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Midterm Summary ” The Invention of Thanksgiving A Ritual of American Nationality in Counihaned Food in the USA”

An introduction of the reading, including the title and the name of the author(s).

In this article the author discusses how the Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving and the gruesome history behind that. Not everything was On the contrary, years later after the Civil War presidents decided to make Thanksgiving a national holiday to get rid of deity and celebrate the good times the good time with family eating turkey and other foods. This “holiday” Thanksgiving far more subtly expresses and reaffirm values and assumptions about cultural and social unity, about identity and history,about inclusion and exclusion. Thanksgiving is highly structured and emotional, with its celebration of family, home and nation.

A statement in your own words of the main argument(s).

The main argument of this article is to prove that Thanksgiving isn’t what we assume it to be, there is a whole history behind thanksgiving, it used to be a day of fasting and prayer, not just eating different people.

A brief description of the ethnographic examples or other evidence used to support the argument.

Pilgrims were the first people to celebrate thanksgiving the way it is today. The indians didn’t really know what thanksgiving truly was. All they knew was that they had to stick together otherwise they would be all dead.

A short discussion of the evidence: is it presented in a way that makes it clear how it is intended to support the author’s argument? Does it adequately do so?

For example, every household that considers itself American or desires to be consideredAmerican kas acknoledged what turkey day is, Thanksgiving brings family members back home, physically and emotion-ally, ritually transforming attenuated ties of kinship into a strong bond. TheThanksgiving feast charges the set of meanings incorporated in being or becoming anAmerican with the emotional intensity and significance of family. At the same time,Thanksgiving invests the value of family ties with an aura of religion and patriotism.

A short critical discussion of the text. For example: what does the author’s argument help us understand about the role of food in society? Why might the author be making this argument? What about the argument is surprising, or how does it contradict what is traditionally thought about food? In other words, if we assume the author has a reason for writing the article other than their own gratification, what might that reason be?

Food plays an important role in society. Without food variations, there is no various cultures. Without cultures, there is no civilization, there is no rituals or quality of life. The author is making this argument because thanksgiving wasn’t just a holiday to celebrate, it was a day to pray and be peaceful, no violence or no bad doing. Whats surprising about the argument was how thanksgiving came to be the way it is now.


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“Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat” by Eugene Cooper

The article “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat” by Eugene Cooper goes over the unspoken rules of Chinese etiquette. These rules changed by circumstance and changed based on time of day. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner all have different manner requirements. Cooper goes over the formal and informal ways of eating with others. These mannerisms are instilled into the Chinese culture and they are taught from when they are young. One must show respect for being given food. The guest has to show their interest throughout the meal and after as well. This constant engagement shows the host that their food and presence is appreciated. 

The meals’ structure is particular and changes based on time of day. The author explains that a basic meal structure must contain “fan (grain/rice) and ts’ ai (dishes)” (180). Rice, by itself, is not a meal, but the circumstance defines how it is eaten. The dishes can be meat or fish and they are considered common property (181). Anyone can take from the dishes, but they cannot show that they favor one dish over the others. When eating from the dishes, small portions are taken because if someone’s bowl is not empty by the time they are full, it is rude (181). In the U.S sharing is not common because meals are usually geared towards individual portions.

Cooper explains that it is customary to eat with a group even if it’s with strangers because eating alone is considered undesirable. This is the opposite of what is deemed acceptable in  America. People often eat alone because I feel that Americans are not as social as other countries. Breakfast is usually a quick meal people have to get on their way to work or school (182). Lunch is the first full meal of the day and is taken during lunch hour. The workers usually get together to eat and have rice with one dish. For this meal, one person pays for it and it is not split between the group (183). Dinner is commonly eaten at home. The ts’ ai from the previous day are served with the new ones. The home meal is less formal, but children must prove that they know how to act if it were a formal event.

Cooper was taught how to understand table etiquette from his wife. He believes that it is only fair to learn the basic rules of table manners when traveling to a different country. It is respectful and shows that you are interested in their culture (180). The table rules revolve around respect and showing you are interested. Shame and honor come into play and are explained in the video Chinese Dining Etiquette. By defying the rules, the host or hostess will be insulted and believe that you have no manners. 

Cooper, Eugene. 1986. “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat.”Human Organization 45 (2): 179–84.

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Queer Farmers: Sexuality and the Transition to Sustainable, Agriculture

In Isaac Sohn Leslie’s piece, Queer Farmers: Sexuality and the Transition to Sustainable,  Agriculture relationships surrounding the successful management of a sustainable farm are explored through sexual relationships. Critical engagement via participant observation and interviews, with 30 queer identified farmers from New England, facilitated the conversation that introduces insights around land acquisition, farming tasks and roles, along with reasons for choosing farmer as an occupation are discussed, from a queer and also arguebly anticaptalist framework.

When it comes to land acquisition, heterosexual norms are prevalent; land is either aquired from a husband or handed down from a previous generation. This can be troublesome for queer people; inner familial strife around sexuality may disqualify a queer person from acquiring land necesarry for farming. Queer farmers also opted to work on other peoples’ farms, preferably with another queer farmer. Shared sentiments, like the fear of experiencing heterosexism in overt terms, such as name calling or hate crimes, were held, yet the occurrence of these misjustices was not common and were often replaced with smaller microaggressions. These initial perceptions also seem to coincide with the problematic and generalizing ideology that queers escape drab homophobic rural life to become city dwellers, as a means to escape political and economical persecution. Heterosexism is seen to intersect with economical relationships, as the farmers who experienced heterosexist transgressions were often financially dependent on the offenders(coworkers, bosses, customers) to some degree. Gender expressions also explore the relationship between sex, gender roles, and economy, where code of dress and gendered work tasks gave more preference to an androgynous to masculine identity. This was recorded to be one of the reasons why masculine identified queer people graviated more towards farm life as an occupation. Job tasks leaned more towards manual labor and animal husbandry, which has been traditionally casted as tasks given out to cisgendered men. This creates a more gender fluid work environment than expected. Anti capitalist sentiments also were an important theme when discussing reasons why a queer person may want to engage in sustenance farming. The queer farmers shared an interest in dismantling systems of capitalism, while taking a grassroots approach, where farming quality organic produce takes precedence over mass production.

OUT HERE”— Queer Farmers | Reviews by Amos Lassen An example of queer farmers in gender neutral clothing, which is deemed appropriate for the work given, which can also be argued as masculine tasks (physical labor). 

I believe that the author gave a somewhat unbiased account. However, due to his own identity, along with the location of farmers being studied (New England), I do not think he gave much thought to how race plays a role in queer sustainable farming, unintentionally and effectively leaving the subject unexplored. It is a bit ironic, considering that the whole point of this article was to shed light on a population that was understudied due to being categorized as a niche subculture.

Works Cited

Leslie, Isaac Sohn. 2017. “Queer Farmers: Sexuality and the Transition to Sustainable Agriculture.” Rural Sociology 82 (4): 747–71.

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Observer, Critic, Activist: Anthropological Encounters with Food Insecurity” by Johan Pottier.

The article that I reviewed was Chapter 7 in “The Handbook of Food and Anthropology. Chapter 7 is titled, “Observer, Critic, Activist: Anthropological Encounters with Food Insecurity” by Johan Pottier. Throughout this article, the author was discussing the role that anthropologists play in human rights and activism and how that role has evolved over time. The author starts us off by going over the beginning of the other half of human rights: activism. By the time this phrase was used, many anthropologists urgently pushed their peers to take an active role in the communities that they observed (rather than sitting back and observing them from a distance)

I personally completely agree with this sentiment. If you look at the actual description of doing ethnography (which is the primary research tool anthropologists use) it’s pretty counterintuitive for you to refuse to take an active role advocating for the community. To do participant observation and ethnography correctly you have to get involved in the community, learn about the community, and become a part of the community for at least a year. So, for you to stand by and do nothing when the community needs help (or at the very least offer to give them help and let them decide if they want it) is very irresponsible.

Most of the examples potter uses to highlight this situation involves food insecurity, where he compares the way anthropologists it versus how other disciplines approached food insecurity. An example of this is when they were talking about Soil health in Mali. “The scientist were testing the soil to identify negative nutrient balances within the soil to see if the current farming practices were at risk” meanwhile the way that the “Mali people understood the land they were working on to be healthy and the way the food scientists were trying to explain the health of the land(soil nutrition levels) were based on two completely different things” ( Pottier,2016). Since these two groups weren’t on the same page, it became difficult to help them improve their living conditions. This is the reason why anthropologist is so necessary within activism. While other fields look for arbitrary things( like statistics or PH levels in soil) anthropologist’s tend to put the people in contexts to their position( where they’re located and their experiences)which  tended to explain the situation better.

Another big example of the anthropologist being an activist was when he was talking about the coffee farms in Kenya. After years of, “being mistreated, and not getting proper compensation, the women farmers on the coffee farms switched to corporate farms to receive better treatment. In the end, the women got joint custody on the farms” (Pottier,2016). As the text said, “simple binary ‘s are the things that dominate many of the language that is around activism right now” (Pottier, 2016). It’s either all good or all bad but they’re not looking at what caused the situation to get better or what caused the situation to get worse, or what kind of things were going on during them to influence this type of reaction. This all or nothing mindset was laid out in the passage, while people from other fields assumed that the women were being trapped by their oppressive husbands, it wasn’t until anthropologists got involved that the researchers started to understand that all the women really wanted were to have some ownership of the land they already worked on with their spouse. When anthropology is incorporated within research, it can bring a different lens to the scene and make us understand what’s going on in a deeper sense.

Overall, this was a great article. Before reading it, I didn’t really think about the fact that with many of these activist groups, they are heading into the county assuming that everyone understands the world the same way they do. They don’t want to accept that people they want to help may not see certain things as an issue, or not at a top priority. Without this argument that  Johan Pottier made we could end up looking to help people without a kind of holistic overview, and you will overstep and not actually help the people in the ways they need to be helped. So overall I feel like this is a powerful argument that proves how vital an anthropological lens is to activism.

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Summary of “Like An Extra Virgin” by Anne Meneley

The article “Like An Extra Virgin” by Anne Meneley expresses a conflict between olive oil enthusiasts and adversaries of the craze of olive oil. Meneley’s unbiased explanation of olive oil seeks to inform the reader of how the production and marketing factors into the world’s perception of the ingredient. She analyzes how the difference between industrial and artisanal olive oil can compare to the world’s view of it being ancient and natural. Meneley presents the idea of the “Mediterranean Diet” and how it is perceived to be a healthier and a purer form of eating. Olive oil falls into this “diet” because of its history and mythology, displaying it as a natural gift whereas in reality, this form of eating is truly good because of its prominence of its healthy fats. Meneley uses this idea to support her argument that people fall victim to the marketed portrayal of olive oil and lose sight of the real reason the food of that culture thrives. She further discusses how ideas like this boost the popularity of the ingredient throughout history, even in places where it wasn’t always easy to get. However, she is much more interested in the real reason olive oil is a gift and not so much why people wrongly think it’s a gift, that being that it still contains many health benefits. Her argument helps the audience understand the difference between industrial and artisanal olive oil. The key difference is being that artisanal, or what people would consider “extra virgin” olive oil, is made from over ripened and bruised olives. Olive oil in its natural state can be bitter and difficult to digest without undergoing chemically induced procedures that the public would view as industrialized and less natural. Industrialized olive oil also involves using machinery that makes the production of the product a more exact science and allows the producers to more consistently end up with a familiar result. Meneley does not see this process as a negative but instead as a necessary thing that has fallen into the negative stigma of “unnatural” because of branders and public perception. This directly challenges how someone may think of the ingredient and forces them to admit that olive oil, although highly regarded in the culinary world and within households, is not as special as people have been made to believe. She does not aim to discredit the ingredient but rather debunk its perceived “naturalness” and maybe have people to learn respect the food for what truly makes it good. Meneley states, “As in the case of wine, in olive oil discourses of connoisseurship, the agri-cultural, the technoscientific, and the aesthetic are brought together in one field.” (684). This shows the amount of care and small difference that go into creating and caring for olive oil. She respects the oil as much as people respect fine wine and is in no way undermining it, only looking for it to receive the attention it deserves for the reason it deserves. That is the heart of her article.  

Meneley, Anne. 2007. “Like An Extra Virgin.” American Anthropologist 109 (4): 678-87.

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“Time, Sugar, and Sweetness”

            Midterm Blog Post

Sidney Mintz discusses and illuminates the social, and economic history of the production as well as the consumption of sugar, mainly focusing his research on the United Kingdom. He analyses the frameworks that made sugar a first luxury which was consequently turned into a necessity. This change, in turn, propelled a revolution in people’s lifestyles, and diets, especially in the middle class during the rise of capitalism. He further argues that as a result of sugar’s history in the United Kingdom as well as the overall remodeling of the working class in the United States, and England, people have lost the control over which foods they should consume. Mintz further claims that the history of sugar closely aligns with the themes of control and conquest. As a result, slavery becomes an essential figure in sugar production.

Without slavery, plantation owners would not keep up with the high demand or even gain profit since supply would not have been able to keep up with the order. The high demand would have led to a decline in sugar prices which was not enough to make the working class adopt to their everyday diet during the peak of the industrial revolution. Mintz argues that sugar plantations can be classified as an early form of industrial revolution as well as an integral factor in the emergence of capitalism. The demand for sugar in the United Kingdom remained high despite its availability. However, initially, sugar was reserved for the royals as well as the nobles. This notion changed when the sugar prices drastically dropped, leading to percolation through other societies, eventually reaching the lower classes in the mid-1800 century.

As a result, ore people used sugar, leading to new uses and the modifications of older benefits. The percolation of sugar down the social classes created new modes of consumption, especially by the lower classes. For instance, they sweetened tea, coffee with sugar which was drunk daily by almost everyone. This norm marked a dietary revolution whereby the desire for sugar is not dictated by one’s preference but by cultural conventions. The rise of the Industrial Revolution as well as the introduction of new ingestible, meant that people were producing less food than they consumed. This trend was as a result of people working for longer hours; thus, most of their time was spent away from home, leading to a change in the type of foods they consumed. He carefully highlights that while the working class use of sugar may have been a class-attainment goal, the achievement was realized due to the government policies in place.

The changing consumption patterns can only be attributed to the change in the occupational and class structure of the overall society. Mintz claims that his research tries to understand the relationship between modern ways of advertising, and the early perceptions of sugar. In particular, he tries to analyze how the working people of the United Kingdom copied the consumption behaviors of the royals, and nobles to shift the demand of sugar, thus changing the history of sugar. Mintz concludes by arguing that to understand the interests of the world economy, one needs to understand the relationship between the particular economy, and all the external interdependent factors. These factors should embrace the studies of humble things such as food which should be viewed from the perspective of use, function, production, and consumption.

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Summary of “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat” by Eugene Cooper

“Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat” by Eugene Cooper talks about multiple table manners that Chinese people have depending on the location of where they eat. These social customs are considered the norm, and if they don’t do it, then their actions are considered disrespectful or rude. Copper writes this article based on personal experience and writing from other authors about the custom (180). These customs are very different compared to the traditions in the Western.

One of the main things in Chinese Culture is that it centers around rice;  if the rice is not included, it is not considered a meal (180). Compared to how it is in the US, most foods are considered part of a particular meal, depending on the time you eat it. This choice builds a standard on what should be in a meal. Secondly, their meal is focused on their guests and the people around them. For example, Cooper mentions that when sharing a common dish, one must only take enough so that everyone gets a similar portion (181). If someone were to take more than that would lead to that person considered rude. This also leads to another thing that is taught to children for them to consider having good manners.  Cooper quotes, “One very point of instruction from parents to children is that the best-mannered person does not allow co-diners to be aware of what his and her favorite dishes are by his eating pattern” (181). People learn from a young age to share and eat everything, not just what you like. This is a way not to dissatisfy your host. In the US, people have no custom like this. People eat what they want, and the host will either see or get told that a particular food is not good. Most Chinese culture is centered around showing respect to the host and the people eating with you. 

The way you interact with the food, plate, and utensil also presents how you are in Chinese culture. Usually, food is served in bowls, and chopsticks are used. When using chopsticks, Cooper explains that biting or sucking on them reflects poor manners (180). This is seen as disrespectful and gross. This is similar to when someone burps while sitting down at the table eating in the US. The way that bowls and chopsticks are used is not only to eat but also to show interest. When someone is done eating, it is custom to put the chopsticks down and wait for the others to finish before leaving the table(181). This is a way to show respect and not that you’re trying to leave or make everyone else hurry.  Lastly, bowls are also not allowed to touch the table while eating because it shows disinterest (180).  This is a form of the Chinese people understanding that food may not be good, which is seen as disrespectful since you’re never allowed to show to your host. In Chinese culture, if you don’t hurry your utensil and bowls properly, it may seem like you don’t have proper manners, and you could disrespect your host and people around you.

Chinese table customs focus on people not doing things, so they don’t disrespect the host and people around you. If they do those things, this can lead to people being viewed as not having proper manners or being disrespectful. This is very different from the customs in the US. People will be greedy about a particular food or tell the host or people around that certain foods are not good. The one thing in common that both Chinese and US culture have is the idea of not trying to disgust the people around you. 

Work Cited

Cooper, Eugene. 1986. “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat.” Human Organization 45 (2): 179–84.

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Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat

When thinking about food and the methods of preparing and preserving authentic food, it is important to understand all the aspects that go into it. In the reading, “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat”, author, Eugene Cooper discusses food habits especially through table manners. The author argues the presence of table manners as being incorporated into a symbolic order. Cooper explains three modes of understanding food habits. The first being taboos fulfil a practical positive function in adaptation to its habitat. The second being food habits represent a symbolic order. The third being food habits serve as social markers. He explains these habits to further argue that it is hard to see how table manners could be used in a positive symbol for adaptation, especially with such diverse world ethnography. His main argument is that culture, as seen through table manners, affects the way people eat thus giving room to his argument “you are what you eat.”
Eugene Cooper explains his argument by examining the table manners of the Chinese in comparison to other cultures. Although there are no specific guidelines to Chinese table manners, these manners present themselves in Chinese social structure. More importantly, the use of table manners explains “the way one handles oneself at the table gives off signals of the clearest type to most Chinese as to what kind of person one is (page 180)” Cooper primarily uses the Chinese table manners due to its vast rules. For the Chinese, the way a person eats and hosts ultimately defines who they are as a person which is one of the author’s main arguments. For example, when eating the young should defer from the old. In other terms, children may be excluded from the dining table until the adults have eaten or even be seated at a separate table. This is due to the social structure of respecting elders and adults. This also continues in the customs of the host. The host initiates the meal by picking up his chopsticks after each person has served a serving of rice, which is served by the host and accepted by the guest with two hands. The host then inquires if the guests are full which then allows them to leave the table unless they are the guest of honor. This is compared to the Cantonese, who feel uncomfortable leaving the table without completing their soup which is a part of each meal. The Cantonese in comparison to the Chinese have different aspects to their food such as always having soup in the meals while the Chinese always have rice in their meals. This also continues to the rules in serving with the Chinese having many more expectations from the host than the Cantonese do. The author uses this comparison to argue that “expectations as to appropriate comportment at the table will also vary with region of origin, age, and class position (page 181)” Each region has different preparation and expectation of food from one another. This guided his main question of how table manners could be used in a positive way through a population’s adaptation. Due to the region, the population adapts to their surroundings further aiding the culture that is built. Each culture has their own food culture that differs from others. By comparing the Chinese social structure as seen through table manner guidelines, it explains the title “you are what you eat.” Food structure is highly determined by culture which provides more than just food preparation expectations but further supplements all aspects of food culture including table manners.

Cooper, Eugene. 1986. “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat.” Human Organization 45 (2): 179–84.

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“Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat” Response

In Eugene Cooper’s “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat,” Cooper draws the lines of distinction between Chinese and Western eating practices and, further, what kinds of foods those practices stem from. Cooper states that, aside from dining etiquette differing culturally between Chinese and Western eating habits, Chinese food culture doesn’t have as much etiquette and “table manners” as Western society does to begin with. But once he starts discussing specific foods and their hierarchies within Chinese food culture, he shows that there is a more specific etiquette deeper than overall surface food practices seen more typically in Western food culture.

Cooper presents his evidence through qualification of individuals- he calls upon the knowledge of a friend of his who is a Chinese cuisine enthusiast to prove that table manners as Westerners know them don’t really matter in terms of Chinese history. He then says that his marriage to a Chinese woman and his past five years of field research and eating in Hong Kong qualify him to speak about this topic with more authority than others. In establishing his qualifications, he begins to break down the more intricate etiquette practices of Chinese cuisine.

Cooper uses two of three modes of understanding of anthropological literature of food habits to dissect Chinese food culture and etiquette- assuming that food habits “represent a symbolic order, generally reverberating sympathetically with other such orders in a given culture” (179) and assuming that “food habits serve as social markers with the expectation that rules of commensality will parallel rules applying to sex” (179). According to Cooper, the hierarchy of foods in Chinese cuisines do seem to maintain symbolic order, such as grains at the base, vegetables and fruits at the next level and are the “next least expendable” (180), and meats at the top, with fish just below it. There’s also order and hierarchy in meal preparation and consumption, both in terms of method and time. For example, since rice usually isn’t eaten during the morning meal, it isn’t really counted as part of a person’s daily meal intake- people, in that case, say they’ve had two meals a day instead of a Western three because rice is just that important to the cuisine. Communal eating and sharing from a plate is also a common practice and is a common difference between Chinese and Western food habits as Westerners typically have separate meals and plates. Along with sharing from a communal plate, how they share and eat food differs from how Westerners eat in terms of utensils- Chinese people employ chopsticks to pick food up and use them to eat, unlike Westerners who use things like forks and spoons. And in using chopsticks, there are more sub-rules to follow, such as once you put food in your bowl, you bring the bowl to your mouth to eat and you never bite or suck on your chopsticks, as that can be seen as insulting.

Cooper does a decent job at differentiating between Chinese and Western food habits and etiquette and in providing specific examples to prove the differentiation. I think he wanted to describe these cultural differentiations to show how anthropologically diverse food culture can be across the world and to just show readers a glimpse.

Cooper, Eugene. 1986. “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat.” Human Organization 45 (2): 179–84.

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Summary of “Time, Sugar, and Sweetness” by Sidney Mintz

In “Time, Sugar, and Sweetness” Sidney Mintz argues that there must be an evolutionary explanation for the preference towards sugar, and wonders if it is a natural desire. He explains that as the world population rapidly increased, the demand and desire for this new sweetness did as well. He writes, “as people produced less and less of their own food, they ate more and more food produced by others, elsewhere.” and it’s true. Commonplace meals in England were replaced with the new substance that was cheap and increasingly easy to access. The industrial revolution fueled a model for growth in the product and sugar became one of the first luxury items to be utilized into a marketing tool for some of the first ad campaigns.

Mintz contributes to his argument by looking back at the history of how sugar came into our lives and how it stayed. Sugar in its modern form has been around since the 8th century A.D. when it was only regarded as a rare spice and then the age of discovery in Europe flooded new substances, sugar being one of them, into the New World where the people will be first introduced to them. The usage of sugar trickled down from the royals, to the upper class, and down to the everyday man. It became a staple in European cities and rapidly gained in popularity and consumption and even English monarchs favored the rare spice and developed methods in which to afford more of it, including what we now know as jam. Sugar slowly changed its place as people of the 17th century expanded its uses into medicine and preservation. 

Before this introduction in the 17th century, people used honey and fruit to satisfy the desire for sweetness and now it’s sugar that took its place. I do believe it is a natural desire as he argues because we don’t need sugar to live. Sugar is just a substance that helps give our food taste and we find ourselves making it a part of our meals everyday for that extra comfort that we have become familiar with when consuming it. That coffee we tell ourselves that we need to have in order to function for the day? It’s this natural desire that makes us crave sugar and inserts into our daily routine without meaning to. Sugar grew rapidly in popularity, quadrupling its production in the last four decades of the seventeenth century and Mintz’s belief sounds accurate.

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Summary of “Broccoli and Desire” by Peter Benson and Edward F. Fischer

The article “Broccoli and Desire” by Peter Benson and Edward F. Fischer is about the growth and production of broccoli in relation to economic advantages, and consumer advantages by Maya farmers, and customer-consumers of broccoli. These relations are then tied into layers: morals, ambition, desire, and motivation interacting with broccoli, by the aforementioned people. 

Benson and Fischer open up this article by showing two examples of people interacting with broccoli in a way to clarify these deep connections. In one example a woman named Susan chooses to eat broccoli because of its healthy lifestyle, having been persuaded by the market of how healthy this food is. While in the second example a Maya farmer named Pablo is showcased. Pablo grows the traditional Maize and beans to support his family but he also dedicates part of his land to grow non-traditional crops (mainly broccoli), as a way to make more money as it is demanded by the market and the cash helps his family and pocket. These two examples are enough to make a connection from the desire for broccoli to the different layers about the production of broccoli. First off economic relation is tackled here because Pablo grows broccoli in an attempt to make more money, this money is reimbursed into his pockets which is put toward his family and even his farm. The economic relation of getting more money is intertwined with Pablo’s desire to grow broccoli. In this article, desire is defined as a strong feeling of wanting something, and the motivation to keep on going even when needs are being satisfied. Pablo isn’t poor and is doing alright, yet he still grows broccoli and even sacrifices some land of traditional crops for broccoli. He has a desire so big that he plays a dangerous game by growing non-traditional crops that could potentially lead him to fail. Susan is also affected by desire but also ambition as she wants to live a more healthy lifestyle. She wants to eat good and in the process of this, she desires broccoli. Her health-conscious desires are linked to her ambition to eat better, her personal morals, and furthermore, as a consumer, she benefits because the market produces broccoli year-round. 

This is what the authors are trying to show throughout the article-people from a vast population are all impacted by broccoli and have some sort of desire to interact with broccoli due to a layer of advantages, motivations, ambition, morals, and economy. Susan and Pablo are only a small piece to the bigger picture of people that desire broccoli. The reader is presented with two sides in order to showcase how one same product can leave all kinds of people wanting and needing a variety of things. The reader is presented with a person who seems to be so well off that she shops in the aisles of foods she considers “real food.” (Benson et al. 1) this is something that not everyone has the luxury of being able to do. Then a person who grows the same foods that the first person consumes is presented and is showcased as a person who has a real need for growing broccoli. Despite being on two opposite sides of the spectrum, both characters have desires and ambitions that drive them to do the things that they do. The author presents both perspectives in order to show the audience how in the broccoli trade, desire is common all around and it’s what drives both consumers and producers to partake in the trade. What motivates and drives said desire is the only thing that ever changes. Readers often hear only one side, whether it’s the consumers or the producers of course varies.

Benson, Peter, and Edward F. Fischer. 2007. “Broccoli and Desire.”Antipode 39 (5): 800–820.

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Summary of “On the Ideology of Nutritionism” by Gyorgy Scrinis

Over the course of many decades, individuals have continuously been taught to engage with food through the concept of Nutritionism. Nutritionism is defined as “a paradigm focusing on the Nutri-biochemical levels such as those of particular nutrients, food components, or biomarkers” (Scrinis 2008, 40). In the article titled, “On the Ideology of Nutritionism”, researcher Gyorgy Scrinis explores and identifies characteristics and consequences of nutritionism in terms of scientific research, dietary advice, food processing, and marketing. 

Scrinis argues that individuals continue to associate food and health in a way that is not beneficial to consumers, and instead benefits the food and nutrition industry. Having the readers understand that this general approach to food is not the only way one should take when it comes to the relationship between food and health is the author’s main goal in writing this article. 

When it comes to dietary advice on certain foods, the author makes it a point to put emphasis on the outdated knowledge we are continuously being fed. This way of thinking and approach to food has been around since the 19th century and has had little to no modifications. There has been an over simplification between the correlation in nutrients and food consumption. This, the author states, often makes it difficult and confusing for consumers to grasp an understanding on. 

Not only has oversimplification been a problem, but so has the labeling of certain nutritional facts. For example, labeling something a “good fat” and something a “bad fat” shifts the focus from a macro level to a micro level causing consumers not to be able to see how it impacts the body as a whole. Labeling and distinguishing fat through good and bad only focuses on a low-fat diet ( Scrinis 2008, 41). This then turns into a tactic that can be used by marketing companies to target people who are following this restriction. Weight loss industries prey on those who have continuously engaged with food through the nutritionism viewpoint. We constantly see foods with packaging that claims certain health benefits such as “low-carb”, “low-fat”, “sugar-free” etc. These phrases are usually printed in large fonts, right in the front of the food’s packaging. There is a reason why the Nutritionism approach to food and health hasn’t changed since the 19th century- it monetarily benefits large companies and corporations. The food industry thrives on the health-related labeling of products.

In contrast to the continuous “simplification” of nutrition, comes the reality of the complex understanding of the correlation with health and one’s body. Nutritionism is simply the outer layer of health, designed to shape the food industry. Scrinis does a great job of using the food industry as a way to approach his argument, as well as mentioning the involvement of certain food companies with the United States government. As Scrinis explores the historical concept of nutritionism, readers are able to see it’s false narrative. In reading the work of researchers such as Gyorgy Scrinis, one can evaluate and challenge customs and teachings that are taught to us from the very beginning.

Scrinis, Gyorgy. 2008. “On the Ideology of Nutritionism.” Gastronomica 8 (1): 39–48.

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Summary of “In Tastes, Lost and Found: Remembering the Real Flavor of Fat Pork” by Brad Weiss

 In the article, “In Tastes, Lost and Found: Remembering the Real Flavor of Fat Pork.”, by Brad Weiss discusses the significance of the taste of pork fat, and how important the taste is to people. Pork has its own distinct taste, in which that taste can mean something different to everyone. Additionally, pork can be a symbol for many things to each person, as it can bring  memories or past feelings to whomever has a taste of it. Weiss (2014) stated, “Evocation, recollection, and nostalgia are the canonical nodes of remembrance allied to eating” (p. 35). With this in mind, Weiss continues to explore what taste is and we describe the taste of pork.

          The author supports his discussion on the significance of pork fat by questioning what taste is and how it is important. Taste is a sensation and a form of being, as well as our mind and the world we live in (p. 37). When we eat something, that taste is linked to that day or what we were doing while eating. This also brings the idea that a particular meal, especially meat, can mean something different to each person, whether it be good or bad. This can apply to pork fat, as the author stated, “The very same meat sample, for example, can be described in some instances in the exact same terms.. but either preferred or rejected for those attributes” (39).

          Another argument the author makes is how an animal is raised or fed affects its taste. For example, Weiss (2014) stated, “The Danish Meat Association extols their industrial farms by reporting that chops from pigs fed a 100 percent organic diet have a more piggy and metallic odor than chops from conventionally fed pigs” (41). The author may be taking this into account, as it can affect our views on meat, especially meat. Some people may dislike pork that has a strong, “piggy” taste and can see that as a negative thing. One the other hand, some people may get their pork from pigs that were not fed an organic diet and may see it as a good or bad thing. Furthermore, if people from a particular town or neighborhood only receive pork that wasn’t fed this way, their views on pork can stay “one way” because that is all they know. The taste of pork is quite significant in a way that it is linked to people’s lives and their memories. It is possible the taste of pork and how pigs are raised can affect people’s health. The author’s argument on how important pork is brings up many questions on what different foods mean to us.

Weiss, Brad. 2014. “In Tastes, Lost and Found: Remembering the Real Flavor of Fat Pork.” In Fat: Culture and Materiality, edited by Christopher E. Forth and Alison Leitch, 33–51. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

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Summary of “On the Ideology of Nutritionism” By Gyorgy Scrinis

In the article “On the Ideology of Nutritionism.”, the author Gyorgy Scrinis informs us about the concept of what is the Nurtitionism Paradigm is and how it’s been used for many decades. He shares how nutritionism has become a problem in terms of its relationship with the Food industry and its marketed Products. He states that it has been taken advantage of and hasn’t been challenged enough, even among food and nutrition experts and institutions (pg.39). 

Scrinis begins his argument by discussing how the nutrition theory and our ways in food practices are commonly known to be confusing when it comes to understanding the basics of diet and health. The idea towards nutritional confusion was lead on because of how the food industry has undermined the understanding of it due to the simplification of it. He shares that nutritionism has incorporated different concepts that underpin our knowledge of how we should look at our food. It starts with reducing the nutritional biological functionality that determines the effects they give to your body. The labeling of these food products has taken the information of how the relationship that nutrition has to do with the body and instead replaced it with the concept of what’s considered to be “good and bad“ fat and uses it to instead qualify it as advice towards a diet that’s low fat (pg.41). Due to the reduction of accurate information when it comes to food and the body, the knowledge that consumers have when it comes to the labeling of food constructs a language barrier in what fits in regarding to accepting what they eat. These companies use that advantage to implement their outdated resources in how the nutrients in the food are being marketed through diet, production, and also re-engineering of it (pg.44). As the food industry promotes this ideology there marketing of these so-called “health foods” is seen to be consumed more often. Its claims of one-sided health benefits distract the buyers into not acknowledging the difference of what’s actually natural or artificial.     

   It is clear how Scrinis argues in this issue of how the practices of nutritionism have become the main source of how we think about the foods we eat. He shares how it should be more known that it looks to be facilitated more as a tool in the production and marketing of the food industry as a whole compare to our own benefits. Scrinis’s argument helps us understand more about the way that nutritionism has been misguided by allowing us to see that it’s true that we tend to follow the labels that these food industries present us within their simplified explanation of its benefits. He makes a good point in explaining that we are unaware of what’s being put in front of us and that needs to change. Scrinis states that policies of how these cooperations that provide us with this information need to be changed and that we ourselves need to change in this problem too in order to find the right engagement with our food and body. 

Scrinis, Gyorgy. 2008. “On the Ideology of Nutritionism.” Gastronomica 8 (1): 39–48.

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Summary of “Queer Farmers: Sexuality and the Transition to Sustainable Agriculture” by Isaac Sohn Leslie.

In “Queer Farmers: Sexuality and the Transition to Sustainable Agriculture,” Isaac Sohn Leslie discusses the understudied role that sexuality and heteronormativity play in agriculture and the way the queer community is affected by this lack of research. With a rise in the sustainable agriculture movement, there is also the need to uphold romantic heterosexual relationships as the primary vehicle in enabling the recruitment and retainment of sustainable farms. As such, queer people are often ignored as potential farmers in this industry – this is what Leslie seeks to research and discuss. The traditional model of the “family farm” is being reshaped with the expansion of industrial agriculture. Due to this growth, the sustainable agricultural movement is constantly trying to build alternatives to industrial agriculture because of its negative environmental, economic, and social effects. But, it is largely overlooked whether or not food systems based on the “family farm” are sustainable. Discussing this sustainability cannot be done without researching the heteronormativity built into it, along with exploring alternative conceptions of farm families. Although there is a rise in women farmers, Leslie discusses that based on previous research it is clear that there are still gender inequalities in sustainable farming. For example, land acquisition is one of the largest barriers to overcome when becoming a farmer, but is an incredibly gendered process. Research shows that most women sustainable farmers obtain land through marriage and with the help of a husband – upholding the “family farm” model.

Leslie contributes to this argument by providing their own ethnographic research conducted through participant observation and interviews. The authors’ sample consisted of 19 queer and 11 heterosexual sustainable farmers from New England. The evidence provided shows hardships that queer farmers face in regards to interacting with people within their rural communities and acquiring land, but it also showed the positive effects that farming had on the gender expression of many queer, trans, and women farmers. For example, one of the interviewed subjects discussed that they were too nervous to even go up to fellow farmers at a farmers market in efforts to build connections, because of the expected heterosexism they feared encountering. Other farmers discussed experiencing constant microaggressions such as misgendering and getting asked about romantic partners by fellow farmers but having to ignore it in order to maintain these relationships to continue in the farm industry. Acquiring land was also something that proved difficult, but the queer farmers found their own alternatives such as getting land funded by the lesbian separatist movement, or if they were lucky enough like three of the subjects, their families. Many of the women, queer, and trans farmers did positively note the way in which farming has a gender-neutral attire that makes them feel more comfortable and even allowed them to come to terms with their own sexuality and gender.

Sustainable agriculture is a huge movement that is on the rise, and so is the LGBTQ+ movement. As Leslie discusses, these two movements go hand-in-hand and affect each other. Creating a more queer-inclusive environment may help to expand the sustainable agricultural movement by attracting queer individuals who may not feel represented in the mainstream LGBTQ+ movement. Having the input of lived experiences from both queer and heterosexual farmers gives great insight to us individuals who have no idea what the sustainable farming business is like. It is important to note the process of getting started and retaining a farm in sustainable agriculture when people come from all different backgrounds, especially with the movement growing in popularity.

Leslie, Isaac Sohn. 2017. “Queer Farmers: Sexuality and the Transition to Sustainable Agriculture.” Rural Sociology 82 (4): 747–71.

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Queer Farmers: Sexuality and the Transition to Sustainable Agriculture by Isaac Sohn Leslie – Critical Analysis

In the article “Queer Farmers: Sexuality and the Transition to Sustainable Agriculture” by Isaac Sohn Leslie, the author discusses the importance of preserving sustainable agriculture as our generation continues to expand on food innovations. Meanwhile, the LGBTQ+ community continues to battle inequalities that are present today with one of them being the gendered barriers in farming. The ongoing patterns in sexualized and heteronormative ideals in the working space limits the ability of Queer farmers to contribute in this ongoing effort. The author argues how these actions have largely affected the recruitment and retention of sustainable farmers as well as affecting land acquisition that is needed for the agricultural movement. With these problems in mind, the author pushes for reform by placing gender-neutral practices instead. This will open opportunities for many Queer farmers as well as other LGBT farmers to continue doing their part in sustainable agriculture.

An experiment is conducted by the author to proves this point by having LGBTQ+ farmers and heterosexual farmers participate. Although the author’s main focus is on Queer farmers, other farmers with different sexualities or identities were invited in order to note the similar struggles shared amongst Queer farmers. The experiment revealed a similarity between women and Queer farmers when it came to how they were drawn into farming in the first place. The gender-neutral clothing worn by farmers as well as the skills needed to master a farm have allowed them both to have a sense of freedom on who they are as a person. This is because farming techniques have challenged the gender norms and proved that anyone is worthy of running a farm. As a woman farmer describes it, “We were so free…being out on the farm, being able to do all those things that we did. We could teach. The range of activities we had. The amount of skills that we could do” (Leslie, 761). This created the independence and skills needed to become their own boss of their farms without having any labels being placed on them

The data collected also found that LGBTQ+ farmers have regularly dealt with heterosexist remarks while working. Drew, a trans farmer, explains how he is constantly misgendered during his job, “I don’t correct people… When it comes down to it, at the end of the day I’m trying to sell my vegetables” (Leslie, 759). This gives an insight as to how heterosexism has affected the ability for LGBTQ+ farmers to be a part of the agricultural movement , they are treated with disrespect by consumers who fail to identify them correctly. This can be a reason why many LGBTQ+ farmers departure from the workforce. At the same time, however, these farmers bring a positive trait to the workforce as they put the relationship of the farm and people first.

Along with having the strength to run a successful farm, the experiment also revealed the political ideologies behind LGBTQ+ farmers. Queer farmers, for example, are known to use anti-capitalist language to describe the need for sustainable agriculture. Doris, a queer farmer describes, ” the values that are so beautiful that started this country have been over-ruled by the greed of corporate expansionism….” (Leslie,762). In this case, the understanding of how capitalism has deeply affected agriculture through corporate greed has influenced a queer farmer to continue with their work. It is unclear whether or not it was their motive to begin with, but it’s interesting to see how wise and determined they are in creating food innovations.

Leslie, Isaac Sohn. 2017. “Queer Farmers: Sexuality and the Transition to Sustainable Agriculture.” Rural Sociology 82 (4): 747–71.

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Summary of WOMEN AND FOOD CHAINS: THE GENDERED POLITICS OF FOOD By Patricia Allen and Carolyn Sachs

In WOMEN AND FOOD CHAINS: THE GENDERED POLITICS OF FOOD Patricia Allen and  Carolyn Sachs details the topic of the politics of food through connecting it to gender. The main arguments the author makes are gender and how it’s connected to the agrifood system. This article answers the three questions of how the subordination of women and sublimation of feminist consciousness in relation to food has been engaged and explained in agrifood and feminist scholarship?, we ask what are the configurations of food-connected gender relations?, and what actions are being taken to change gender relations in the agrifood system?. A brief description of the ethnographic examples used to support this argument is shown within the four sections of the article.

The first section of the article titled “Theorizing the Connections between Gender and Food” discussed how advertising and media play a role in eating disorders within women. Also this section discusses how women hold the powerful role of being the one who feeds the family. Lastly, how women buy food the most according to statistics. The second section of the article titled “Resistance and Feminism” discussed the struggles women farmers face such as being seen insignificant by other farmers. The third section of the article titled “Domains of Gendered Relations in Food” discussed the census results of women farmers and how the results show the agrifood system is male dominated. The fourth section of the article titled “Working against homeostasis” discussed the changes made to make farming a less male dominated agrifood system.  

The evidence is presented in a way that makes it clear on how it is intended to support the author’s argument because each section connects back to the author’s main argument. It adequately does so by using examples. The author’s arguments help us understand that food works by connecting it to gender in a political way. The author might be making this argument because it is a modern issue that men are more recognized in the agrifood system then women. Something the argument is surprising or that contradicts something traditionally thought about food is that femininity has relation in the agrifood system . This article relates to an article titled  The Gendered Politics of Farm Household Production and the Shaping of Women’s Livelihoods in Northern Ghana by A. Atia Apusigah because it discussed “within that gendered space, resource-sharing disadvantages women who are expected to look up to male authorities for support and provisioning” (54) and in the agrifood system women have to do the same thing. 

Apusigah, A., 2020. The Gendered Politics Of Farm Household Production And The Shaping Of Women’S Livelihoods In Northern Ghana.Rosa,

Allen, Patricia, and Carolyn Sachs. 2007. “Women and Food Chains: The Gendered Politics of Food.” International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food 15 (1): 1–23.

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Broccoli and Desire – Robert Vasquez

“Broccoli and Desire” by Peter Benson and Edward Fischer highlights how farmers and consumers are interdependent on each other. The authors are able to explore this relationship through the production of broccoli and its connection to the concept of desire. It’s important to note that desire itself is the culmination of cultural, societal, and economic expectations. The authors provide a multitude of examples to show how desire influences farmers to push themselves.  On this topic, the authors write: “The concept of desire locates economic preferences not in a sovereign subject but in a local world where behavior embodies shared moral values. Why people do what they do is not simply a matter of rational decision-making and the pursuit of self-interest; it is also the outcome of cultural logics that are internalized over time” (803). This suggests that “desire” is ingrained in every individual, likely due to the way society conditions people to strive after certain goals. In addition, it shows that people’s actions are shaped by their values. Consumers who value a more healthy diet will seek to fulfill this goal by purchasing vegetables such as broccoli. Unknowingly, they create a demand for these products which informs the decisions of farmers. Farmers, on the other hand, have their own values and goals. Many seek to accumulate wealth and will attempt to produce more than what is needed. As long as there is a market and a demand for their crops, farmers will continue to push themselves beyond what is necessary.

The notion of desire is further exemplified by the fact that broccoli is sold year round, despite the fact that there are optimal time periods for growing it. What makes this process even more difficult is the extremely short period of time farmers have to grow broccoli. For instance, in Tecp´an, farmers will have a time period of fewer than 90 days in which planting and harvesting broccoli is possible (804). On top of this, broccoli does not last very long. Clearly, the conditions are not ideal, meaning that they might have an easier time growing other crops but they choose to produce broccoli anyway. The notion of desire is displayed here because it shows how farmers will take countless risks to ensure their broccoli is sold. Consumers are significant to this process because they seek to purchase broccoli regardless of what time of year it is, meaning that there is a demand for broccoli year round. Farmers who do not capitalize on this will miss out on an entire market. In this sense, consumers encourage farmers to take risks in order to have their demands fulfilled. Farmers then provide in order to work towards the things they value.

The authors further expand on the concept of desire by using a specific broccoli farmer as an example. The farmer, named Batz,  sees a downward trend and even has neighbors go out of business as a result. In describing Batz, the authors state: “He comes across as someone who is an active agent of his and his community’s future. He hopes that revenues can be used to enhance the local educational and economic infrastructure and in political organizing at the regional and national levels” (813). Despite the fact that his work was not yielding good results and other farmers stopped entirely, he continued to export. While it could be easier to quit, his desire to benefit his community fueled his decision to continue working harder. By putting in more work, Batz feels he can make the best products and potentially reach more consumers, benefitting his business as well as those around him in the process.

This text is striking because it challenges the reader to see the foods people take for granted and really think about where they come from. While it might sound melodramatic, the choices we make when purchasing produce greatly affects farmers. What direction farmers choose to take lies in the hands of consumers. What is popular and financially viable will fuel the desires of farmers. Both the consumer and the producer are monumental in keeping this laborious economic system in place whether or not they realize it.

Benson, Peter, and Edward F. Fischer. 2007. “Broccoli and Desire.” Antipode 39 (5): 800–820. Mintz, Sidney W. 2013. “Time, Sugar, and Sweetness.” In Food and Culture: A Reader, edited by Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik, 3rd ed., 91–103. New York: Routledge.

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Summary of “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat” by Eugene Cooper

The topic that I chose for this blog post is identity and difference, and the reading that I chose is called “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat” This reading is published by Eugene Cooper, in 1986. As I started breaking down this reading, I read about the differences in table manners between Chinese and Western Cultures. Also, things that are considered taboos in Chinese culture, are how we do things in western culture, and vice versa. An example, in western culture, we usually have 3 meals a day as a full day’s worth of eating, and “when Chinese speak of a full day’s eating fare, it is two square meals per day rather than three.” (180)

Another point that I found interesting was when the author said that Chinese people pick up the food bowl to push the food into their mouth with chopsticks, and how leaving the bowl on the table is an insult to the host. I think this is the total opposite from how I eat at least, for example eating steak with a fork and knife, we leave the plate on the table. Also, I read about how a rice bowl should be accepted with two hands, and to accept with one hand shows disinterest. I think the author made these points clear and accurate, and I know about the two hands rule by experience, because in Chinese culture you have to accept all items and give all items using two hands, including food.

The author makes his points and argument very clear, about the differences between western and Chinese culture. Another example he used is “In contrast Western etiquette in which toothpicks are never used outside the privacy of one’s room (McLean 1941: 63), toothpicks are provided at most Chinese tables and it is not impolite to give one’s teeth a thorough picking at the table.” (181) The author’s argument helps us understand how language works by showing distinct examples and differences between western and Chinese table manners. Language is not only spoken by your tongue; it is also translated through your body.

Some of the examples the author used are most definitely surprising in the way that they contradict what we traditionally thought about food, and table manners. I read about how many Chinese restaurants have “spittoons” to spit out contents of food and waste water and tea, and if spittoons aren’t provided, the floor is “fair game”. I can’t imagine that happening in western culture. I believe if the author had a specific reason to write this article, it would be as simple as just providing information, and showing how different table manners can be in a different culture, not just Chinese culture.

Cooper, Eugene. 1986. “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat.” Human Organization 45 (2): 179–84

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Summary of “On the Ideology of Nutritionism” by Gyorgy Scrinis

In the article “On the Ideology of Nutritionism.” Gyorgy Scrinis seeks to inform readers on how nutritionism works; by providing the reader with a basic overview of concepts and terms in order to challenge the public’s current understanding of nutritionism. 

Gyorgy Scrinis states that the current  public approach of Nutritionism is “the understanding of food in terms of nutrients” (Scrinis, 2008, p. 39) Scrinis believes that this “ideology” of Nutritionism is overly simplified and at times crude. This glorification of nutritionism has become the basis of the public’s understanding of food in relation to their health and body. Scrinis says that this ideology of nutritionism has not only been encouraged by “the nutrition industry” but has become a marketing tool for the food industry. 

Nutritionism has become a tool of manipulation because it “incorporates a number of forms of reductionism with respect to nutrients, foods, and diets.” (Scrinis, 2008, p. 40) Since the ideology of nutritionism is reductive this negatively shaped the way people contextualize and evaluate food in regards to their health and body. This hyper fixation on nutrients is considered acceptable and even necessary when people “evaluate the quality of food” (Scrinis, 2008, p. 41) and their health because of the “several decades of nutrition education campaigns.” (Scrinis, 2008, p. 39). What people fail to understand is that nutrition and health are more complex than they think. 

This is a way people have sort of been brainwashed into believing in the ideology of nutritionism because there is a disconnect between the science of nutrition and “the practicalities of translating this scientific knowledge into meaningful dietary advice,” (Scrinis, 2008, p. 41) Scrinis states that in trying to highlight the importance of nutrition in our dietary health has resulted in the reductive nature of nutritionism. So there is a limitation to the public’s knowledge of nutritionism because the public lacks the understanding of nutrition science and the language of nutrition science.

Scrinis brings up the fact that despite how confused the public may be by nutrient science, the ideology of nutritionism can be “characterized by a sustained and confident discourse of precision and control.” (Scrinis, 2008, p. 42) Gyorgy Scrinis says that the general public is convinced to believe that there’s only one way to encounter food because the ideology of nutritionism again relies on the oversimplification of nutrients, foods, and diets.

The ideology of nutritionism as a whole is misleading because it wants the public to think of the quality of their food and health in regards to just nutrients. This very narrow mindset makes the general public unaware of their ignorance but also the manipulation by the food industry. Instead of having this ideology of nutritionism, the general public should have more of a holistic approach to the quality of their food and health. The general public must come to realize that nutrients, foods, and our dietary health should not be overly simplified, Scrinis’s thoughts on nutritionism is further supported by this article by Monica Mo.

Scrinis, Gyorgy. 2008. “On the Ideology of Nutritionism.” Gastronomica 8 (1): 39–48.

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Summary of “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat” by Eugene Cooper

In “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat,” Eugene Cooper discusses the customs and etiquette in Chinese dining. Cooper details the contrasts between the traditional behaviors while eating in China and Western eating. He talks about how there are many etiquette differences between the two cultures such as how hostess show their respect, greeting, banquet, and table manners. His five years of experience researching Chinese habit and custom has helped him with this assignment. He was also married to a Chinese woman for eight years. She taught him all about Chinese table manners. 

Cooper also used people who had experience of both Chinese and Western rules. They detailed every little thing that a Chinese person is expected to do at the table. They have certain expectations because at the table a person is observed on how they handle themselves, and this will let others know what kind of person they are, such that in China people are expected to have good manners because they are all about families and communities. In contrast, western cultures are based on individualism rather than collectivism. For example, a typical Chinese dining table is round or square. A variety of dishes would be laid in the center so that they all could share them. These dishes are called ts’ai, in contrast everyone is given a bowl of fan, which is rice. This bowl is private to everyone because it comes directly in contact with the mouth. However, the chopsticks are of both the mouth and the table. When eating from the bowl of fan, if a person shows no interest in the food. This will show to the host that they are being disrespectful. It is also disrespectful when someone does not finish all their food. Therefore, as a guest you must always take small portions of food so that the bowl can be seen empty at the end of the meal (181).

Moreover, westerners find certain Chinese behaviors very different from their own. They believe that toothpicks shouldn’t be used in public (181). However, in China when dining in a restaurant, toothpicks are provided and it is acceptable to use it in public. Such beliefs can bring disagreements between cultures. Therefore, this is why Cooper believed that when you travel to a different country, you should learn about their table manners (180). He believes it is important to know other cultures’ table manners because this will avoid any disagreements between the different cultures. Also, since Chinese people are all about showing respect for one another. If you learn about their customs, it will show to them that you are being respectful.

Cooper, Eugene. 1986. “Chinese Table Manners: You are How You Eat.” Human Organization 45 (2): 179–84.

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Summary of “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat” by Eugene Cooper

Western civilization usually has an influence over the entire world. Traveling across lands and seas, the baggage that the West carries is filled with behaviors and beliefs. Some of these will get lost at sea, but that doesn’t mean other countries won’t be able to compensate with similar items of their own. Eugene Cooper, author of “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat,” gives a glimpse into the world of Chinese culture and it’s traditions on etiquette at the dinner table. While trying to find out what is the proper etiquette when dining at the table in Asian culture, Cooper wants to also get a sense of how his wife was raised. An ethnography for the sake of educational purposes and good food.

Before reading this article by Cooper, I had no knowledge about Chinese dining etiquette. All I knew was fried chicken being served to me in Styrofoam plates and carrying my take-out meal back home in the infamous “Have a nice day” plastic bag with the smiley face. Although, now that I think about it, when I worked at a Japanese store last fall I noticed that my Japanese coworkers show resemblance in eating as described by Cooper in the reading. In no way am I saying they are the same, but it is no shocker there are similarities in eating since China and Japan are near one another. From what I saw, I noticed a lot of bowls to the mouth, usage of chopsticks and spoons for the broth and rice mixtures, tons of meat, and appreciation for the chefs who made the food for the team. This visual representation becomes engraved in my memory more than any pamphlet that tries to teach me about the do’s and don’ts of Chinese etiquette. 

In the article, Cooper states there are three modes that can help better understand the anthropological literature of food habits in the Chinese culture. I will only be discussing the second mode as it ties in with the dining etiquette. In the article, Cooper says, “The second [mode] assumes that food habits represent a symbolic order, generally reverberating sympathetically with other such orders in a given culture.” (179). This is linked to social hierarchy in the Chinese society because the way you carry yourself in the dining room can go a long way with you in life. Bringing this back to the similarities I witnessed from my old job, scooping food into your mouth while the bowl covers your face does not seem the most hygienic or polite thing to do at a dinner table. People already struggle enough with chewing with their mouths closed. This behavior represents the status of the Chinese people. I believe this is an effect from centuries ago when there was a food scarcity in China; therefore, dining etiquette was the least important thing to worry about when in the presence of food.

There is a basic structure to eating in the Chinese culture. While being heavily family-oriented, this is not limited to blood relatives. For instance, many of the restaurants are inhabited by groups of friends and co-workers who want to share a moment in life together while eating delicious food. During these occasions, the food is prepped in a way where everybody can grab what they want off of one plate. While the risk of getting sick due to germs being spread from saliva onto the food, this act goes to show respect and love for one another. To share a meal means you look at the group as family and a bond is created. Sadly, things are beginning to change as Cooper states that a Communist party secretary, Hu Yaobang, has “called attention to the unsanitary character of traditional Chinese eating habits and urged change.” (180). This does not sit well with Chinese natives because it implicates the West having an influence on their tradition; in which it demonstrates ethnocentrism. 

Dining etiquette can be taught to us but that does not mean we’ll always use it. In China, dining etiquette is a social marker. It builds character while also having the power to destroy the reputation of somebody that does not follow the rules. Often used in public settings or when surrounded by our family/peers, it helps establish a bond that we may not have expected would exist. Still very different from the Western dining etiquette, China still practices some misogyny since the men are expected to eat first while the women eat second and are the ones usually serving the meals. So, it wouldn’t be too far off saying that the United States of America and China have more in common than expected.  

In conclusion, Cooper takes us along his journey to understanding what exactly makes Chinese dining etiquette so special. This is not enough to truly get the full understanding, but it is a start and easy to read. One question remains, how exactly are the Chinese and other Eastern countries adjusting their dining etiquette with Covid-19 happening? Of course, everybody in the world is taking a mental toll from not being able to have social gatherings like before the pandemic. This can only lead to change and it will be exciting to see just what the new generation of Chinese natives will bring to the table in the future. Instead of following proper etiquette, we should try adjustments that will respect everybody’s decisions at the dining table.

Works Cited

Cooper, Eugene. “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat.” Society for Applied Anthropology, https://via.hypothes.is/https://anth2140.commons.gc.cuny.edu/wp-content/blogs.dir/13216/files/2020/10/Cooper-1986-Chinese-Table-Manners-You-Are-_How_-You-Eat.pdf

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Summary of “Struggling for the future in the Age of Trump” by Neubert Chrsitopher

In the article, 2 Slaughterhouse Politics: “Slaughterhouse Politics: Struggling for the Future in the Age of Trump.”by Chrsitopher Neubert; the author talks about how after Donald Trump was elected as president racism was one of the main causes of agriculture and racism clash. One of the main examples the author uses is the Prestage slaughter house. The author uses the Prestage slaughterhouse conflict to discuss ideas such as race and geopolitics. 

The Prestige slaughterhouse was initially supposed to be built in Iowa, Maison City in 2016. However, an opposing party in the city started to protest the slaughterhouse. They gave reasons such as the slaughterhouse would cause more contamination to the city and would clog the waterways with manure and fertilizer. Although these were the reasons stated, Prestage farms believed racism was the main concern. Many residents of Maison city had voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. They did not want Latino immigrant workers to come into the city. Because of all the tension and back and forth, Prestige farms decided to move their farm to Eagle Grove which would not be as profitable for their business if they stayed in Maison City. This example shows that after Donald Trump was elected president, people were more outwardly racist, they drove away a business that would have benefited their economy simply because they did not want immigrant laborers. 

In the next part of the article, the author gives us another example of the Kosher Agriprocessors Plant was built in Postville Iowa, Postville Iowa was a small town and the town was predominantly represented by white people.  The factory started hiring Guatemalan immigrants twenty years ago and that is one of the main reasons they were so successful. Postville Iowa was a small town and the town was predominantly represented by white people. Like Postiville many small towns started hiring Latino immigrants because they were cheap labor and they would work long hours. However, even though they worked very hard, the white bosses and white community treated them as second-class citizens. Some of them don’t speak well enough so they have to end up staying in the job since no one else will be hiring them. But in 2008, Agriproccesers were given a reality check, Ice had arrested 389 immigrant workers. After the arrest the agriprocessors plant could not keep afloat, they eventually had to file for bankruptcy. This example shows that white communities need the help of other races to keep society going however, because of their superiority complex they cannot admit it. 

What was most surprising about this article was the way the author connected meat and race. The language of the author using food with politics. It was interesting to see how he took the slaughterhouse event and connected to race. He brings out how having these slaughterhouses helps the white communities to realize ways of changing their thoughts on societies. Even though, white people fear that it will displace their culture, immigrants still make the society more cultural and diverse. The author indicates that the interconnected social and geographical patterns that have structured the daily lives and environments of those people most closely identified with food production must also be included in any consideration of the future of food and agriculture.The focus of this review is not to criticize those protestors who opposed the Prestage plant in Mason City, but instead to recognize how efforts to securitize white privilege would persist in debates about the future of food and agriculture in societies written as white for decades. The author made these connections between social and geographical to show how people use food production. The points he made in his article are valid and made me look at the situation through a different lens. It gave me perspective of how the author connected food to this topic of race. It was interesting to see the correlation between food and how keeping the society diverse with immigrants. 

Work Cited:

Neubert, Christopher. 2020. “Slaughterhouse Politics: Struggling for the Future in the Age of Trump.” In The Immigrant-Food Nexus: Borders, Labor, and Identity in North America, edited by Julian Agyeman and Sydney Giacalone, 41–58. Cambridge: MIT Press.

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Summary of “Broccoli and Desires” by Peter Benson and Edward F. Fishcher

The article “Broccoli and Desire” by Peter Benson & Edward F. Fischer  (2007) focuses on the connection and political, economic power during the movement of broccoli from Nashville, Tennessee supermarkets to Maya farmers in highland Guatemala. The authors’ principal argument is that the sale of broccoli in the world market is driven by the improved habits of western culture and the desire to make profits by broccoli producers in Maya (Benson & Fischer, 2007).  Both parties’ desires play a crucial role in controlling the market forces that determine the sale of broccoli in the global arena. The sale of agricultural products depends on the relations between Maya farmers and American consumers with a significant desire from both sides, the producers and shoppers.

The authors investigated the theory of economic desires, which is influenced by the needs and wants of individual households, local connections, and global forces. They established a connection between the basic wants of both parties and the supply chain that ends up with western consumers enjoying broccoli and improved incomes for Maya farmers. Benson & Fischer (2007) are interested in knowing how the combination of farming agencies in Maya, and the local supply triggered by international demand for their products can sustain the international market for agricultural products (Benson & Fischer, 2007). They use the supply chain to show how neoliberal reforms and modern agriculture enhance particular community values despite emerging risks and inequalities.

Benson & Fischer (2007) support their claims by providing ethnographic evidence in a detailed and organized manner to help readers understand the supply chain. They begin by introducing the audience to the concept of economic desires, which are integral in the flow of goods from Maya to the west. The desires consist of a combination of the intentions of different stakeholders in the market, both locally and abroad (Benson & Fischer, 2007). They show the connection between the individual goals and other forces, aside from the primary producers and consumers. The theoretical and political factors associated with non-traditional agriculture are viewed as an advantage or a disadvantage to the process in the global market (Benson & Fischer, 2007). The evidence achieves its purpose, as the reader can interact with elements in the supply chain right from where the goods are produced to the final consumers. 

The authors’ argument helps to understand the factors that determine the demand and supply of broccoli. They aimed to dismantle the belief that exploitation could be one reason the trade is flourishing. The only awkward part of the argument is the evidence of how fundamental interests of individual farmers and households could trigger such a complicated chain running beyond country borders. The argument contradicts the traditional thought that trading on food substances is just a simple web mostly triggered by greedy consumers or producers.     

The secret to staying young is broccoli and cabbage - MarketWatch

The picture shows how farmers achieve the desire to make more income while the exportation of broccoli is increasing thus promoting the consumers’ desires.

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“Food and culture” Reading summary

As human beings the food that we eat changes over time, new lands are found with new vegetation, new spices, and new ingredients. Especially now when globalization is stronger than ever, it’s now easier for cultures to co-exist with others and easier for  outside individuals to take part in different cultures. The article “Food and Culture” by Sidney W. Mintz, speaks about the period of the expedition introducing new and different variations of food to the European people and the effects that the discovery of these products had on them. The author also looks at the negative effects that this has changed many families’ eating lifestyle. For instance Mintz explains, “During and after the so-called Age of Discovery and the beginning of the incorporation of Asia, Africa, and the New World within the sphere of European power Europe experienced a deluge of new substances, including foods”(Counihan pg 91). In other words this was a brand new era, an era that forged the world that we have today.She even speaks about the creation of capitalism and how it helped the spread of different foods. Mintz uses many examples throughout her article however, she focuses mainly on the production of sugar. Her main goal for the article was to show the reader the history of sugar and how it has changed over time.

During the beginning of colonization, food/resources deported to European countries were fairly low, however when the enslavement of the African people began production grew abundantly. Many European individuals knew the rise of production was because of slave labor Mintz quotes Carl Marx who dsecribes slavery as the “chief momenta of primitive accumulation”. Marxs goes on further by stating, “without slavery, no cotton; without cotton, no modern industry. Slavery has given their value to the colonies; the colonies have created world trade”  (Mintz pg 94). Though the history of slavery angers many individuals Marx acknowleged  that slave labor was what created a massive change in cultures. In other words slavery took the production and trade of sugar to a different level.  Enslaved individuals from Africa were sold for cheaper and stronger labor and the Europeans took advantage of that.  When sugar was first introduced to the European countries it quickly became a favored taste. At first, it was looked at as medicine or used to sweeten medicine, but only limited to the rich. However, when African slaves began to farm, sugar canes grew abundantly thus  quickly becoming a part of Europeans daily use. The consumption of sugar grew four times as great in the seventeenth century. Sugar is and was used for coating, adding volume or texture, it can also be preservative and used as an antioxidant. Mintz even illustrates how sugar took the place of honey in the diet of British citizens, allowing readers to understand how sugar can be used for many things.

Towards the end of the article Mintz speaks about how some of the food discoveries created laziness in the household. She uses jam as an example of how modern society has become “Lazy” because jam is an easy meal to make. Overall Mintz looks at how food is introduced to society and how it slowly integrates into different class systems. This study is important because it shows specifically when the world changed and started transforming to what we know now. Readers looking at this article will quickly realize that sugar has changed tremendously over time and is now in almost everything we eat, they will acknowledge how sugar changed because of slave labor and became accessible to everyone because of slavery.  We are now at a point where we have many different snacks almost completely made out of sugar.  A great video to watch is “A Brief History of Sugar From Slavery to Sweetener.” This video is great to watch to understand the history of sugar and the effects that had on the world. The video goes step by step from when sugar was first digested, to when it was first found out by Europeans (who turned it into a large scale operation), and how it is used and looked at today.

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“Food, Eating, and The Good Life”: Critical Analysis

In Judith Farquhar’s “Handbook of Material Culture”, she discusses the practice of eating, what role food plays in social life, how food practices vary across cultures, and the anthropological and historical discourses that are involved in the practices of eating. The author also discusses agency, and how interacting with food, and others through food, awards us this “agency” (145). Although the human diet has been meticulously researched and discussed for decades, Farquhar offers us a new perspective on diet and food: it creates culture and maintains kinship. Whether it be food taboos or family recipes, the power of food is evident in these instances in how it encourages certain social practices while dismissing others. Farquhar also describes how one’s experiences and childhood plays an important role in their food agency as adults. Although she suggested this may be the case because few are comfortable altering their food choices that have been with them since childhood, the author believes the shared kinship food awards to cultures and communities all over the world, connects us to the practices of our ancestors, thereby maintaining the traditional structure food operates within.

         In order to present her novel ideas on food and its presence in our lives and shared humanity, Farquhar uses ethnography and the practices of many cultural groups to highlight how differently these groups approach food. For instance, her example of Middle Eastern tribal cultures and their food practices, suggest that there is a hierarchical structure connected to food/ eating practices. In commensal groups, the rankings of social groups determine who will eat with whom, and this according to the author, is an important example of how food conveys social and cultural messages. The research of Munn and Weiner also support the authors claims, as they present their findings on the food and eating practices of the Trobriand Islands where food is divided and shared ritualistically. Farquhar’s inclusion of Australian food practices thus supports her claim that food taboos and practices are “enforced by the social systems” in which a people exist (147).  Although previous theorists cite knowledge and practice as influences of culture and social systems, Farquhar emphasizes that food and its practices are equally responsible in creating and maintaining social structures and systems of interactions.

         By presenting various examples of food practices and how they impact the experiences of a culture or social group, Farquhar effectively supports her claims that food plays a far more impressive role than simply sustaining us. The examples she uses of food as creating kinship, social hierarchies, and tradition, strongly suggest that food’s presence in our lives is multifaceted. By including her own work in Beijing, Farquhar further asserts her experience and qualifications that led her to viewing food and its practices as forms of agency and the foundation of social identity. Previous studies on food were strictly historical or biological, however, Farquhar offers a new perspective by researching food with an anthropological lens. By challenging previous impressions of the role of food, Farquhar also emphasizes the “holistic, relativist, and field-based” anthropological discourses that allow such an interpretation (149).

Farquhar’s ethnographic examples are clear and encourage us to reflect on our own food choices and practices. Her discussion of food as a form of agency also suggests that food grants us autonomy, even while we cling to traditional food structures, social practices, and food taboos. Whether it be its production, consumption, or traditional importance, food plays an important role in not only maintaining cultural identity, but also in sustaining social, ethical, and political systems of knowledge and power (155).

A major takeaway from this article is the question of agency and whether or not we employ it during our everyday food choices and practices. Farquhar presents her readers with the technical and structural foundations of our own food-centered lives, while also considering the practices of other cultures and groups and how they vary. Leah Selim in her TED Talk, “Food is not only culture, it is diplomacy” also references the importance of the food experiences of others, and how this awareness allows us to recognize that food contributes to our knowledge and interactions with each other.

After reading this article, I have begun to question my own food practices and the food traditions within my culture, and recognize that these structures of knowledge allow me to identity and relate to others in my cultural group. Farquhar’s engaging discussion on food agency and food practices was also an important reminder that food is a form of social and cultural power, and we must be aware of this when presented with the food practices of cultures that are not our own.

Farquhar, Judith. 2006. “Food, Eating, and the Good Life.” InHandbook of Material Culture, edited by Christopher Y Tilley, Webb Keane, Susanne Küchler, Michael Rowlands, and Patricia Spyer,(145–160).

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“Like an Extra Virgin” Reading Summary

In “Like an Extra Virgin,” Anne Meneley describes olive oil’s history and cultural significance to the Mediterranean region. Meneley (2007) distinguishes how traditionally produced olive oil is seen as purer and better for one’s health. She argues what it took for olive oil to develop into a successful commodity, considering that we live in an era where industrialized and processed items are faced with apprehension due to a common perception that these foods threaten health. As the debate on industrial versus artisanal quality continues, other methods of distinguishing quality have manifested. Some distinctive attributes of the various types of olive oil (extra-virgin, superfine virgin, extra-fine virgin, etc.) include flavor profile, which can range from the level of fruitiness to sourness, or even aroma. Brand quality is how producers distinguish themselves from other producers. A certain level of transparency, such as whether the olives were hand-picked or not, determines much of the consumer/producer relationship. In this global trade enterprise, finding your brand helps with its level of success and capitalistic prowess.

To support Meneley’s argument on the success of olive oil, she includes how olives have defined the Mediterranean. After centuries of continuous use of this natural food, its associated “ancientness” has given this fruit an edge over competing oils on the market. This element of olive oil has led to more discoveries in the scientific community. Its popularity has led to increased research on its notable and significant health benefits. With that came the development of what’s commonly known as the Mediterranean diet. As you guessed, olive oil is a staple product in the diet, and the proponents of healthy fats reduce the risk of heart disease, colon cancer, and high cholesterol. Olive oil has also been proven to be good for the skin, giving it an overall healthy and youthful appearance—the scientific evidence on good fats and the Mediterranean diet factors into brand distinction and capitalistic prosperity.

Additionally, Meneley mentions a comparison between a woman’s sexual purity and the quality of olive oil. From a Mediterranean sociocultural perspective, a woman’s virginal status is seen as something to be protected but has also been viewed as an oppressive means of discouraging women from embracing and unveiling their sexuality. Promiscuity is looked down upon, and like the status of olive oil, women who are not virgins are labeled unclean and face disownment by their families similar to the olive oil which fails to be produced to its highest quality; it is put aside and won’t be sold under the producers brand. A product’s success or desirability is magnified depending on the quality and level of virginity assigned, which is indicated by acidity. “The concrete and imaginary conditions of food production-and technes and technoscientific shaping of or interventions in food production-produce entailments on a food commodity’s ultimate exchange and consumption. The term extravirgin may evoke an ultrapure supervirgin in the imaginaries of many, but it is also a legal and bureaucratic term now” (Meneley, 2007, p.683).  

The evidence implemented to support the author’s claims are presented in a way that makes sense. Meneley’s examples to support her claims were also substantial because they allowed her to expound on her main arguments while remaining informative yet thought-provoking. I was able to thoroughly read her article without feeling that there were missed points or misused details. Her arguments, though, allow people to think about olive oil in a new way. This article is informative in expressing how olive oil became the successful commodity that it is today. Most other industrialized food products bring on much skepticism and hesitation. Still, since labels on olive oil bottles seem to signify its purity through an established and regulatory process that ensures authenticity, people are a lot more trusting in it. Supportive evidence from the scientific community adds to this reasoning, making olive oil production a very lucrative venture. 

Below I have attached a video on olive oil and the various types. I included this video because it makes great distinctions in each olive oil’s process and quality while mentioning that some oils labeled as extra virgin are actually mixed with other much cheaper oils like canola.

Meneley, Anne. 2007. “Like an Extra Virgin.” American Anthropologist 109 (4): 678–87. 

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Summary of “Like An Extra Virgin” by Meneley Anne

In the article “Like an Extra Virgin” Meneley Anne describes olive oil as a gift sent from the Greek Goddess Athena. Throughout the article the author does not talk about olive oil as something to be used only when one cooks, but a range of other categories it can fit into. The profundity of detail that Meneley included to do this was fundamental for this article, in light of the fact that without it the audience would not comprehend that the term characterizes olive oil past the market meaning of evaluation A newness. An olive oil with the extravirgin assignment must, for instance, accomplish at any rate a seven-out-of-ten trial score, have under .8% sharpness, and must not be squeezed using warmth and substance medicines. 

 Olive oil is a typical ingredient in beauty products, Meneley refers to olive oil as a “sexy fat” in a whimsical way. In nations, for example, England, its demand increased as it developed popularly supplanted spread as a more advanced fat for cooking. Moreover, the oil is tasty in the two its unadulterated and handled structures, an uncommon trait of a greasy food item (Meneley 2007: 680). Using the term “sexy” may not be the most relevant term here, Meneley still effectively communicates the possibility that olive oil is flexible and mainstream in an open, almost adorable way.

The worldwide social significance of olive oil shows up extremely unique and interdisciplinary. Meneley over and over underscores how the mixing of tasteful and logical standards shape the imaginative reasonableness of olive oil as a worldwide staple that duplicates as both a solid cooking fat, and an image of the Mediterranean as a focal point of culinary innovativeness. Olive oil has accepted the character of “another solidarity of the Mediterranean,” a light, sound fixing illustrative of the “Mediterranean eating regimen” that features flawless creation of food items utilizing strategies that cycle the gathered harvests as meager as could be expected under the circumstances. The technoscience of delivering olive oil as a buyer item that is globalized, industrialized, and prepared with present day apparatus actually accentuates the deep rooted custom of “homegrown art” and difficult work to accomplish the most excellent (Meneley 2007: 681). Meneley effectively portrayed olive oil as an immortal, sentimental European social seal, particularly by connecting its ebb and flow expert culture to the antiquated folklore that had lectured its flexibility and dietary lavishness.

Meneley, Anne. 2007. “Like an Extra Virgin.” American Anthropologist 109 (4): 678–87. 

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Summary of “On Apples and Anarchy” by Kathryn R. Falvo

On Apples and Anarchy, an article by historian Kathryn R. Falvo, dedicates itself to the understanding of the connection between the movements of veganism and anarchism. Falvo speaks to the broader utilization of both these terms and their usage within the fields of politics and movements of social change. She also provides an incisive historical glance at a utopic experiment called “Fruitlands,” conducted by a small grouping of social reformers in Massachusetts during the summer of 1843. Through her investigation of this attempted paradise, Falvo exemplifies her argument that dietary practice, while not inextricably linked to the idea of societal change and betterment, can be deeply connected to it. 

The community at Fruitlands, Falvo describes, adhered to the strictest form of vegetarianism, or what is now known as veganism; they did not eat, use or consume any animal products whatsoever. The goal at Fruitlands was one of a religious bent; to create a more perfect human being, and they believed they would attain a “purified soul” (35) by not consuming or using animal flesh because it was beneath them. “No animal substance, neither flesh, butter, cheese, eggs nor milk, pollute our tables or corrupt our bodies,” (40) writes Charles Lane, a Fruitlands founder. Animals consumption could, in the eyes of the Fruitlanders, influence human behavior to its most base and animalistic. Bronson Alcott and Charles Lane, the founders of Fruitlands, took a great deal of inspiration from Charles Fournier, a politician and proponent of communal living and anarchist ideals. With the goal of perfect humanity in mind, Alcott and Lane set out to create a settlement wherein there was no personal property, work was volunteered and government interaction was minimal. Unfortunately, after less than a year Fruitlands was dissolved—there were only nine permanent residents and six of the nine were children. The stringency and totalitarianism of the leadership drove others away as did the difficulty of farming. The group experienced starvation due to lack of farming knowledge and lack of knowledge of crop cultivation.

Falvo writes that this Fruitlands experiment is a clear example of why veganism cannot be based on hierarchical ideals, implying that neither being, animal or human, is more important than the other. From Fruitlands, Falvo also intimates that totalitarianism cannot be the basis for an anarchic society. This is to say that perhaps religion and anarchy are mutually exclusive, as the entire thesis of anarchist thought is based on the notion of freedom from oppressive rule. In detailing the story of this commune from 1843 Massachusetts Falvo expresses her opinion that veganism, with the exception of this community and other outliers, should be based in the interest of saving animals from cruelty and environmental awareness. In this idea of environmental awareness we can see the connection with anarchism; to further oneself from the government that makes harmful choices for you and your planet, one must extricate oneself from the capitalist system and all it entails. 

Falvo, Kathryn R. 2019. “On Apples and Anarchy.” Gastronomica 19 (1): 33–44.

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Summary of “The origins of soul food in black urban identity” by Tracey N. Poe

After reading “The origins of soul food in black urban identity“, Poe argument seemed to be on how African Americans have shaped a multi-dimensional unity for Black Americans through means of their entrepreneurship. I personally think that food is crucial to urban identity and it has an effect of fusing authenticity and variety together. I particularly liked how Poe phrased how African Americans formed a new urban black culture. “Using food as a vehicle for displaying Southern identity, migrants made effective use of the free market system without subordinating their new-found freedom to a “soulless” mass culture” (Poe 2002, p.92). In other words, cities like Chicago and New York were popular for the migration called the Great Migration and with the assistance of borders, that caused the racial isolation of urban black communities. Something that caught my attention was how Poe described how African Americans built their own class structures, churches, and institutions. After reading Poe, I feel like she offered more historical information rather than ethnographic material. Also, her claim was not clearly stated in this reading.  I do however feel, like Poe was trying to subliminally make the claim that African Americans adapting to authentic foodways may have helped form their urban black identity. Along with black owned businesses becoming popular, African Americans were able to delve more into their roots and origins.

“One thing that makes African Americans’ continued interest in restaurant and grocery store ownership explicable was the class status and political clout attached to being an entrepreneur, especially in a business with such a strong social dimension”(Poe 2002 p. 103). In other words, African Americans seized their opportunity to be entrepreneurs which showed power towards the black economy. Personally, this made me think of a couple of soul food restaurants that are here in Brooklyn, NY. I remember one of the owners of the places saying that they have been at that same location for 30+ years. My family has a southern North Carolina background, so we were raised on eating southern styled dishes. I have personal experience with how I view soul food since I was raised eating it. So that might give me a biased perspective on soul food. Nonetheless, soul food has become a popular choice and has roots of black restaurant owners and entrepreneurs that were able to gain power in a capitalistic America.

Poe, Tracey N. 2002. “The origins of soul food in black urban identity” Chicago, 1915–1947 in Counihan ed Food in the USA.

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Summary of “Food, Eating, and the Good Life” by Judith Farquhar

    Judith Farquhar in “Food, Eating, and the Good Life”, describes how the way people enjoy their own kinds of food depend on their culture. She begins to say that the way and the place you were raised has an obvious outcome on how you enjoy and prepare your food. The question she presents us with is if there are people that are not being able to really appreciate the deeper meaning of their culture’s food. Her argument is that she believes that where you are and depending on your culture your food choices can be altered. Throughout this chapter, Farquhar gives us multiple examples of how different cultures appreciate their foods. 

  There are multiple ethnographic examples that are given in this chapter to support the argument she has given us. One example she gives us is Brad Weiss’s “Sacred Trees, Bitter Harvests”. This example was to help us see a different perspective on her argument. Weiss’s argument is that food should not be made in a certain way just because of a society. Farquhar’s whole argument is that a society does change the way you enjoy your food. By giving us different types of perspectives, Farquhar is doing a very good job at creating an argument. when you show both sides to an argument, you are able to create a wider audience. 

Farquhar brings us an a new perspective of the idea of food and how to enjoy it. She talks about the story of two women who have been best friends for a while. They both enjoy cooking food and spending quality time together. They both see deeper than the surface when coming cooking food of their culture. Also the era in which you were raised as a impact on the way you look at food. For example, the when these two women growing up, there was a major food shortage. To one of them, they feel like they have food now so might as well use the most of it and the other believes that they should savior their food just in case there is another storage. Majority of people are not as open to the feeling that they have when coming to enjoying their food. Most people just take what they can get without any thought that what they are eating is a part of them culturally.

   Her main motive is that this article is to help people see that there shouldn’t be a border to enjoying food just because your religion or culture has showed you differently. What makes this argument surprising is the amount of examples she presents us with. You feel the need to think this deeply into your enjoyment of food. She opened the eyes of many different people to how they should view food. We just know the food were we given and don’t really pay attention to other cultures as much as we should.  The beauty of food should not be overlooked.

Farquhar, Judith. 2006. “Food, Eating, and the Good Life.” In Handbook of Material Culture, edited by Christopher Y Tilley, Webb Keane, Susanne Küchler, Michael Rowlands, and Patricia Spyer, 145–60.

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A summary of “Chinese Table Manners: you are how you eat” by Eugene Cooper

In the article “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat” by Eugene Cooper is an anthropological literature that gives an insight into Chinese food mannerisms. How a person behaves at a table tells the type of person they are, especially to their host. Usually, a Chinese dining table includes main dishes, also known as ts’ai dishes, set at the center of either a round or square table. Every guest at the meal is typically served with a bowl, saucer, pair of chopsticks and a spoon. Chopsticks are common in every Chinese meal. For instance, they can serve rice from a shared bowl into an individual’s bowl. The bowl is then raised to the mouth to make it easy for a person to push food into their mouth using the chopsticks. Putting back an already chewed piece of meat is regarded as disrespectful, especially those sharing the same meal. Additionally, biting or chewing one’s chopsticks is also viewed as disrespectful. Leaving one’s bowl on the table and eating from it demonstrates disinterest in the food, and in many cases, the host might find it very offensive. According to Cooper, sometimes a plate may be substituted for a bowl, and in this case, you can use a spoon instead of chopsticks. If a dish is served, they should always accept it using two hands as using one hand to receive food is viewed as a sign of disrespect. If a bowl is empty, they should not continue eating the main dishes, as this is considered to be greedy. When eating you should finish all the rice in your bowl. In addition, while serving the ts’ai dishes, one should serve in proportions, thereby leaving a substantial equal proportion to the remaining diners. Ultimately, food can be shared with a neighbor or a colleague. Eating alone is not very common due to the nature of the ts’ai dishes. 

While the author excels in indicating Chinese food mannerisms, it is essential to note that he also shows extravagance in Chinese culture as per food habits. For instance, at a formal dinner, the priority of the rice and main dishes are reversed. Here, the main dish or ts’ai is regarded as very important and can therefore be eaten without rice in a bowl. Ultimately, the article depicts Chinese cultural features such as deference, humility, putting other people first, and subduing one’s feelings to satisfy themselves before others. In the article, Food, Eating Behavior and Culture in Chinese Society, by Guansheng Ma dives into the Chinese culture and eating behavior.

Cooper, Eugene. 1986. “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat.” Human Organization 45 (2): 179–84.

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Summary of “Time, Sugar, and Sweetness” by Sidney Mintz

“Time, Sugar, and Sweetness” in Food and Culture by Sidney Mintz is an article that exemplifies true deconstruction of colonized foods and dives into the various depths of a sweet world. That sweet world, of course, refers to sugar and the vast history that accompanies it. The article starts off with the origins of sugar, dating back thousands of years. Sugar has impacted the lives of thousands of individuals of various ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. One of Sidney Mintz’s main premises is that the history of sugar would not be what it is today without the work done by slaves in the New World. A theme accompanying this one in the text is, the concepts behind the various ways by which sugar was not only consumed but produced as well. The author makes several acknowledgments to and of these minority groups that have been misrepresented and erased from the history of sugar and its production, “Together with other plantation products such as coffee, rum and tobacco, sugar formed part of a complex of ‘proletarian hunger-killers,’ and played a crucial role in the linked contribution that Caribbean slaves, Indian peasants, and European urban proletarians were able to make to the growth of western civilization.” (Mintz 94). It is evidenced that credit must be given were credit is due. Often times through a capitalistic lens we fail to give credit to many oppressed groups, as their imprint on history is erased.

When discussing the topic of sugar consumption, a major competitor during the early days of sugar was England. Their interest in the market was not only for the fact that it was sweet and delicious, but also because they believed sugar had medical values as well, “By the end of the seventeenth century sugar had become an English food, even if still costly and a delicacy. When Edmund Verney went up to Trinity College, Oxford in 1685, his father packed in his trunk for him eighteen oranges, six lemons, three pounds of brown sugar, one pound of powdered white sugar in quarter-pound bags, one pound of brown sugar candy, one-quarter pound of white sugar candy, one pound of ‘pickt Raisons, good for a cough, ‘and four nutmegs” (Mintz 97). The article continues to discuss the obsession that England had with sugar. However, with this obsession came the need to increase production. The “New World” saw this as an opportunity, for at the time they had few if any products of value that they exported to England. With massive plantations in place the “New World” began to ramp up production of sugar, but to do this they needed labor, particularly cheap, even free labor, resulting in slavery.

This is where the concept of oppression and capitalism starts to play a major role in the text. The author argues that several groups deserve significantly more credit in helping to build a flourishing economy in the “New World”. One major group in particular was African slaves and other oppressed individuals mentioned throughout, “Interest in the everyday life of everyday people and in categories of the oppressed—women, slaves, serfs, Untouchables, ‘racial’ minorities, as well as those who simply work with their hands—has led, among other things, to interest in women’s work, slave food, and discriminations and exclusions” (Mintz 91). This point exemplifies the fact that so many groups had such a major impact on the production side of sugar. From helping it become, not only a luxury for the higher ups like Monarchs and the wealthy, but also for everyday common people around the world (Mintz 93).

It can be deduced from the reading that several groups have shaped the rich history of sugar drastically, from the first representation of the wealthy and powerful that sought after sugar as a rare spice, to the representation of common people using sugar in their jams and tea. All groups, remembered and forgotten, lead to a rich history of consumption. It is however, most important to note that the history was significantly shaped by various less represented groups such as the African slaves and plantation workers in the “New World”, without whom the history of sugar would look dramatically different. That being said, the points made about the production and rise of sugar lead to various topics relevant today such as racial injustice and discrimination, as a history built on erasing and destroying minority groups for the sake of capitalism is still an issue we combat today. It can be presumed from the article that the author is implying that we must take moment and realize the roots behind sugar because, as many other things in existence today it has a flawed history.

Work Cited:

Mintz, Sidney W. “Time, Sugar, and Sweetness.” Story. In Food and Culture a Reader, 91–103. New York, NY: Routledge , 2013.

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A summary of Chinese Table Manners: you are how you eat by Eugene Cooper

The Best Dim Sum in Hong Kong – Time Out

The text: https://via.hypothes.is/https://anth2140.commons.gc.cuny.edu/wp-content/blogs.dir/13216/files/2020/10/Cooper-1986-Chinese-Table-Manners-You-Are-_How_-You-Eat.pdf

Title: Chinese Table Manners: You are how you eat

Author[s]: Eugene cooper

Published: 1986

Let’s talk about culture, more importantly mannerisms in certain cultures. The reading chosen for today is Chinese table manners: you are how you eat by Eugene Cooper; I chose this out of relatability being an Asian person. A short blurb of this reading gives us some basic background knowledge on how Chinese/Hong Kongnese people may eat in a formal [or informal] setting, things like telling everyone at the dinner table ‘let’s eat’ before beginning a meal together. While reading I found a lot of moments where I thought ‘hey I did/do this when I eat with the family.’ Such as the times when Cooper mentioned if you don’t finish your bowl your future spouse will have lots of acne, it made me laugh because this is what my mom told me a lot as a kid. Cooper’s main argument is revealed more in the latter pages of the reading, he shares that even though table manners are a small thing in our daily lives, it gives insight on how different cultures can be.

 He mentions that in Chinese culture table manners aren’t necessarily important in traditional dining setups, along with the mention that table manners aren’t well established in Chinese history. But Cooper brings us into a few examples of restaurants and a bit of what they’re like, if you’ve ever been to a dim sum restaurant before [this is from my experience] there are large round tables sometimes with lazy susans on top where the dishes usually go on top of. Elderly or older women [like mentioned in the text on page 5, right column 1st paragraph] push around trolleys filled with food, there are dishes you can choose from and sometimes there is a little stamp card that is stamped after you receive your dish. He continues on about how people may share a table with one another at the restaurant when it is packed during mealtime rushes such as lunch, though this is what he calls an ‘informal setting’. He mentions that dim sum is more of a formal setting, as it is a large gathering place with a more family-oriented setting. Some more specific and minor table manners [pages 3 and 4] that he mentions are that one shouldn’t [or try not to] leave the bowl with rice as it can be seen as rude. And that there isn’t necessarily a communal utensil that is used when getting side dishes, [i.e my mother takes some veggies with her chopsticks and places them into my bowl].

In showing some of the scenery and telling how the environment works as well as function, we can see how the way table manners work can help show what the Asian community in China is like or how they react in the presence of food. Throughout the passage, Cooper makes note of the small things that may not be substantial in daily life, but make a difference in Asian [or specifically Chinese] culture.

Some interesting Video[s]:




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Summary of “(Re)making quality in China’s dairy industry By Megan Tracy

The article “(Re)making quality in China’s Dairy Industry offers a highly significant and critical discussion in which Megan Tracy, the author, looks into the country’s dairy sector and practices.  As the title hints, China’s dairy industry has been a hotbed of notable events in the last two decades that pose critical threat which would derail the market and production of dairy products across the nation. As a University Professor with great experience in Sociology, Tracy (2008) offers an anthropological discussion as she evaluates contemporary Chinese society and the different community practices to inform her analysis of China’s dairy industry. Focusing on China, the article’s discussion primarily analyses what is perceived as quality and the differences in human understanding as it relates to dairy products.

Notably, Tracy holds a primary objective, which fuels the discussion across the article. In recognition of the issues that emerge in connection to quality, Tracy seeks to offer conclusive answers as she adds to the known literature on dairy farming. According to Tracy (2008), human beings view quality both as a standard of excellence as well as an embedded attribute or characteristic of a given product, item, or object. Consequently, Tracy’s (2008) argument posits quality as a consequence of intrinsic (material characteristics) as well as extrinsic (external dimensions and customer perceptions) actors. As such, aspects such as differences in pastures, feeds, milking practices, or cultural affiliations contribute greatly to the qualification of dairy products and subjective quality assessments. Ideally, Tracy seeks to say that quality transfers and circulates among people, places, and things.

As noted previously, the article’s discussion is primarily based on China as Tracy limits her examination to a specific geographic scope. As a result, the discussion broadly reveals that local, as well as national characteristics, affect the understanding and perception of quality as it relates to the country’s dairy products. For instance, small scale farmers’ collective assembly into cooperatives is a move in which China wishes to improve the quality of milk, the primary dairy product, through functions such as monitoring and controlling the production process. In essence, Tracy (2008) relates the government’s efforts as fuel towards a desirable level of what is considered as good quality nationally. Additionally, Tracy (2008) is more culture-specific as she delineates Mongolian dairy practices as relatively better when compared to other local communities across China. Tracy (2008) offers an example where Megniu drove more sales by identifying with Mongolia, unlike Yili, a competitor, which identified with a natural process. Notably, the deduction is that societal ideas affect the presumption of quality as China overlooks nature and natural processes in favor of cultural forces.

In essence, Tracy’s discussion is critically significant and relevant in society due to its high credibility in terms of the analysis. Besides a theoretical discussion, the article’s presentation is concretely backed as the author utilizes empirical evidence to develop her argument. Tracy classically relies upon and cites previous events that occurred in the country to drive her conclusion and ideas, such as the 2008melanine adulteration scandal, which ignited changes in China’s dairy industry. Ideally, the realistic presentation and analysis of facts structurally support the author’s views as she opts for examples in which any audience can easily understand. For instance, while companies extract fat in dairy processing, Tracy (2018) notes how then, can the final product be 100% milk as they advertise? Ideally, this is a clear example that illustrates the difference in human understanding of quality across different realms.

Notably, Tracy’s discussion offers immense help to contemporary society as she contributes towards the literature and discourse on the quality of dairy products. From the discussion, Tracy (2008) reveals that quality as a factor and attribute permeates through different settings and conditions. In this sense, language critically affects the presumption or perception in regard to quality. Tracy illustrates that language functions in a situational manner, as the discussion derives various definitions of quality. Ideally, while it is not implicitly stated, Tracy’s work connotes the idea of eradicating confusion and misunderstanding that limits dairy production. The article is an attempt to create a centralized or uniform view in understanding quality as it relates to dairy products.

In conclusion, “Remaking quality in China’s dairy industry” captures various anomalies that underpin the sector. In her discussion, Tracy focuses on differences in the perception of and the human understanding of quality, which affects the human view and consumption of dairy products.

Tracy, M. (2018). (Re) making quality in China’s dairy industry. Asian Anthropology, 17(4), 237-253.

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Summary of “Don’t pack a pest”: parts, wholes, and the porosity of food borders” by Heather Paxson

Heather Paxson (2019) in her article, “Don’t pack a pest”: parts, wholes, and the porosity of food borders” suggests that food safety is unequally authorized at the United States entry ports. Foods that appear at ports of entry whether as passenger luggage or shipped otherwise are subject to inspection and there is a possibility, they can be refused entry. Although, food items are continuously coming to the American borders some of them are being refused entry by the U.S. food inspectors. Since, they are classified as unclean and unfit. They are considered dangerous and unhealthy. While legal restrictions of “international travel and trade” (657) allows for the development of some products. The International food prevents the sickness of “food-borne” (658) for human beings from food products. It is impossible to equalize food safety and trade. Although it is perceived that food products are equalize as what is called “Eating American” (658). This kind of idea caused Americans to develop and introduce for foreign foods. Eliminating all food threats is impossible. The way risk assessment of food is done might require reclassification which includes value information. Often retailers and importers profit margins which are at risk when they must wait for their food products to be released even if the foods are perishable. The American food system does not only depend on a consistent influx of foreign agricultural labor but also foreign food products. However, it is what makes it American, ethno-culturally diverse and futuristic rather than tradition bounded.

 Heather Paxson (2019) argues that there is a perception of what is called, “Eating American” (658)? This might be true but to me the idea of eating like an American is problematic which is something that cannot be clearly defined. I wonder if eating like an American means eating the food products that were produced in America or might it mean eating what has become customary in society according to the foods we eat and how they are attached to the American culture? Basically, what I am saying is that the American diet comprises of several foreign produced food as well as American produced food. Many people have become accustomed to eating both and to them it is more like a cultural way of eating regardless of where the foods come from. Also, some do not even know where the products originate and they do not care. Many fruits and vegetables and other food consumed in America are not produced in the U.S. For example, vanilla is not produced in America but so many American foods that we eat have vanilla. However, my favorite ice cream is vanilla ice cream. Ice cream is considered American and the flavor of vanilla might be as well, but vanilla itself is not. So, it complicates the issue of what is considered eating like an American. Also, eating ice cream is cultural in the American society as well. Then there is the idea of eating tropical foreign food. If one goes to a restaurant and eat Italian food in America is it truly Italian food or can it be classified as American made Italian food or something else entirely. Again, the whole thing is complicated.

Paxson, Heather. 2019. “‘Don’t Pack a Pest’: Parts, Wholes, and the Porosity of Food Borders.” Food, Culture & Society 22 (5): 657-73.

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Summary of “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat” by Eugene Cooper

In the article “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat”, the author Eugene Cooper mainly introduces how table manner can reflect oneself as well as the different customs and taboos of Chinese table manners. He begins by saying that Chinese table manners are more than superficial, and that it is hard to find a guide that can give a general description of contemporary table manners. A country’s dining table, like its buses, taxis and streets, is a microcosm of its civilization. China is a great country with a history of civilization of 5,000 years and is known as the “state of etiquette and Propriety”. As an important part of Chinese traditional culture, etiquette has a profound influence on the development of Chinese society and history. For a society, etiquette is a reflection of a country’s social civilization procedures, moral customs and living habits. For individuals, it is a person’s ideological and moral level, cultural accomplishment, communication ability of the external performance.

Cooper describes how expectations of proper behavior at the dinner table vary by region, age, and class, in both formal and informal settings. Even so, one must abide by the principle of obedience and consideration for others. Generally speaking, the etiquette that people should pay attention to when eating includes: it is impolite to bite or suck chopsticks; Don’t put anything chewed back on the plate; Wait until everyone is served; One has to pick up a bowl of rice with both hands, and so on. In some formal occasions, such as weddings, banquets and funerals, people are expected to fill up ts’ai. If one eats too much rice, it will show his dissatisfaction with the dishes and make the host feel disrespected, because the host will order the best dishes to entertain the guests to show their enthusiasm and care for the guests. One also needs to pay attention to the amount of rice. When a person has had enough to eat, there can be no leftovers in the bowl, because Chinese have been taught since childhood that every grain of rice or corn is acquired through the sweat of the cultivator in the soil. Also, it’s polite to pour tea for people you know.

Chinese table manners are meant to be considerate of each other, to put others before others, and to put one’s own personal desires behind. Chinese table manner refers not only to the arrangement of seats, the way the plates and glasses are placed, but also to the behavior of those who are seated at the table. It is also a means of socializing. In the course of the meal, people’s self-cultivation etiquette can be manifested by words and deeds. Correct table manners not only show elegance but also make a good impression and affirmation. However, in today’s fusion of China and the West, many Chinese etiquette is often ignored, resulting in many embarrassing scenes. Therefore, to master some table etiquette in social life is particularly important.

Cooper, Eugene. 1986. “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat.” Human Organization 45 (2): 179–84.

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Summary of “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat” by Eugene Cooper

Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat

In Eugene Cooper’s article “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat.” he provides the reader with everything one can learn on Chinese table manners. Cooper spent five years doing field research in Hong Kong and is married to a Chinese woman who taught him Chinese table manners. With this knowledge and experience, he shares every detail on Chinese food and manners. He argues that in Chinese culture, ones actions at the table can determine who they are as a person. By following the Chinese table manners, one portrays thinking of others before oneself and humility. 

In a typical Chinese meal, each participant in the meal is equipped with a bowl for fan (rice), a pair of chopsticks, a saucer, and a spoon. Although Westerners may consider this unhygienic, the ts’ai dishes are placed in the center for all to take from. It is very impolite to begin eating before everyone at the table has had his bowl filled with rice. After one finishes his rice, the host should notice his rice bowl is empty and move to fill it before he might be forced to request more rice. When one rises to get more rice, the host will usually insist on taking one’s bowl and filling it. One does not serve oneself without first offering to others, at least those seated immediately to either side. When taking from the common dishes one should also only take in such proportions that everyone else will be left with a roughly equivalent amount. These actions portray yielding to others before satisfying one’s own urges. Chinese parents teach their children how to behave at the table and the children must show that they understand and are learning. 

Cooper’ evidence is it presented in a way that makes it clear how he intends to support his argument. He begins the article by saying that the way someone handles himself at the table gives off signals to most Chinese as to what kind of a person he is. If he follows the humble ways of eating, he will be portrayed in a positive light. Throughout the text, he proves his argument by assessing Chinese table manners and explaining the strict rules at the dinner table which portray humility. At the end of the article, he repeats that eating in these specific ways shows who you are as a person. Cooper addresses the fact that to Westerners, the Chinese way of eating may seem insane. For example, in the West, you have your own plate of food, while in China the dishes are placed on the table and everyone shares. Westerners’ table manners do not revolve around humbleness; we do not think of others during a meal as the Chinese do. Cooper’s article shows that it is important for Westerners to be knowledgeable on Chinese table manners in order to better communicate a message about ourselves. Yanye Li points out in his article, The Comparison of Chinese and Western Table Manners, adds that a guest should suit the convenience of the host so that there will be fewer misunderstandings and the communications between China and the West will become easier. Cooper shares the message that the Chinese have specific traditions when it comes to food which evidently describe the person you are. His argument should show Westerners that it is important to familiarize with these traditions in order to depict who we are.

Works Cited 

Cooper, Eugene. 1986. “Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat.” Human Organization 45 (2): 179–84.

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Summary of “Coffeetalk: StarbucksTM and the Commercialization of Casual Conversation” by Rudolf P. Gaudio

In the article “Coffee: Starbucks™ and the commercialization of casual conversation”, Rudolf P. Gaudio demonstrates the idea of casual conversation not as a naturally occurring event but something that is politically, economically and culturally involved with global capitalism. Gaudio focuses on the temporal, spatial and social context of the casual context and how it is used in different settings but coffeehouses and Starbucks in particular. Gaudio realizes this by bringing up past ideas of linguistics, sociology, discourse analysis, etc. Gaudio defines what a conversation is and the distinction between public/private and ordinary/institutional within a “natural” conversation. He further delves into this by explaining the social and cultural circumstances of the busy American lifestyle in comparison to the assumed leisurely British European lifestyle. He looks into the context of coffee, and how Starbuck exploits the idea of a “Third Place” or a place free from the influence of work and home. Gaudio looks at Habermas’ and Burke’s romanticized explanation of old English European coffee houses. He points out the capital influence of Starbucks and the wealthy middle class participants of coffeetalk, the infiltration of a higher class idea of artistic and freedom which pushes out lower and working class citizens while ironically appealing to women who were excluded in old coffeehouse experience. 

Gaudio uses the idea of public and private sphere a lot to measure the cultural, economic and political acceptance within casual conversations. This refers to the conversations brought up in English coffeehouses and talk about democracy and the rise of capitalism. Gaudio brings up the difference between family and work to show cultural effects, in what time or space would you say something, the preciousness of time, the difficulty of preparing a visit compared to grabbing a coffee. Gaudio uses quotes from executives of Starbucks like Howard Schultz and Dave Olsen to explain marketing methods and general trends that Starbucks capitalized on to gain an audience. The evidence above help to understand how coffeetalk isn’t simple or natural but contains layers of economic and social choices Americans have to go through before they consider a simple outing in a bar/club, restaurants, and/or coffeehouses. 

The author’s purpose is to look at the context and development of an occurrence we think of as ordinary and casual. But also to convince readers of a social and cultural unfairness being introduced into the community by a big corporation like Starbucks. This can be seen in the comparison Clifton Spa Luncheonettes customers made to the pricing of Starbucks which they believed to be too expensive and unwelcoming. This betrays the idea that coffeehouses were meant to be accessible and how casualness is not actually as simple as the example Gaudio used of the movie Good Will Hunting where Skylar, a rich British student asks Will, an Irish American janitor from South Boston, for coffee. Casualness is  noted as associated with equality, but is proved to contain many cultural and economical considerations. This could be Gaudio’s way to get audiences who have been misled in their understanding of the casual conversation and overlooking the economic factors that tie to an individual’s social and financial status.

Gaudio, Rudolph P. 2003. “Coffeetalk: StarbucksTM and the Commercialization of Casual Conversation.” Language in Society 32 (5): 659–91.

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Summary of “Like and Extra Virgin” by Anne Meneley

In “Like an Extra Virgin,” Anne Meneley details the contradictions between the development of olive oil as a globally produced commodity and the contemporary marketing of extravirgin, estate produced olive oil as a “traditional” product.

…[some other text]

Meneley discusses how discourses about olive oil are explicitly gendered, as well the way olive oil, and ‘the Mediterranean’ more generally, stand in for an idealized site from which ‘real’ food is sourced. Yet through this very process, ‘the Mediterranean’ is figured as an ‘exotic’ yet homogenous place—one that can be ‘consumed as delicious and healthy food’ (684) while erasing any reference to the complex racial, religious, and geopolitical history and present of the region. After all, as Meneley points out, ‘part of the Mediterranean is Muslim’ (684), and—a point she does not underscore as explicitly—a significant part of the Mediterranean is African. Indeed, as Alia Yunis points out in her documentary Taste of the Golden Harvest, the production of ‘the Mediterranean,’ and in particular olive oil, involves not only gustatory pleasure and bodily health, but also morality, spirituality, and dispossession.

…[some other text]

Meneley, Anne. 2007. “Like an Extra Virgin.” American Anthropologist 109 (4): 678–87. 

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