Food Foundations

Meaning Making and Food

Cooking and eating have sets of rules that convey various messages and the meaning of these messages are negotiated in cultures (one culture’s choicest delicacy is another culture’s abomination) and change over time. For example, which foods are disgusting has changed, fifty years ago, organ meats were prized in the United States, but today, these are no longer seen in stores or on menus.1 Similarly, eating choices and morality around eating has changed over time, including vegetarianism, animal rights, health based eating. Morality even toward plant based food is important in a specific culture.1 Behaviors and expected/appropriate behaviors around obtaining, consuming, and post-consumption of food reflect individual life choices, identities, morals, or even religious preferences and ultimately reflect societal norms. Food comes with a long history that offer complex discourses and it is important to examine the various ways that food intersects with different issues, like food packaging, advertising, cookbooks, among many others.2 Additionally, foodways are often institutions that imply a set of assumption, beliefs, expectations, tastes, choices, and values.3

  1. “Food classification and communication.” In Anderson, E. N. (2005).Everyone Eats: Understanding Food and Culture. 109-123.New York: NYU Press.
  2. LeBesco, Kathleen and Peter Naccarato. “Introduction.” In Edible Ideologies: Representing Food and Meaning, edited by Kathleen LeBesco and Peter Naccarato, 1-11. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2008.
  3. Barthes, Roland. “Toward a psychosociology of contemporary food consumption.” In Food and Culture: A Reader, Edited by Carole Counihan and Penny van Esterik, 23-30. New York: Routledge, 2013.

Thought Buffet

Food Politics
Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture 
Feminist Food Studies: A Brief History
California Studies in Food and Culture
Getting Started in Food History
Food: a recipe for communication
Food and Health Communications
Food Communication
The Rise of Food-Studies Programs
Food Studies
University of Oregon Food Studies

Projects to Whet your Appetite

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