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Lecture 2

SOC 2080 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Corn Syrup, Marvin Harris, Meat Industry

Course Code
SOC 2080
Anthony Winson

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SOC 2080: Rural Sociology
Defining Our Approach
January 12th, 2017
The Intimate Commodity
Marvin Harris: ‘what is good to eat is good to sell’ -> commodification of food in
capitalist era
Use value is it unique?
o Value: sustenance, taste, entertainment, culture
o And exchange value (commodity nature, monetary value)
Issue of how and who determines that
Ways to look at food
o History (food history is something more new)/Anthropology of food (developed,
within anthropology food directly reflects culture “bread and butter”)
o Corn and the Maya
Corn was central, why?
Corn syrup cheap to make into sweetener
So much supermarket product contains corn
Corn for animal feeds, and most agriculture is for creating animal
feed (meat industry dominating what the land is used for)
Corn from ‘New World’, particular Mexico
National Anthropology Museum (Mexico)
Mythology depicts corn/maze, even as offerings
Privilege and icon food part of that culture
o Rice and Asian Cultures
Historically, civilizations built on the cultivation of rice
o Do certain foods still occupy, a privileged place in Canadian society?
Why is it the case we do not know anymore traditional Canadian Anglo-
Saxon meals?
Food, Status, and Inequality
Foods in Medieval Europe
Hindu caste culture: “a person acceptable for the table is acceptable for the marriage bed”
Food/dietary inequalities today: nationally and internationally
o who gets to eat what and where Canada
ie fine dining and restaurants rural factory workers in the ‘90s rarely
went out too eat
o Food “aid” and dietary transformation; case of American wheat and public law
480 (getting rid of surplus wheat in US used as aid [would reward countries with
o Free trade and food: case of Mexico argo exports and corn imports
o Who gains, who loses from trade and aid?
Canadian Context?
Dairy Industry at danger with possibilities of a new trade
Food: Dimension and Production
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