‘[Communication] can either be healthy (and nourishing) or toxic (and destructive),’ notes the Zen master and Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.
People argue that effective communication is as essential to sustaining life as food and that communication can be good or bad for the receiver’s health. We tend to think of nourishment only as what we take in through our mouths, but what we consume through other senses can also be considered nourishment. To examine this further, Veinberg (2015) conducted a study that looked at the was students interacted with media through the lens of nourishment behaviors. The ultimate conclusion was that communication is food, and that the ways that people interact with food is mirrored in the ways that they interact with media.1 Pleasure is an essential part of food and as such is an essential part of communication. Pleasure and taste are intertwined which makes the sense of taste and personal tastes an important consideration when thinking about food communication and pleasure. From this premise, interesting relationships between communication and food and pleasure arise. In this triad, the sense of taste plays an important role as does the tongue and mouth.2 Not only do your tongue and mouth taste the food you enjoy, but they also taste the word you speak. Beyond looking at taste as one of the senses, taste can be said to serve two opposing worldviews: tastes of luxury and tastes of necessity.3 When looking at these tastes, eating is moved out of the realm of chewing and swallowing food to the food choices and eating behaviors that a person chooses to engage in. Additionally, people’s preferred food and eating choice can be considered a symbol of their personal values and identity. While eating for nourishment is based on the substantiality of the food, it can also be boring; whereas eating for flair is based on the experience of eating, it can also be superficial.3
- Veinberg, S. (2015). Is communication really food? Epiphany: Journal of Transdisciplinary Studies, 8(2), 143-159.
- Brillat-Savarin, J-A. (1972). Physiology of Taste (pp.38-68), (M. F. K. Fischer, Trans.). New York, NY: Albert Knof.
- Bourdieu, P. (2013). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. In C. Counihan, & P. van Esterik (Eds.) Food and Culture: A Reader (31-39). New York, NY: Routledge.
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