In this innovative contribution to the study of food, gender, and power, Helen Vallianatos meticulously documents cultural values and beliefs, dietary practaices, and the nutritional and health status of mothers in Indian squatter settlements. She explores both large-scale forces—incorporating critical medical anthropology and feminist theory into a biocultural paradigm—and the local and individual choices New Delhi women make in interpreting cultural dietary norms based on their reproductive histories, socioeconomic status, family structure, and other specific conditions. Her findings have significant implications for nutritional and medical anthropology and development studies, and her innovative research design serves as a model for multi-method studies that use participatory research principles, combine quantitative and qualitative investigations, and interpret diverse types of data.
"This research exquisitely exemplifies the complexities and strengths of mixed-method design. Vallianatos links diverse data sets-physiological measurements, dietary analysis, market surveys-with ethnographic data to produce a rich and comprehensive description of the variety of forces shaping women's food consumption practices in India.[and] achieves the extraordinary task of forming a coherent portrayal of everyday life in the New Delhi slums." -Kim D. Raine, University of Alberta