Edited by Robert C. Kloosterman, Virginie Mamadouh and Pieter Terhorst
Chapter 17: Food and globalization: ‘from roots to routes’ and back again
Food-related practices are among the more pervasive of human life, from either the individual, social, cultural, political and economic points of view. Their relation to globalization is complex. On one hand, they are still largely place-based, according to the variety of local names, they have and the diversity of the ways of identifying, producing, transforming and consuming food, including between not so distant places. The diffusion of references to the regional or national origin as the main attribute of the food people eat or restaurants serve also testifies of the close relationship between food and places. On the other hand, though, food and globalization seem nowadays to be ‘inseparable’ and what is more, long-term flows of food products and of culinary ideas have been crossing the oceans for centuries and the desire for tropical food products, such as tea, coffee, cocoa, sugar, was one of the triggers of colonization and for the subsequent transformation of colonized lands in plantations and food reservoirs for the colonizing powers. So, the quest for certain kinds of food may offer early examples of globalization but, at the same time, deserves to be analyzed as a trigger for colonial expansion, slave trade, and globalization itself. The chapter aims at presenting the more significant dimensions of the globalization of foodscapes, starting from its historical roots. The chapter specifically focuses on the economic aspects of food globalization, addressing the international circulation of food products as commodities, the transnational expansion of food-based corporations, and the emergence of a global food governance. Finally, social and political aspects of food globalization are taken into account, considering the practices of opposition to the negative externalities of the globalization of the food system and the relationships between food and global and local cultural identities.
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