Erin and her classmates cook with both farmers' market vegetables and Crisco. What does that have to do with larger questions of poverty and obesity?
Food Studies features the voices of volunteer student bloggers from a variety of different food- and agriculture-related programs at universities around the world. Don't miss Erin's last post, on conducting ethnographic research at the farmers' market.
To see food as simply good or bad nutrition also medicalizes it, underplaying all the other reasons people eat.
Alice Julier, a sociologist and head of Chatham University’s Food Studies program, wrote this in an article called "The Political Economy of Obesity: The Fat Pay All," in regards to the idea of taxing junk food and soft drinks. The article is about how the obesity epidemic serves social and political purposes in much the same ways as poverty: as a means of masking larger structural problems. Julier argues that when obesity is the focus of the discussion, it places the blame on those that are fat, as opposed to the problems in our society that do not allow access to healthy food.
For me, this quote is an important distillation of something that I think about often, and that those of us involved in food studies and the food movement at large need to think about more.
I look at the way that I and many of my cohorts seek out local, organic food, yet drink Diet Coke, and we use recipes by Alice Waters that celebrate "clean," "simple" foods yet will also make Betty Crocker recipes that call for Crisco. I don't see this contrast as a bad thing, but I think that we need to examine the privileges we have that allow us to make these choices. The fact that we have some level of disposable income, access to education, and enough to eat every day are just some of the factors that create the environment in which we have these choices—and that's something we shouldn't overlook.
To be continued... Erin is a student blogger for the Food Studies feature on GOOD's Food hub. If you enjoyed this, you should check out the rest of the Food Studies blogger gang here, including recent posts on glue-y sauce Raifort, iodine tablets, and land-grant universities.
All photos courtesy of the author.