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SOC808 Chapter 3 - You Are What You Eat - Enjoying and Transforming Food Culture

Culture ​= The human process of meaning-making (artifacts, norms, ideas, etc)

- Our ‘culture’ tells us how meals are prepared, what foods are enjoyable, and what foods
are taboo

- We criticize ​fast-food ​culture and praise ​slow-food ​culture (meaningful, sustainable

sustenance i.e homegrown and homecooked)

- Moral failing of fatness, moral pride in willpower -

- Individuals are encouraged to eat mindfully to avoid overeating, obese
bodies are linked to personal failings, and individual dietary changes are
lauded as solutions to social and environmental problems

- Consumer culture examined by cultural sociology and consumer studies

- Culture as a toolkit: Swidler argues that culture should be viewed as a
collection of culturally defined elements
- Individuals can pick elements that sustain habitual behaviours (e.g., cooking
from an old family recipe) or can select tools to explore new ways of acting in
the world (e.g., trying a new cuisine)
- People have some agency about what they eat, but culinary tastes and ideas
about ‘good’ food are also influenced by broader structural forces, such as
ethnic background, social class, family socialization, and gende
- Food scholars have documented how political-economic and institutional
forces powerfully influence food culture
- How does culture work at a less conscious level to influence ideas and actions?
- Giddens makes a distinction between:
- ​“practical consciousness”​ which involves the tacit understandings and
intuitive decisions people make in their daily routines which they can’t always
directly express
- “discursive consciousness” ​which involves people’s formal articulations and
rationalizations for their actions
- Argues that people’s desire to appreciate fine art and good food was not always
consciously developed but reflected a less conscious desire to reproduce their class
- Habitus: ​ingrained habits, skills and dispositions. How certain tastes and preferences
become internalized and converted into a disposition that generates meaningful
practices and meaning-giving perceptions
- Empirical force to supporting the idea of habitus: human cognition has a ‘dual process’
quality: a ​deliberate conscious process​ that is slow and reflexive and an ​automatic
process​ that is fast and intuitive
- Automatic consciousness is influential in what we think, feel and do but most of our
cognitions occur below the level of conscious awareness
- When we make food choices, we are driven by deeply internalized schematic processes
and also capable of deliberation and justification.
- Schemas represent deep, largely unconscious networks of neural associations that
facilitate perception, interpretation and action

Ethical Foodscape
- A realm where good food is not simply viewed as an individual indulgence but connects
to collective obligations like sustainability, animal welfare and social justice.
- Dominant food and consumer culture continually evolves and incorporates critical voices
into the mainstream.

Alternative Hedonism
- Involves new conceptions of the ‘good life’ that appear to be gaining hold among some
affluent consumers
- Implies a more questioning attitude towards the supposed blessings of consumerism
- Draws attention to the growing dissatisfaction with high-consumption lifestyles
- Consuming differently generates new pleasures

Karma Co-op and WFM

- Karma shoppers’ purposeful decisions to consume differently are sustained by the
alternatively hedonistic pleasures they experience in the shopping environment
- Karma shoppers expressed concerns about social and environmental issues in the food
system and thought of Karma was a more ethical solution to move away from
- alternative hedonism involves a dual cognitive process: it involves deliberative
thought processes (e.g., intentionally going out of one’s way to become a member at
Karma, or choosing Karma over a closer or more convenient grocery chain), while
pleasures are experienced at the level of automatic consciousness. Without these
automatic pleasures, consumer practices cannot be sustained or become routine habits
- Contradictions in consumer motivation:
- Karma respondents emphasized the social rather than the aesthetic qualities of
the shopping environment (found in WFM)
- Consumers seek out consumer pleasures at WFM while being shaped by a food
culture that prioritizes consumer choice, convenience, luxury and sensory
- Karma Co-Op consumers featured instances of discursive cognition
- Possibilities for transformative food culture
- The choice of choosing ‘good food’ (e.g sustainable, non-exploitive, etc)
Chapter 4 - Canada’s Food History Through Cookbooks

What do cookbooks reveal about Canadians’ culinary practices?

- Four authoritative sources
- Objective authority of science and innovation
- First hand experience in the kitchen
- Rigorous tests performed in industry food labs
- Intimate understanding of tastes of the home food provider and her family

How have these influences changed over time?

- Early settlers relied on simply a ‘full belly’
- 1920’s depended on milk, “the perfect food”
- 1942 Canada’s dietary guidelines were introduced as avaried, full diet
- 1980’s cookbook writers promoted lighter fare to limit Canadians’ food intake
- Desire to distinguish things as Canadian found in 1840’s La cuisiniere canadienne
- Promotion of locally sourced foods in “From the Kitchens of Kings Landing (1995)
- Influences of exotic foods early on in “The King’s Daughters Cookery Book (1904)

Foodways ​= the systems through which food is sourced, prepared, served, consumed and
disposed of

- Analyzing foodways of Quebec:

- 1605 to 1690, French and Amerindian food practices
- 1690 - 1790, one at in the French style
- 1790 to 1860 exchange between French and British foodways from the influx of
British in Quebec city following the battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759
- 1860 to 1960, one ate ‘a la canadienne’ with Canada setting its own traditions
- 1967 Canadian foodways were shaped by international culinary influences
What is a recipe?
- Form of “embedded discourse”
- Focus on the “giving of the recipe”
- A recipe needs a recommendation, a context, a point, a reason to be
- David Herman describes a recipe as something that can make things happen, that can
function as an agent of transformation
- There is an agenda - they are trying to get a message across that is often hidden

What is a Cookbook?
- A sequence of prescriptive narratives that:
- Anticipate culinary realization outside the text
- Disseminated within a particular context that signalled by the text in the form of
an implied author and reader
Desloges’ Model
- Five distinct periods of culinary practice
- Contact and settlement
- Consolidation
- Affiliation - institutions and corporations
- Articulation - articulation of a Canadian cuisine
- Differentiation - what makes eating Canadian unique

- Canadian culinary tradition - the connotation of ​commensality​: “eating at the same

- Foods as Canadian: bacon, salmon, maple syrup, butter tarts, nanaimo bars, poutine,
beaver tails, Tim Hortons donuts

Chapter 5 - Constructing Healthy Eating / Constructing Self

- The Food Choice Model describes how food decisions are shaped by values and beliefs
as well as balancing food preferences, costs, healthfulness and social relationships
- Healthy eating is a socially constructed shifting discourse that shapes and is shaped by
what people say and do in relation to food. E.g women and men think and talk about
healthy eating differently
- Discourses​ refers to pervasive ways of thinking that over time come to define what can
be said about something or what can be considered possible. Discourses can influence
- Media plays a significant role in dispersing discourses throughout a society. In healthy
eating discourses, some foods and practices are labelled as healthy or unhealthy (i.e
good or bad)
- Discourses can be promoted through informal channels such as relationships
- Alternative discourses will take shape when people actively resist the dominant

Discourse and Identity

- Canadians engage with food and eating through discourses that link health and
practices to identity (gender, life stage, ethnicity, social class)
- Gender:
- Women’s foods are seen as prettier or delicate, masculine foods as meaty, heavy
or filling
- Age / Family Stage:
- Those who live alone spend more on food and on eating out and consume less
nutritionally adequate diets
- People in couples are more likely to prepare and consume proper meals
- Ethnicity:
- Ethnicity can affect one’s view on how to and how much to eat
- Class:
- Higher social classes have been shown to have diets closer to standard
healthy-eating recommendations

Healthy Eating
- Healthy eating discourses =
- mainstream discourse = consumption of fruits and vegetables, grains, low-fat
meat, poultry and dairy products
- Difference between traditional and mainstream view of how meat is
described - traditional sees it as essential, mainstream sees meat (red) as
- Traditional = cultural based - home cooked meals with meat and potatoes using
unprocessed and natural foods
- Alternative = ethical based - using natural unprocessed foods low in toxins and
high in micronutrients
- Healthy eating discourses are strongly connected to body weight

Chapter 6 - Feminism and Foodwork

- Gender division of household labour - women continue to do the majority of the foodwork
in Canadian families
- Women exhibit profound dissatisfaction with their bodies
- Women are encouraged to buy products to achieve the ‘perfect body’
- Nutritionism: ​measuring good by its nutrient composition
- Healthism: ​individualized effort to achieve health while neglecting the complex social
determinants that inform health practices - vehicles of neoliberalism which emphasizes
individual responsibility for security and well-being

What is fat studies?

- Critique of the negative assumptions, stereotypes and stigma placed on fat and the fat

What is intersectionality?
What is the practical work associated with lack of money?
- Women must be more resourceful in their cooking: cooking from scratch, altering menus
to stretch the meal, making low-cost meals that use a minimum of ingredients, serving
food the family likes so none is wasted
- Under financial duress, women will serve themselves lower-quality food or smaller
portions to ensure their children are not hungry or that their male partners are satisfied
What is meant by gender and foodwork being iterative?
What do the authors wish to confound?

Chapter 7 - Critical Dietetics

- Dietetics = ​the branch of knowledge concerned with the diet and its effects on health,
especially with the practical application of a scientific understanding of nutrition.

Chapter 8 - Food Revolutions

First Food Revolution

- 15,000 BCE - 5,000 BCE
- Domestication of plants and animals to serve human needs
- Gave us agriculture and animal husbandry
- First farmers were groups of extended families

Second Food Revolution

- Began in 1945 after WWII
- This revolution combines the mechanical, chemical and bio-tech revolutions which
together enable global capitalism to enter and control the food system
- Agriculture becoming capitalist
- US’ ​food provisioning system​ is at the centre of this revolution, corn becomes the
largest and most important crop in the US.
- US is the core of the global food system

What did the Food Surplus afford?

- In the days of the hunters and gatherers, when nature’s food supply diminished, a group
would simply relocate to a more plentiful environment. No techniques of storing food so
there was no motivation to accumulate more food than needed, thus a lack of a food
- The domestication of plants and animals creates an increase in food productivity,
generating a growing surplus

1. A food surplus creates class relations/the possibility of a class stratification, when there
is a surplus, a dominant class may take control of it
2. A food surplus allows workers to be freed from the work of food production and focus on
other actions such as art, politics, religion or war
3. A food surplus enables the population to grow in relatively permanent settlements that
could practice trade and develop specializations. A food surplus enabled the increase of
the global population from 4 million to 100 million from 10,000 BCE and 500 BCE
4. A food surplus allows state function to begin to emerge as the dominant class generates
key decision making groups that would make and enforce laws, collect taxes,
promulgate religion and make war

Capitalism and Agriculture

- Basic aim is to accumulate the greatest profit in the least time
- In a capitalist society, maximizing profit overrides all other goals
- Marx called the difference between value created by workers and the value they receive
back as wages, “​exploitation” ​- the higher rate of exploitation, the greater the profits
- Circuit of capital ​= the turnover time between purchase of inputs and sale of output. I.e
time is money
- Externalities ​= a side effect or consequence of an industrial or commercial activity that
affects other parties without this being reflected in the cost of the goods or services
involved, such as the pollination of surrounding crops by bees kept for honey.
- Capitalism is the main problem ​as it is the main cause of both the globalization and
industrialization of food production
- Capitalism’s emphasis on profit means other existances such as human health or social
justice are ignored unless they affect profit or laws require these to be considered

Capitalism destroys the small family farm by providing:

- Farm machinery and petrochemicals
- Petrochemical fertilizers that increase yields and create a treadmill effect (more you use,
the more you have to increase the use)
- Provides pesticides and usage increases while creating pests that build a resistance to
- Provides seeds that are increasingly costly (esp. Genetically modified seeds)
- Handful of giant corps. Control production and marketing
- Large gov. Subsidies go to mainly the largest farms
- Large farms are in a better position to win the lucrative contracts
- Migrant workers

Week 3 Theories
The Question of Control

- The control of larger forces on how life is lived
- E.g bureaucracy, law system, class system

- The initiative and action taken by individual to rule their own life
- E.g bringing oneself out of poverty, challenging the justice system

Conceptualizing Knowledge
- How do we view the world, and how do we measure lived experiences?

- Is there a single reality that we all experience?
- Do we construct the meaning of the world around us?

- Can human behaviour be studied in the same manner as the scientific world?
- Can meaning be measured?

What is a Critical Approach?

- Focuses on the sources, nature and consequences of power relationships
- Feminist Theory ​ seeks equality for all people along gender lines
- Critical Race Theory ​asks questions and challenges how social structures perpetuate
- Queer Theory ​challenges heteronormativity

Race, Ethnicity and Culture

- Social order and hierarchy - whiteness as the Canadian norm
- The role of stigma
- Intersection with class and gender
- Anti-racist pedagogy in food studies
- Actively addressing race and embedded social privileges

Queer Theory
- Symbolizes spectral differences disavowed in the face of dominant power that
normalizes, legitimizes and privileges heterosexuals
- Queer means whatever is at odds with the normal, legitimate and the dominant
- QT should celebrate unruly perspectives and discontinuous experiences; disturb simple
notions of life; complicate and explore the politics of membering

What will enhance our food system?

- We are living in difficult times when it comes to food
- Hunger remains a problem
- Farmers are having a hard time making a living
- Trad. agriculture is not environmentally sustainable
- The dominant food system does not promote healthy food
- Society puts food last rather than first as a priority
- Destroyed centuries of traditional methods of food sovereignty - fishing, hunting and

Presentation Questions

1. What’s an example of person in the food industry in the public sphere?

a. Gordon Ramsey
2. Who is the top paid influencer on Instagram?
a. Kylie Jenner
3. Which celebrity couple is giving out free concert tickets in support of veganism?
a. Beyonce and Jay-Z
4. What is the role of a dietitian that was discussed?
a. Developing diet plans and counselling patients on special diet modifications
5. What drink did Starbucks release in 2017?
a. Unicorn Frappe
6. Burrito comes from the Spanish word “Burro” which means?
a. Donkey
7. Which of the following characteristics do Canadian cookbooks show throughout the
a. All of the above
8. What year did Buzzfeed Tasty launch their online platform for recipes on Facebook?
a. 2015
9. Who created the appetite suppressant lollipop?
a. Kim Kardashian
10. What is the negative effect of consuming cow’s milk/dairy products?
a. Acne
11. Where was Pineapple Pizza invented?
a. Ontario
12. What is meant by the term, ‘habitus’?
a. A person’s ingrained habits, skills and dispositions
13. Which of the following wastes the most energy when food is wasted?
a. Beef