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Inaugural Food Values Research Group Seminar: Wednesday, 10 February, 2016

Announcing the Food Values Research Group Seminar Series

This new seminar series presented by the Food Values Research Group aims to bring together researchers from diverse fields with an interest in food production and consumption. We are proud to present two presentations for our initial seminar:

Nutritional Primitivism and Superfoods: Between Commodification and Critique

ChristineKnight_Dec2014_2Dr Christine Knight, Edinburgh University, and Ms Jessica Loyer, University of Adelaide

Primitivism is a significant but often unexamined facet of contemporary food and nutrition culture. This paper draws on Knight’s concept of “nutritional primitivism”, developed in research on the low-carbohydrate diet movement, to analyse primitivism in the contemporary marketing of “superfoods”. Nutritional primitivism has blossomed in superfoods discourse and imagery over the last three decades, emerging not only in response to a perceived crisis in contemporary Western health, but also the globalisation and industrialisation of food and agriculture. Ethnographic research with superfoods producers indicates that primitivist representations of superfoods contrast markedly with actual circumstances of production, and lived experience of food producers and communities. Nonetheless, primitivism offers a critique of contemporary foodways and their underlying social structures, so that understanding the real fears, anxieties, and moral dilemmas it expresses can enables us to consider what constitutes “good” and “healthy” food and food systems, and how to achieve these goals.

Christine Knight trained at the University of Adelaide and CSIRO Human Nutrition before joining the University of Edinburgh in 2008. Her research on contemporary food culture focuses on nutrition and dietary advice, and she currently holds a Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship to investigate stereotypes of the Scottish diet. She is a Visiting Research Fellow with the Food Values Research Group, University of Adelaide, and School of Health Sciences, Flinders University.

Jessica Loyer holds an MA in Gastronomy from the University of Adelaide and Le Cordon Bleu, and is currently a PhD candidate in Food Studies at the University of Adelaide. Her research investigates contemporary food and nutrition culture, as well as seeks to conceptually connect food production and consumption through interdisciplinary research methods. Her PhD focuses on ‘superfoods’ as both a food values discourse and a group of global agricultural products.

Media, Nostalgia and the New Food Industries

Dr Michelle Phillipov from the School of English, Journalism and European Languages, University of Tasmania.Dr Michelle Phillipov, University of Tasmania

Over the past decade, television cooking shows have popularised interest in the provenance of food and the ethics of food production for ‘mainstream’ audiences. This success has occurred against a backdrop of broader public concern about the risks and uncertainties associated with contemporary (industrial) food production, including worries that we no longer know where our food comes from, what is in the food we eat, or how that food is produced. This paper explores two popular media texts that offer self-sufficiency as a ‘solution’ to the problem of industrial agriculture and food production. Escape to River Cottage and Gourmet Farmer are each centred around a narrative of a city-dweller who moves to the country to set up a smallholding. With their nostalgia for an earlier—simultaneously unproblematic and emotionally fulfilling—time of food production, these programs offer an image of a utopian lifestyle in which audiences are also encouraged to ‘choose’ to produce and consume differently. That is (middle-class, educated) men who are who are predominantly rediscovering ‘traditional’ food practices—initially as a plan to feed themselves and their families, but ultimately as a platform for professionalization—suggest both important changes to the cultural and political ‘place’ of food in the contemporary West, and the ways in which feelings of risk and uncertainty can open up new markets and marketing strategies for niche food products.

Michelle Phillipov is an ARC DECRA Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Journalism, Media and Communications at the University of Tasmania. Her research explores the new relationships between the media and food industries that are emerging as a result of the intensified media focus on food.

When: Wednesday, 10th of February, 1-2 PM

Where: Ira Raymond Room, Barr Smith Library, North Terrace Campus, University of Adelaide (click here for campus map)

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3 Responses

  1. […] researchers from diverse fields with an interest in food production and consumption. At our initial seminar in February, we enjoyed engaging presentations from Dr Christine Knight (University of Edinburgh), Ms Jessica […]

  2. Thanks for posting this. i really enjoyed reading this.

  3. […] “nutritional primitivism” trends feature nostalgic tendencies to idealise the food cultures of ancient or indigenous people […]

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