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The Anthropology of Food

By David Wann

Old Perspective: Food should be fast, easy, fun, and so cheap that it’s okay to waste it. Cooking doesn’t fit these criteria because it requires concentration, “extra” time, and engagement, so processed food is superior. The origins and quality of my food are not as important as their standardized, predictable consistency.

New Perspective: Food connects the grower, distributor and eater with the living system that it came from, in a chain of value that begins and ends in health and well being of both land and people.

Let’s visit Homer Simpson for a few minutes as our “average American” proxy watches TV and snacks. From the research of people like Dr. Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating, we know Homer is thinking – in his colorfully primitive way – that if he has the chips n’ dip, he’ll also have the friends, the laughter, the adrenalin rushes, the companionship that he sees in the commercials and sitcoms.

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