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Eating America: Crisis, Sustenance, Sustainability


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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Voluntary Simplicity and Voluntary Poverty: Alternatives to Consumer Culture: Małgorzata Poks



Even a brief survey of the numerous websites advocating lives of voluntary simplicity suffices to impress the browser with the popularity of downsizing in mature capitalist societies.1 Amitai Etizoni, American sociologist and founder of the Communitarian Network, attributes the spectacular career of simplicity to our increasing awareness of the undesirable effects of intensive consumerism combined with a rising concern for the quality of life. In an essay published in 2003 for a collection entitled Voluntary Simplicity: Responding to Consumer Culture, Etizoni estimated that over 20% of Americans were “contingent workers” (part-time, temporary, or contract workers), and warned that, with increasing numbers of minors and the elderly working to meet the rising costs of living, the country was “heading back toward an earlier age, that of rawer capitalism” (“Introduction” 3). In a post-affluent society, claims Etizoni, voluntary simplicity offers a welcome alternative to the treadmill of advanced capitalism, an opportunity to drop out of the rat race to live a more humane life attuned to communal, environmental, and spiritual needs. Spanning a whole spectrum of attitudes from selective downshifting through minimalism to the Simple Living Movement, voluntary simplicity attracts those whose most basic needs have been secured and who are searching for other sources of satisfaction and meaning beyond consumerism (17-18).2

“Simplicity has been and remains an ethic” of those “free to choose their standard of living,” concurs David Shi, a prominent historian of the movement (The Simple Life 7). His first important book on the...

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