FOOD IS MUCH MORE than a necessity of our physical being: it defines who we are and what we refuse to be. It is the source of some of our greatest pleasures, and something that sustains us through some of our most difficult times.
This book discusses some of our food choices, and places them within a broader context, which includes, for example: how our food is produced, acquired, prepared and presented; how the global economy has affected food production and distribution in both the developed and the developing world; what pressures we are under regarding the food choices we make for our newborns and our children; how we choose to present ourselves to Others, such as tourists, and to ourselves through the food we eat; and how we deal, in the West at least, with an excess of food, much of it quite unhealthy. It contains essays from an eclectic mix of people: psychologists, philosophers, historians, folklorists, nutritionists, nurses, political scientists, biologists, engineers and international aid workers.
As such, Food for Thought covers considerable ground and approaches this varied subject matter from a wide array of disciplinary approaches. Despite this variety, however, there are some surprising commonalities that appear in this collection. In particular, the papers contained herein touch upon, in their own ways, issues of modernity or postmodernity. The papers maintain, albeit at times only obliquely, that something radically different has happened in the last two hundred years, particularly since the Industrial Revolution and the rise of Capitalism. We now have much more efficient ways to produce and acquire food, and we in the developed world have an excess of goods in general. This has led to degradations in our environment, issues of overconsumption, new conceptions of the self, questions about autonomous choice and the need at times to frame our choices within broader public or community values and needs.