I was so interested to readRachel Lauden’s take on the term “foodways,” a word frequently used in anthropological and sociological food studies to mean both food custom and culture. I have never liked the term–I thought it sounded a bit like a grocery chain–and used “food practices” in my own writing to help differentiate food-centered activities (eating, cooking, shopping) from food ideologies and symbolism in the literature of my study.
I sometimes feel like a food studies outsider, since there was no food studies program or certificate at my university as I finished my dissertation (there may be one, in the future) and I participate in food studies discourse intermittently at best. So I was a bit mollified to learn that Lauden, whose work I greatly respect, doesn’t care for the word either.
Speaking of food studies discourse: Emily Contois posted a very compelling summary of her recent article, “Healthy Food Blogs: Creating New Nutrition Knowledge at the Crossroads of Science, Foodie Lifestyle, and Gender Identities.” As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’ve been seeing a nutritionist for the last few months; I like her and her approach to nutrition very much, but the process of food tracking and sorting out protein-carb-fat ratios has made me hyperconscious of the language of “healthy” food. As I browse the internet for recipes featuring whole grains and protein-rich ingredients, I’m bombarded with quasi-mystical discourses of weight reduction, athletic optimization, and bodily purification. In my aggravation, I hadn’t paid much attention to the ways this language is gendered, too. But of course. Of course it is.
I think I first saw this Vox article in a tweet with a rather presumptuous headline, like “Why tomatoes taste terrible,” and I became indignant thinking of my tasty little flavor-bomb tomatoes that grow out of IKEA greenhouses in my sunny apartment. But of course the article discusses grocery store tomatoes, and of course I’ve had some terrifyingly cottony tomatoes myself, so I was interested to read this interview with a molecular biologist getting into the weeds of flavor compounds and whatnot. Fair warning: the biologist works for Monsanto, which has shady practices regarding the sale and distribution of their genetically modified foods, but the genetic modification itself is interesting.
The Washington Post tested the sociology of the office candy dish, to hilarious results.
First of all, nearly everyone who approached the candy while Kevin was present emitted some sort of noise before opening the jar, even if it was just a primal “oooooh!” or “mmmm.” Some politely asked if they could have a piece. Others explained why they shouldn’t have a piece before diving in. A photographer started singing “The Candy Man.” … Wenk called it “the Kevin stimulus.” Basically, Kevin’s presence injected social complications into the food decisions. People had to decide whether the candy was worth the interaction.
I’ve been following the Stuart Semple-Anish Kapoor feud over Vantablack with great glee–“the art of petty,” I’ve heard it called–so I’m delighted to have a flimsy excuse to include it in my link buffet, thanks to Semple’s new cherry-scented black pigment. Why cherry-scented? I have not come across an explanation.
Who’s ready for a little banana horror?!