Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 167–176 | Cite as

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

Article

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.

Keywords

Canada Food banks Food charity Food insecurity Food security Hunger 

References

  1. Allossery, P. 2000. Kraft hits its mark in a cheesy moment. And why Kraft’s new ad campaign brings it back to form. National Post C.04.Google Scholar
  2. Appadurai, A. 1986. Introduction: commodities and the politics of value. In The social life of things: commodities in cultural perspective, ed. A. Appadurai, 3–63. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bateman, J. 2007. Barenaked Ladies. Encyclopedia of music in Canada 2007. Available from http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=U1SEC843622. Cited 22 February 2007.
  4. Bernard, H.R. 2006. Research methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.Google Scholar
  5. Borkan, J. 1999. Immersion/crystallization. In Doing qualitative research, ed. B. Crabtree and W.L. Miller, 179–194. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  6. Bourdieu, P. 1984 [1979]. Distinction: a social critique of the judgment of taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bryman, A. 2001. Social research methods. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Canadian Association of Food Banks. 2007. HungerCount 2006. Canadian Association of Food Banks 2006. Available from http://www.cafb-acba.ca/documents/2006_HungerCount_EN_designed.pdf. Cited 21 February 2007.
  9. Davis, B., and V. Tarasuk. 1994. Hunger in Canada. Agriculture and Human Values 11 (4): 50–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. DeLind, L.B. 1994. Celebrating hunger in Michigan: a critique of an emergency food program and an alternative for the future. Agriculture and Human Values 11 (4): 58–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gershon, I., and D.S. Raj. 2000. The symbolic capital of ignorance. Social Analysis 44 (2): 3–14.Google Scholar
  12. Glaser, B.G., and A.L. Strauss. 1967. The discovery of grounded theory: strategies for qualitative research. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  13. Health Canada. 2007. Income-related household food security in Canada. Canadian Community Health Survey, Cycle 2.2, Nutrition (2004) 2007. Available from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/surveill/nutrition/commun/income_food_sec-sec_alim_e.html. Cited 24 August 2007.
  14. Jacobson, R.R., and D.E. Salamie. 2002. Kraft foods. In International directory of company histories, vol. 45, ed. J.P. Pederson, 235–244. Detroit, Michigan: St. James Press.Google Scholar
  15. Kopytoff, I. 1986. The cultural biography of things: commoditization as process. In The social life of things: commodities in cultural perspective, ed. A. Appadurai, 64–91. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Locher, J.L. 2002. Comfort food. In Encyclopedia of food and culture, ed. S.H. Katz, 442–443. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.Google Scholar
  17. Locher, J.L., W.C. Yoels, D. Maurer, and J. Van Ells. 2005. Comfort foods: an exploratory journey into the social and emotional significance of food. Food and Foodways 13: 273–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. McIntyre, L., N.T. Glanville, S. Officer, B. Anderson, K.D. Raine, and J.B. Dayle. 2002. Food insecurity of low-income lone mothers and their children in Atlantic Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health 93 (6): 411–415.Google Scholar
  19. McIntyre, L., N.T. Glanville, K.D. Raine, J.B. Dayle, B. Anderson, and N. Battaglia. 2003a. Do low-income lone mothers compromise their nutrition to feed their children? Canadian Medical Association Journal 168 (6): 686–691.Google Scholar
  20. McIntyre, L., S. Officer, and L.M. Robinson. 2003b. Feeling poor: the felt experience of low-income lone mothers. Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work 18 (3): 316–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McIntyre, L., V. Tarasuk, and T. Jinguang Li. 2007a. Improving the nutritional status of food-insecure women: first, let them eat what they like. Public Health Nutrition 10 (11): 1288–1298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McIntyre, L., P. Williams, and N.T. Glanville. 2007b. Milk as metaphor: low income lone mothers’ characterization of their challenges in acquiring milk for their families. Ecology of Food and Nutrition 46: 263–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Merriam-Webster. 2007. Comfort food 2007. Available from http://www.m-w.com. Cited 24 August 2007.
  24. Miles, M.B., and A.M. Huberman. 1994. Qualitative data analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  25. Miller, D. 1998. A theory of shopping. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Mintz, S. 1985. Sweetness and power: the place of sugar in modern history. New York: Viking Press.Google Scholar
  27. Mintz, S., and C. Du Bois. 2002. The anthropology of food and eating. Annual Review of Anthropology 31: 99–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Moore, S. 2006. Peripherality, income inequality, and life expectancy: revisiting the income inequality hypothesis. International Journal of Epidemiology 35 (3): 623–632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nguyen, V.-K., and K. Peschard. 2004. Anthropology, inequality, and disease: a review. Annual Review of Anthropology 32: 447–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Oxford English Dictionary. 2007. Comfort food 2007. Available from http://dictionary.oed.com. Cited 24 August 2007.
  31. Penfold, S. 2002. ‘Eddie Shack was no Tim Horton’: Donuts and the Folklore of mass culture in Canada. In Food nations: selling taste in consumer societies, ed. W. Belasco and P. Scranton, 48–66. London, New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  32. Phillips, L. 2006. Food and globalization. Annual Review of Anthropology 35: 37–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Poland, B.D. 1995. Transcription quality as an aspect of rigor in qualitative research. Qualitative Inquiry 1 (3): 290–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Print Measurement Bureau. 2003. PMB 2003 category reports: groceries 2003. Available from www.pmb.ca. Cited 24 February 2004.
  35. QSR International. 2006. NVivo 7, Version 7.0.247.0 [computer software]. Doncaster, Victoria, Australia: QSR International Pty. Ltd.Google Scholar
  36. Ricciuto, L.E., and V.S. Tarasuk. 2007. An examination of income-related disparities in the nutritional quality of food selections among Canadian households from 1986–2001. Social Science and Medicine 64 (1): 186–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rock, M. 2006. ‘We don’t want to manage poverty’: community groups politicize food insecurity and charitable food donations. Promotion and Education: International Journal for Health Promotion and Education 13 (1): 36–41.Google Scholar
  38. Roseberry, W. 1997. The rise of yuppie coffees and the reimagination of class in the United States. American Anthropologist 98 (4): 762–775.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Safeway Canada. 2007. Safeway community caring. National sponsorships and programs. Food bank 2007. Available from http://shop.safeway.com/corporate/safeway/community_can/food_bank.asp. Cited 21 February 2007.
  40. Spradley, J. 1979. The ethnographic interview. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  41. Storper, M. 2000. Lived effects of the contemporary economy: globalization, inequality, and consumer society. Public Culture 12 (2): 375–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tarasuk, V., and J.M. Eakin. 2003. Charitable food assistance as symbolic gesture: an ethnographic study of food banks in Ontario. Social Science and Medicine 56 (7): 1505–1515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Tarasuk, V., and N. Vozoris. 2003. Household food insufficiency is associated with poorer health. Journal of Nutrition 133 (1): 120–126.Google Scholar
  44. Tarasuk, V., and J.M. Eakin. 2005. Food assistance through “surplus” food: insights from an ethnographic study of food bank work. Agriculture and Human Values 22 (2): 177–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tarasuk, V., L. McIntyre, and J. Li. 2007. Low-income women’s dietary intakes are sensitive to the depletion of household resources in one month. Journal of Nutrition 137 (8): 1980–1987.Google Scholar
  46. Tayti, M. 2000. Invitations out for Welland food drive. Tribune B.3.Google Scholar
  47. Webb, E., D.T. Campbell, R.D. Schwartz, and L. Sechrest. 1981 [1966]. Unobtrusive research: Nonreactive research in the social sciences. Chicago: Rand McNally.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Health Sciences CentreUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

Personalised recommendations