Food Devours Us

Mihály Andor

This section consists of extracts from three books, as well as an essay written by Mihály Andor which is first published here. In his book, Stephen Mennell describes how the influence of mass culture reached the domain of food consumption. He, however, does not regard this as tragic as critics of other branches of mass culture, espacially because mass culture in food consumption means above all that a greater number of people can eat more and better food than even a hundred years ago. The authors Beardsworth and Keil present how a modern food system necessary for the production of all the food that such a complex system would require has developed. However, they go beyond simply describing the positive side and try to turn our attention to the global unequalities of food supplies and warn us that it may be impossible to increase food production (or even to maintain the present level of production). George Ritzer presents an analysis of a special case of the manifestation of mass culture in food consumption, namely, the world of fast-food restaurants. He believes that McDonaldization extends beyond the sphere of food to other areas of social life. In his first published essay, Mihály Andor looks at meat eating and examines why meat is treated differently from all other types of food. He attempts to answer the following questions: why is meat valued higher than its market value in certain situations; why is it that taboos only apply to meat and not to any type of vegetables; why is there a hierarchy between various types of meats and how is it related to a hierarchy between people; why does meat and the battle of different opinions concerning meat, as opposed to vegetables, play such a crucial role in the self-definition of certain cultures; why does the distribution of meat follow the hierarchy of power relations both within the family and the society.

Released: Replika 27, 81–140.