Those who can afford to, and people who work 9 to 5, can have regular family meals. But not shift workers, those working two or three jobs, or those who come from different cultural traditions. For those who have family meals, do conversations merely reflect cultural differences, or do these conversations actually help shape culture? Is this changing in a globalised world, in which communities are becoming more culturally diverse? View image of One of the biggest impacts on the family meal is the availability of convenience foods. What we eat at home reflects the availability of different types of food, and these do change with globalisation.
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But the two bigger impacts on the family meal are industrialisation and convenience foods. In many places, and in the US in particular, people can buy finished food and heat it up, so even if they are sharing a table, people may be eating different things at mealtimes. That is a big change. My student looked at food in workplaces, and one conclusion was — among academics in Denmark, at least — cake is a big thing. Everyone is talking about cake, while also trying to show themselves as healthy and good people. You name technology and the internet as major drivers of change in terms of food talk.
How are they changing things? This destroys the more easily obtained sociality around the meal, where we meet and eat the same thing together and thereby practice and create community. Eating disorders are a growing problem, and the line between a disorder and normal behaviour is getting blurred on an everyday level. You argue that the production and consumption of food is increasingly a morally loaded issue. What do you mean by that?
This is one area where industrialisation has had enormous influence on the way we speak about, and create value around, food. It got upended into a brand and co-opted by the corporate world. To turn things around, we have to make messages around food tastier and feed ourselves better language to get people to care again. I want to make healthy and sustainable food delicious, accessible and affordable.
And the trend of wanting to know where our food comes from will become more normalised. This adds to other differentiations in society, where one part of the population is seen as less morally healthy and less capable. This article originally appeared in Knowable Magazine, and is republished under a Creative Commons licence. Future Menu. What is BBC Future? Follow the Food. Future Now. Psychology Food The hidden significance of what we eat.
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