Food Studies

Food Studies.

Food Studies

The study of food and culture has a long antiquity in anthropology; the study gained momentum in the 19th century where Mallery and Robertson spearheaded it (Counihan & Van Esterik, 2012). Many people have acknowledged that the study of food is very significant for the existence of human race. Studies of food have formed the baseline of giant society processes such as social economic, political value, cultural values, religious belief, and the creation of symbolic values (Counihan & Van Esterik, 2012). Study of food anthropology has concentrated on many aspects of food such as food and social changes, food security and insecurity, food rituals and eating and identities among others.

To understand the current food perspective and approach to food and diet in a certain social background, one needs to compare the current food models with the recent and ancient food models. To understand the link between these models, it is better to develop a theoretical framework to enlighten on the tactic of matters of food and diet. The theoretical framework will easily resolve the quarrel in existing society as well as resolve the predicted conflict. As the days pass on food is becoming more and more renowned where currently many cookbooks and restaurant guides published now and then. Kitchen technology has also advanced with all advanced cooking equipment and utensils and a varied recipe that are changing in the span of a short time. Many anthropologists have done research and came up with theories describing the food.

The anthropologist describes the book of Jack Moody he wrote in 1982 in cooking cuisine and class as the pioneer of the wide perspective of food and culture as it elaborates keenly on these two issues. They argue that the book forms the baseline of progression of anthropology and eating styles. The current anthropological study of food has advanced greatly and served as a driving force of theories and research methods concerning food. The research on food culture and society has continued to increase in a tertiary education institution, government institution and other private and non-governmental organization. The current society has not well approved the influences of goody on food anthropology, but most of the academicians are highly impressed by his work. Cooking Cuisine and Class (CCC) it is a motivating book where the writer set out a contest which looks like symbolic of analysis of anthropological view of food in the 1960s and 1970s (Goody, 1982). The writer tried to analyze the historical change, cultural rationalities, and social satisfaction concerning food at that period.

Marvin Harris creates status on the basic explanation of food choice, taboos, and habitual rituals of the various congregation in the world. Harris in his research he explored the consequence of the collapse of Soviets Union and other dynamics in society to mass food production, the mobility of individuals,  food biotechnology and globalization of food. He discussed the sharing of food had been moral conduct for a long time. The relations of food technology in production and refinement of food lead to food with a new appearance, which affects consumers’ preferences thus determining dietary changes. According to Harris food, studies are an important platform in which debates concerning Acquisitiveness, structuralism and symbols are discussed regarding explaining human behavior (Harris, 2009).

Mintz was one of the anthropologists who expressively backed the study of the interaction food, habitual culture, and communal structure. He stated that most of the studies of ancient activities such as pastoralism, fishing, hunting and gathering and agriculture were considered primitive. When they started to study studies of food production, food circulation, and food intake, these activities form the backbone of political and economic command of a small organization (Mintz & Du Bois, 2002). He stated that the anthropology studies of food could not succeed if it ignores the fieldwork of food and culture. He stated that to conduct research concerning food studies and culture the researcher need to use both qualitative method and quantitative techniques. A good example of a quantitative technique that a food research can use is the survey while a qualitative method used is ethnography and narratives. The modern western food culture they may differ with the ancient food intake by traditional pastoralist and farmers.

According to Mintz & Du Bois (2002), most of the current anthropological study of food in modern western culture may answer some question asked by an ancient anthropologist, but the data collected from the field may differ. The change of the diet is caused by adjustment of people’s views, which may differ with tradition norms and virtues. Even though there is the emergence of many new theories concerning food, there is no enough reason to outdo the ancient theories. These are because to curb deficiencies the approached in historical context is necessary. Most of the basic philosophies cannot be accepted without the approach of the whole theory.

Claude Lévi-Strauss, he one of the individuals who started of structural school, he came up with culinary triangle to relate the link concerning beliefs and nature in social thought. Levis work on folklores and kinship discuss in details the anthropology concern in the current trends of exploring food cultures. Theories of the triangle were not supported by Strauss fieldwork along, but it incorporated many different approaches in its framework. The author links together the culture of different communities such as Indians, Greeks, Americans, and Europeans among others in his underlying approach in respect to food culture. He stated that human brain functions in respect of deep structure whose background is common culture (Lévi-Strauss, 1963). Claude concentrated about food and intake from a designed viewpoint and had a contrasting emphasis on functional perspectives. He focused on a communal procedure that entails production, distribution, and consumption of food toward the set guidelines that direct the criteria in which food is categorized, prepared, and used in a recipe.

Mary Douglas made an important effort in perspective concerning food and eating. Mary illustrated the variances between holy and taboos that are very vital in social history background. She covered a very important study that concerned the ancient Jews food taboos as illustrated in the Bible to symbolic treaties of a grouping of pure and impure animals. Cultural use for food is not only limited to food taboos and restriction. She explains how such taboos may affect the food intake and give nutritionist a hard time to explain dietary prescription and intake. In her diagram explanation in her article of ‘deciphering the meal,’ she showed the importance of sharing food in the community as well as in the family (Douglas, 1972). She used diagrams to explain the meaning of food and her diagram forms an arena for anthropological discussion about food to many scholars.

The theories of Bourdieu’s influence greatly traditional anthropology and social aspect of food. He believes that distinction in social class are the determining factor in various aspect about food such aspects are like food preparation aspect, dietary intake and food preferences. He thought that meals played a special role and it is used as social show off and a kind of lifestyle. He identified that the dining layouts, meals patterns are organized regarding social hierarchy (Tiu Wright, Nancarrow & Kwok, 2001). He analyzed consumption behavior about people of different social classes.

Douglass mostly focused on eating and rituals concerning food. He based her argument in the Bible mostly in the book of Leviticus. She argued that the food is classified into two distinct groups that are pure and impure food. These two groups they affect the food intake especially to the individuals who has that belief. Mintz, on the other hand, commented that the food and culture. The current food intake they are mostly similar to the food that was taken in ancient times, but they processed to a refined product that makes them different. Mintz contrasted Douglass views on food taboos; there is no food restriction in any of Mintz literary work. Douglass used diagrammatic illustration when describing the anthropology of food while Mintz used statements from both qualitative and quantitative research.



Counihan, C., & Van Esterik, P. (2012). Food and culture: A reader. Routledge.

Douglas, M. (1972). Deciphering a meal. Daedalus, 61-81.

Goody, J. (1982). Cooking, cuisine and class: a study in comparative sociology. Cambridge University Press.

Harris, J. E., Gleason, P. M., Sheean, P. M., Boushey, C., Beto, J. A., & Bruemmer, B. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research for food and nutrition professionals. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109(1), 80-90.

Lévi-Strauss, C. (1963). Structural anthropology (Vol. 1). Basic Books.

Mintz, S. W., & Du Bois, C. M. (2002). The anthropology of food and eating. Annual Review of Anthropology, 99-119.

Tiu Wright, L., Nancarrow, C., & Kwok, P. M. (2001). Food tastes preferences and cultural influences on consumption. British Food Journal, 103(5), 348-357.

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Food Studies

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