Convenience Food as a Contested Category
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This chapter discusses the nature of convenience food as a complex and contested category, subject to multiple interpretations and diverse uses. It explores the difficulties of translating ‘convenience food’ into other European languages besides English and how the category is used to refer, variously, to fast food, snack food and packaged/canned/frozen/pre-prepared food as well as to other foods that do not require direct involvement from the consumer in the work of growing, raising or harvesting them. The chapter shows that convenience food is a contested category in academic usage (as an analytical term) and in everyday life (as used by consumers). Drawing a distinction between ‘convenience’ food as a marketing category that applies to certain kinds of food and a wider range of foods that are rendered ‘convenient’ through specific consumer practices, the chapter advances our core concept of ‘conveniencization’ to refer to the process through which certain kinds of foods come to be recognized as more or less convenient than others. The chapter proposes an initial comparison of our four case studies in terms of provisioning, cooking, eating and wasting practices, examining what, where and when foods are rendered convenient. We also propose a typology of how foods become convenient in terms of their acquisition, appropriation and appreciation.
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