What is food studies?

Food studies represents a new interdisciplinary perspective in social sciences and humanities, forming linkages and interconnections among food-related issues. Using a systems perspective that benefits from rich methodological and analytical insights offered by various disciplines, researchers in this field study the ‘historically specific web of social relations, processes, structures, and institutional arrangements that cover human interactions with nature and with other humans involving production, distribution, preparation, and consumption of food’ (Power and Koç 2008: 2).

As an emerging field, however, the term food studies can be difficult to define. Academics have widely used it in recent years as an umbrella term to cover the study of food, cooking, and eating from a social sciences and humanities perspective. Despite this widespread usage, however, a rigorous analysis of food studies as a field or discipline has been lacking in the literature.

This book aims to capture the excitement, vitality, and promise of food studies by presenting the work of leading Canadian scholars in this emerging area of inquiry. Our overall objective is to develop an accessible text responding to the needs of both students and faculty. Our task is to inform readers about the breadth and depth of this new interdisciplinary perspective, and to introduce some of the key concepts and debates. We envision this volume as not only a book for those interested in food studies, but also an invitation for critical inquiry in this dynamic field of human endeavour.