Susan Swetnam

Why Food Matters

Although everyone is interested in eating, people don’t usually think of food as a subject which can tell us a great deal about human culture, values, and psychology. In fact, though, food has been the subject of much work by humanities scholars and social scientists, and their studies have suggested that “foodways” are intimately tied to people’s sense of identity, and to cultural continuity and change. This talk gives an informal introduction to such study of food. It provides a sampler of the kinds of questions that scholars ask, gives examples (from Idaho and beyond) of how food can reflect culture, and invites listeners to think about their own foodways and what they might mean. You’ll never think about dinner (or breakfast, or lunch, or holiday meals) in quite the same way again!