The Politics of Food

The Politics of Food

by Marianne Elisabeth Lien

Marianne E. Lien Associate Professor in Social Anthropology,University of Oslo. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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and Brigitte Nerlich

Brigitte Nerlich is Principal Research Officer, Institute of Study of Genetics, Biorisks and Society, University of Nottingham. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Berg, 2004
  • DOI:
  • ISBN:
    978-1-3500-4490-6 (online)

    978-1-8597-3848-1 (hardback)

    978-1-8597-3853-5 (paperback)

    978-1-8452-0582-9 (epdf)
  • Edition:
    First edition
  • Place of Publication:
  • Published Online:
The Politics of Food
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Is shopping for food really a political act? Why is it that, in a world with enough food for everyone, more people than ever go hungry? Why did the French resistance against genetically modified foods become a fight against McDonalds? Why did the foot-and-mouth epidemic in the UK become a problem for consumers? Capable of connecting human bodies to abstract nations, and techno-science to moral concerns, food has become one of the most contested fields of our time. It is high on the political agenda throughout the world. With disease, contamination, famine, hunger and imbalanced food markets all unfortunate realities, a book that interrogates the politics of food is long overdue. From the BSE outbreak in the 1990s through to cultural taboos and the genetic modification of produce and livestock, this timely book raises provocative questions about how we relate to food in the 21st century. Recent food scandals and genetically modified organism controversies have shattered the idea that ‘food is food’ as we have always known it, and exposed fundamental dilemmas related to risk and control. Taking as its starting point the premise that food is politicized in arenas not commonly thought of as political, The Politics of Food explores issues surrounding the development of global food markets in underdeveloped nations and addresses recent events that have had a profound impact on how consumers feel about what they eat. The epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease that swept through the UK in 2001 spawned a series of questions concerning the real costs of cheap food. What lessons have been learned? And how are food choices linked to the politics of food markets? With globalization, food has increasingly become entangled in webs of political significance. Through ethnographic case studies, this book reveals how food has come to serve a key role in political resistance, grassroots activism and nation-building.