On another page, I have
written about a 'collective amnesia' concerning our food production
systems - people do not know that the food they eat is mostly industrial
products, and they may not even WANT to know this, so I think it
is fair to call this a collective amnesia. It could also be described
as a delusion, but whichever word is used, this seems to be a society-wide
psychological syndrome, a deliberate blindness.
I also want to mention some other psychological perspectives that
I have 'discovered' involving food:-
- many children's books have talking animals in a traditional
farmyard - I jokingly call this the "Farmyard of Eden".
This is one of the first things that many children learn about,
and from their first toys, they also get an idea of 'cuddly' friendly
animals, who love us. This myth seems to have replaced the "Garden
of Eden" myth and the collection of religious ideas which
dominated for centuries. It also seems to have taken exactly the
same role as the religious myths, and nowadays the "Farmyard
of Eden" myth is a direct replacement of the previous religious
- many people have a 'Sacrament of Meat' - in conversations,
people say they couldn't live without it, they have to have it
every day. This is very widespread. One gets an impression that
people feel their world would collapse without eating meat, and
perhaps that the more meat they eat, the more 'real' they feel.
It seems to be a very strong desire, even a compulsion, and there
may be religious elements - for some, it is literally a sacrament
- people nowadays hate (fear ?) to see soil on their food, otherwise
supermarkets would not be so careful to ensure the purity and
cleanness of the food on the shelves. Much food is sterilised
and irradiated to kill all infections.
- many people use food in irrational ways - for comfort, in anorexia/bulimia
conditions, to display wealth. There is also widespread obesity.
These are some exploratory thoughts, but the sum total of these
observations gives an unusual and worrying psychological picture
of our society, to which I cannot do justice here. I have read some
of Michel Foucault's major works in a search for more understanding
of this, and there could be an investigation of food similar to
his investigations of sexuality, but this is beyond the scope of
my project at the moment.
The factors that I have mentioned above seem to be operating at
another level, at a mythic, or sub-discursive level, but they still
deeply affect the contents of our shopping baskets. In the same
way that there is little discourse about the industrialisation of
food production, there are seldom discourses about 'farmyard myths',
sacramental food, and sterility of food. The discourses about eating
disorders usually focus on psychological and medical factors.
Note. I am not claiming links between these issues, except
that they all involve food !
contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in the