Kara Young

Gut Feelings: The Emotions of Food Inequality

Over the last 10 years, there has been a growing body of literature addressing the health risks associated with reliance on the American conventional food system. While this scholarship provides evidence that structural factors – especially food quality, income and access – shape people’s food consumption patterns, it is not able to make sense of how people in different social structural locations make decisions about what they eat among alternatives. One reason for this gap in research is that these structural frameworks tend to ignore the micro level meanings that inform how individuals navigate the food system and how those meanings are shaped by race, class, and gender. Drawing on in-depth interviews, participant observation, and focus groups, I argue that race, class, and gender inequalities are acted out through different emotive relationships to food therefore fortifying the results of structural inequality. Individuals understand the places that they eat as raced and classed spaces and embody systems of raced, classed, and gendered meanings that can be explored through their emotional relationships to food. Specifically, feelings of control, fear, pleasure and pride around food are explored.