Food and Culture
A Reader, 3rd Edition
Edited by Carole Counihan, Penny Van Esterik
Routledge – 2013 – 634 pages
The classic book that helped to define and legitimize the field of food and culture studies is now available, with major revisions, in a specially affordable e-book version (978-0-203-07975-1).
The third edition includes 40 original essays and reprints of previously published classics under 5 Sections: FOUNDATIONS, HEGEMONY AND DIFFERENCE, CONSUMPTION AND EMBODIMENT, FOOD AND GLOBALIZATION, and CHALLENGING, CONTESTING, AND TRANSFORMING THE FOOD SYSTEM.
17 of the 40 articles included are either, new to this edition, rewritten by their original authors, or edited by Counihan and van Esterik.
A bank of test items applicable to each article in the book is available to instructors interested in selecting this edition for course use. Simply send an e.mail to the publisher at firstname.lastname@example.org
"Counihan and Van Esterik were my gateway to food studies. It’s simply impossible for me to imagine a more cohesive and enticing anthology of writings about culture, consumption, and cuisine for students, scholars, and the public-at-large. But in this newest iteration we see the abundant fruit of their earlier path-breaking labors: rich new insights about health, lifestyle, social equity, and popular advocacy. The third edition is indispensible."
—Benjamin N. Lawrance, Conable Chair in International Studies, Rochester Institute of Technology, author of Local Foods Meet Global Foodways: Tasting History
"Counihan and Van Esterik’s reader has long been a staple of food-related course syllabi and reading lists. This new edition reflects the vibrancy of food studies today with the inclusion of recent key contributions to the field. Anyone who is serious about the study of food should have a copy close at hand."
—Harry G. West, Professor of Anthropology, Chair of the Food Studies Centre, SOAS,University of London
"They've done it again. Blending foundational favorites with important new work on race, power, and nation, Counihan and Van Esterik's latest edition of Food and Culture puts our field's diverse and crucial contributions at our students' fingertips."
—Carolyn De La Peña, American Studies, University of California, Davis
"For several years Food and Culture has been a phenomenon in the field of food studies. This new, revised edition continues the exciting mix of tradition and innovation, showing the editors’ mastery of a subject that has become increasingly complex."
—Peter Scholliers, History, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, co-editor of Food & History
"Food and Culture is the indispensable resource for anyone delving into food studies for the first time. The editors have conveniently gathered readings from classic texts to the latest writings on cutting-edge issues in this field. In its third edition the book has so much new material that it reads as fresh and should appeal to and be useful to students and others from a range of disciplines"
—Marion Nestle, Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University, co-author of Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics
"Incorporating both classics and the latest work, Food and Culture remains the essential introduction to the flourishing field of food studies."
—Warren Belasco, American Studies,University of Maryland, Baltimore County, author of Appetite for Change, Meals to Come, and Food: The Key Concepts
"Food and Culture is an indispensible collection of both classic and cutting-edge food studies scholarship. Newly updated to reflect current issues and debates, it will continue to serve as a foundation text for our food studies program."
—Amy Bentley, Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University
"This is an indispensable instrument for students and researchers who are interested in food as a social as well as a political and economic object. The new organisation of the book and its 40 chapters opens essential paths of reflection for anthropologists and other social scientists, such as hegemony, globalisation, forms of protest through food, and the transformations of the food system. I highly recommend it."
—Valeria Siniscalchi, Economic Anthropology, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales
"This newly revised volume remains the exemplary collection on food and culture, but it is also much more than that. In addressing both core classic and contemporary issues in food studies, Food and Culture brings food to life as an outstanding vehicle for engaging students in a broad range of critical cultural issues that are central not only in food courses but in every course."
—Jon Holtzman, Anthropology, Western Michigan University, author of Uncertain Tastes: Memory, Ambivalence and the Politics of Eating in Samburu, Northern Kenya
Foreword from The Gastronomical Me, M.F.K. Fisher
Introduction to the Third Edition
Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik
This piece questions attitudes towards food and eating in a world where food is overabundant and we face the ambiguity of overindulgence and guilt.
French structuralists explain how food acts as a system of communication and provides a body of images that mark eating situations.
Bourdieu addresses differences between taste of luxury and taste of necessity through his theory of class distinction.
This classic structuralist statement, often critiqued, shows how food preparation can be analyzed as a triangular semantic field, much like language.
Douglas applies structural analysis to the establishment of religious dietary rules as a means to develop self-control, distinction, and a sense of belonging based on the construction of holiness.
Materialists like Harris reject symbolic and structuralist explanations and explain food prohibitions based on economic and ecological utility.
The early industrialization of food processing was made possible by advancements in preservation, mechanization, marketing, and transport of food items. These advancements also separated urban and rural societies from food manufacturing.
Sidney W. Mintz
Colonialism made high-status sugar produced in the Caribbean into a working class staple.
Hegemony and Difference: Race, class and gender
Ethnographic, historical, and literary research reveals not only controlling and damaging stereotypes about African Americans and chicken but also the ways Black women have used chicken as a form of resistance and community survival.
Cooking shows featuring male chefs predominate on Japanese television and propagate one-dimensional definitions of masculinity based on power, authority, and ownership of consumer commodities.
Swenson analyzes how the programs of The Food Network manifest gender stereotypes while also providing an avenue for challenging ideas of male and female roles regarding food.
Japanese mothers, in preparing elaborate lunch-boxes for their preschool children, reproduce state ideologies of power.
Food-centered life histories portray the voices and perspectives of traditionally muted Hispanic women of rural southern Colorado whose food stories reveal differential behaviors and consciousness which promote empowerment.
Because feeding work is complex, laborious, and highly gendered, it is problematic in lesbigay families because a full accounting of it would destroy illusions of equality and call into question masculinity of gay men who do it and femininity of lesbians who do not.
By applying feminist materialist theory Slocum analyses the embodiment of race and its manifestations through food practices and behavior displayed at the farmers’ market.
Punk cuisine – based on scavenged, rotten, and/or stolen food – challenges the hierarchy, commodification, toxicity, and environmental destruction of the capitalist food system.
Consumption and Embodiment
Medieval women used food for personal religious expression, including giving food away, exuding foods from their bodies, and undertaking fasts to gain religious and cultural power.
Bordo argues that eating disorders and body image issues are created through social and media pressures that target all women regardless of race or class.
Richard O’ Connor
This paper offers a biocultural approach to anorexia that stresses how young people obsess not over beauty but over an ascetic search for self-control.
Men’s fitness magazines define masculinity through discussions of food and body, increasingly involving men in concerns about constructing corporeal perfection and regulating consumption to build muscle and strength.
Practical knowledge of food preparation is an embodied skill that uses all the senses. Standardization of modern food practices affects the social dimensions of this type of experiential learning.
The urban phenomenon of public eating in Thailand is a reflection of changes in gender, labor, and household dynamics in a (post)industrial food system.
Gary Paul Nabhan
Skyrocketing adult-onset diabetes among desert dwelling Seri Indians of Northern Mexico suggests that changes in diet have caused this major health problem and that traditional desert foods – especially legumes, cacti, and acorns – are protective.
Political economists identify how the industrial food system manipulates the price of commodity goods in order to shape the diet of Americans. This global capitalist food system with its cheap and addictive foods promotes both hunger and obesity.
Food and Globalization
This article examines the growing consumption of packaged foods by middle-class South Asian Indians in Bangalore and Boston and focuses on the relationship between authenticity, meanings of motherhood, and definitions of the family.
Transformations in Belizean food from colonial times to the present demonstrate transnational political, economic and culinary influences that have affected the ways Belizean people define themselves and their nation.
Cultural food colonialism is reproduced by food adventurers who seek out ethnic foods to satisfy their taste for the exotic other.
This chapter provides a brief history of the Slow Food movement’s politics and controversies.
Jeffrey M. Pilcher
The case of Mexico highlights challenges to the program of Italy’s Slow Food Movement which offers strategies for the maintenance of traditional, local, and sustainable Mexican food but which does not address problems of class and food access.
This chapter examines globalization of food through a case study of pizza in Japan through the transnational experiences of Japanese and Italian pizza chefs.
In Beijing, Chinese consumers localize fast food by linking it to being American and being modern. They enjoy the standardization of meals, the hospitable service, the democratic environment, and the cleanliness, which create a desirable space to socialize and linger.
The neoliberal model of production has contributed to the feminization of labor and poverty as told through the stories of two Mexican and one Canadian worker forced to adapt to the flexibility of labor in the global food system.
Challenging, Contesting, and Transforming the Food System
The mistreatment of meatpacking workers in the United States is linked to the high rates of trauma in this dangerous industry and reveals general problems of corporate food production.
This article examines salad greens to study the development of modern organic food production, its roots in the counter culture movement of the 1960’s, and its transformation into a gentrified commodity reserved for a privileged niche market.
Penny Van Esterik
The commodification of baby food has had severe consequences, but advocacy groups actively resist the promotional tactics of transnational food and pharmaceutical companies.
The advent of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has seriously affected food aid, even in the context of famine and extreme hunger.
The culture-wide denigration of the "obesity epidemic" is not only due to its health consequences, but also to the political and economic benefits to the food corporations, the diet industry, and the health professions.
Because of great need, many U.S. volunteers feed the hungry, but charity not only fails to solve the underlying causes of hunger – poverty and inequality – but contributes to it by offering token rather than structural solutions and taking the government off the hook.
McCutcheon looks at Black Nationalist religious organizations that aim to achieve racial self-reliance through community food movements.
Charles Z. Levkoe
The modern detachment of people from their food sources has fostered a surge of community involvement in the food movement. Through engagement in food justice organizations the public is relearning democratic citizenship and empathy for activism.
Carole Counihan is Professor Emerita of Anthropology at Millersville University in Pennsylvania and editor-in-chief of Food and Foodways. Her earlier books include Around the Tuscan Table: Food, Family, and Gender in Twentieth-Century Florence, Food in the USA, and The Anthropology of Food and Body: Gender, Meaning, and Power.
Penny Van Esterik is Professor of Anthropology at York University in Toronto, Canada where she teaches nutritional anthropology, in addition to doing research on food and globalization in Southeast Asia. She is a founding member of WABA (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action) and writes on infant and young child feeding, including her earlier book, Beyond the Breast-Bottle Controversy.