Food and Social Movements

Warren Belasco

in The Oxford Handbook of Food History

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199729937
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Food and Social Movements

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Social movements exist in three time zones—yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It is no surprising then that most people prefer to focus on matters of moment, especially when it comes to the food they eat, whose origins and consequences are far less immediate than the pleasures of the here-and-now. In this regard, food reformers are trying to complicate what is already a multifaceted process by which people choose what to eat. Daily food choices are determined in large part by an intricate consideration of taste versus convenience. Activists seek to impose a third, highly moralized and politicized factor to this interaction between taste and convenience: a sense of responsibility. When people experience bouts of intensified worrying, the archetypal stories about how they keep a plate clean are typically dusted off, only to be reissued later on. Eight of these storylines relate to the boycotter, the accountant or frugal parent, the survivalist, the yeoman farmer, the utopian communist, the pleasure artist, and the patriot.

Keywords: food; social movements; food choices; taste; convenience; responsibility; boycotter; survivalist; patriot; utopian communist

Article.  8925 words. 

Subjects: History ; World History

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