Recap and Introduction



In the last chapter 5 (Waste), we examined how the concept of refuse is a reflection of the self. If that is the case for waste, it is certainly the case for food.

Cultural anthropologists and sociologists have long recognised that food fulfils far more than biological need – this is clear from the fact that no society on the planet consumes all the sources of food available to them, they tend to eat a limited range. For instance, in the UK most protein is derived from a restricted suite of domestic animals, whilst equally edible species (e.g. dogs, cats, rats and horses) are eschewed.

This very fact highlights the cultural motivations behind food choices. Indeed, scholars such as Mary Douglass and Claude Levi-Strauss have argued that food is a language, communicating our ideologies – be they personal, social, religious or cultural. 

If food is a language, what does it say about us? And can we learn from the message?