Towards the end of the twentieth century the World Health Organization declared “obesity” a global epidemic. From 2001 onwards the term “globesity” came into use. “Globesity” is understood as a globally observable consequence of the spread of new “lifestyles” common in industrialized countries characterized by increased consumption of high-energy, industrially processed foodstuffs and low physical activity. According to this thesis, more and more people in the global North and increasingly also in the global South are “overweight” and suffer from “obesity,” measured by using the BMI. As “obesity” is classified as a risk factor for chronic, non-communicable diseases, “globesity” has been declared a public health crisis that threatens global society due to high healthcare costs and decreasing productivity. More recently,…

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SLOW FOOD is an organization that was founded in the Italian region Piedmont in 1986 by the left activist and sociologist Carlo Petrini. It has developed from a small cultural association into an international brand that combines entrepreneurial structures with a global vision of ‘better’ food. As this post will argue, its history also highlights the cultural-political contradictions of Italy’s bourgeois left. An important event that is frequently mentioned as the symbolic founding act of SLOW FOOD is the so-called “Battle of the Piazza di Spagna” on March 20, 1986, when people were rallying against the opening of Italy’s first McDonald’s restaurant at the Piazza di Spagna, the most prestigious address in Rome. Next to Petrini, protestors included Italian high…

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Just as the field of food history has achieved prominence in recent years it is true to say the same of popular interest in Native foods. Around the country, Native heirloom crops frequently show up at farmers’ markets. Interested consumers can even purchase produce in the form of a monthly TSA (“Tribally Supported Agriculture”) share. Gardeners across the world can order seeds to grow Ute squash or Cherokee “Trail of Tears” pole beans to plant in their backyards. In southern Arizona, O’odham farmers are raising tepary beans, sixty-day corn, and harvesting ciollim buds, all of which you can purchase online. Almost any grocer in the United States, from the grungiest co-op to the swankiest supermarket, stocks their shelves with ancient…

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The heated debate on the European “Nutella divide” that hit the news in 2017 only corroborated long-established East European beliefs: After the fall of the Socialist regimes, people did not get the much longed-for western quality products. Instead, substandard goods were shipped eastwards: Adidas trainers that would not sell, Swiss knives with dull blades, expired foods with new sell-by dates. Finally there was official proof that in the East, Nutella was less creamy (smooth), Coca Cola tasted flatter and fish fingers held less fish. The offended Visegrad states complained that they were abused as European dumping ground. The manufacturers first attributed this to adjusting recipes to regional taste preferences, and also – after some probing – to lower spending power.…

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In May 1891, the London Vegetarian Society held a meeting in Portsmouth. Present were not just English, but also two Indian members, T.T. Majumdar and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, both students of law in London. For Gandhi, later one of the leading figures in the Indian independence movement, membership in the London Vegetarian Society was a formative experience. It allowed him to discover vegetarianism as an ethically motivated choice and integrate it into a philosophy of non-violence. The encounter was not a singular instance. It was part of a larger entanglement between European vegetarianism and India.   In order to buttress what was then a fringe lifestyle, vegetarians in Europe made frequent reference to meat abstention in other parts of the…

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