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Eating America: Crisis, Sustenance, Sustainability

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Edited By Justyna Kociatkiewicz, Laura Suchostawska and Dominika Ferens

This volume of essays examines the relationship between eating and crisis. The United States’ long-lasting economic and cultural hegemony raises a number of questions: Has America been – literally and metaphorically – eating, appropriating, exploiting, and molding the world in its own image, or has it been eaten, appropriated, and exploited as a (frequently criticized or disdained) source of ideas, ideology, and knowledge? What is the relation between the current ecological crisis and America’s consumerist economy, with its practices of food production and consumption, and its use of natural resources? What is America’s role in the ongoing crisis of modernity? And, if the crisis continues, where are the sources of sustenance?
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Tarte aux pommes, or, Delicacies Morally Good for You: Tomasz Basiuk

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In his 1957 Mythologies, Roland Barthes applied his critical acumen to an analysis of the myths that prevail in the popular discourse about food. Following Gaston Bachelard, Barthes speaks about the mythology of milk, cheese, wine, and steak, and comments on “ornamental cookery,” by which he means something like the “fiction” of ostentatious consumption addressed to the working class, such as he imagines the readers of Elle magazine to be (79-80). At the risk of repeating his observations in a trite manner, I will distill from Barthes’s insights these abstract principles: (1) certain foods are healthier than others, and (2) certain food choices are more sophisticated than other food choices. In the present era of ecology, it seems necessary to add one more precept: (3) certain food choices are morally superior to other food choices. (While some might argue that certain foods are simply tastier than others, I leave this point out as necessarily moot, on the de gustibus non disputandum principle.) This paper investigates how these three tenets overlap in some contemporary writings about food. Close attention is paid to the way in which that distinction—in the sense of judgments about taste that have class ramifications for social strata, as shown by Pierre Bourdieu—plays a part in writings about healthy eating and about making morally sound food choices.

Remarks will be offered on a leaflet distributed by Mercy for Animals, an NGO, which recommends the vegetarian/vegan diet, and on three examples of reportage: selected coverage...

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