Food and Body Politics
Food is fundamental, fun, frightening, and far-reaching.
Rozin 1998: 9
No one can escape the conditions of naturality, of eating and drinking and domestic
life with which still-life is concerned. … Whether to see it as trivial, base and
unworthy of serious attention, or to see it otherwise, is very much a matter of history
Bryson 1990: 13
The obsession with food that in the past few decades has taken large sections of many Western cultures by storm apparently will not subside any time soon. In Europe, despite the panic created by looming epidemics (mad cow and such) and the tensions within the European Union about food security and hygiene protocols in certain traditional production methods, artisanal food is more and more popular, becoming a hot topic in a slate of publications, TV shows, and even Internet podcasts. America has apparently recovered from (and quickly forgotten) about the E. Coli scare – the last one in a long series of food-borne disease outbreaks – related to packaged fresh spinach that at the end of 2006 caused vegetable sales to drop dramatically, more or less at the same time as the New York City and Chicago health authorities were debating whether they should introduce a legal ban on the use of trans-fats in restaurants.
The public at large, bombarded by the media with results from scientific research mixed with folk remedies, has a hard time making sense of new findings of the day, such as the supposedly beneficial effects of low-calorie life-long diets on aging, or the anti-inflammatory and life-prolonging properties of the natural compound resveratrol, found in grape skins and various berries. Free radicals and phytonutrients are battling to conquer consumers' imagination, while the food industry is busy making claims on all sorts of nutrients to market new products and boost sales. The Food Network in the U.S., UKTV Food in Britain, and the Gambero Rosso Channel in Italy have become mainstays for TV audiences, providing a daily feed