanters, Aaron Hipp, Michael Edwards, Myron Floyd, and Cintia Aguilar. 2016-2018. “A Multi-Level Approach to Prevent Obesity: Extension and Engagement in Four North Carolina Counties.” Center for Disease Control, $1,582,325.

Bowen, Sarah (PI), Richelle Winkler (co-PI), J. Dara Bloom, and Lillian O’Connell. 2014-2015. “Contextualizing Family Food Decisions: The Role of Household Characteristics, Neighborhood Deprivation, and the Local Food Environment.” USDA ERS, $39,848.

Bowen, Sarah (PI), Sinikka Elliott (co-PI), Annie Hardison-Moody (co-PI), Lorelei Jones, Susan Jakes, and J. Dara Bloom. 2011-2016. “Community-Based Approach to Reducing Childhood Obesity in Low-Income Populations: Research to Action.” USDA NIFA, AFRI, $3,026,299.


B.S. Agricultural and Biological Engineering The Pennsylvania State University 2000

M.S. Rural Sociology University of Wisconsin-Madison 2004

Ph.D. Sociology University of Wisconsin-Madison 2008

Area(s) of Expertise

Sociology of Food, Health and Inequality, Political Economy/Globalization, Qualitative and Participatory Research Methods