, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 167-176
Date: 22 Aug 2008

Discomforting comfort foods: stirring the pot on Kraft Dinner® and social inequality in Canada

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Abstract

This paper contrasts the perceptions of Canadians who are food-secure with the perceptions of Canadians who are food-insecure through the different meanings that they ascribe to a popular food product known as Kraft Dinner®. Data sources included individual interviews, focus group interviews, and newspaper articles. Our thematic analysis shows that food-secure Canadians tend to associate Kraft Dinner® with comfort, while food-insecure Canadians tend to associate Kraft Dinner® with discomfort. These differences in perspective partly stem from the fact that Kraft Dinner® consumption by food-secure Canadians is voluntary whereas Kraft Dinner® consumption by food-insecure Canadians frequently is obligatory. These differences are magnified by the fact that food-insecure individuals are frequently obliged to consume Kraft Dinner® that has been prepared without milk, a fact that is outside the experience of, and unappreciated by, people who are food-secure. The food-secure perspective influences responses to food insecurity, as Kraft Dinner® is commonly donated by food-secure people to food banks and other food relief projects. Ignorance among food-secure people of what it is like to be food-insecure, we conclude, partly accounts for the perpetuation of local food charity as the dominant response to food insecurity in Canada.