Chapter Nine
Food System Globalization,
Eating Transformations, and
Nutrition Transitions

Jeffery Sobal

In contemporary global history (Mazlish and Buultjens 1993), globalization is one of the most significant processes that will shape future historical developments. Globalization is the world-wide linkage and integration of previously local, national, and regional phenomena into organizational arrangements on a global scale. This process is more than simply internationalization because it involves global institutions and organizations that operate beyond the jurisdiction of national boundaries—and often outside the control of nation states (Robertson 1990). A variety of new global actors has emerged as a result, including global government bodies, nongovernmental organizations, corporate entities, media systems, and other institutions. An example of such an institution is the transnational corporation, which may originate or be headquartered in a particular nation state but which operates in the global system (Dicken 1992; Friedmann 1990; Wimberly 1991).

This chapter 1 will discuss the globalization of the food system and its relationship to eating transformations, nutrition transitions, and subsequent health outcomes. Many phenomena are involved in globalization, and multiple approaches to the topic exist (Featherstone 1990; McMichael 1996; Mittelman 1996; Schaeffer 1996; Sklar 1991). Several perspectives on globalization will be differentiated and applied in this chapter to issues surrounding food, eating, nutrition, and health. This presentation will use broad conceptualizations as analytical tools to portray large-scale patterns, recognizing that much variation and diversity occurs within overall trends and changes.

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