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Conflicts Between Pleasure, Aesthetics and Health in Food Consumption: An Exploratory Study in Brazil

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It is possible to know and understand people and societies through their food and drink (Bell and Valentine 1997). Competing directions can be identified within the nutritional system (Warde 1994). One of these directions, for example, is construed from the discourse of professional nutritionists and the official discourse of governments, or their official agencies, about what a healthy diet consists of. Many times, another direction is found in modern societies, which is related to the tastes of the latest novelty. However, not only healthy diets but also appealing novelty approaches coexist with nutritional practices and beliefs derived from both traditional culinary culture, and from appeals of the mass media for people to be thin. The contradictions between these directions are seen as reinforcing conflicts associated with the consumption of food. The objective of this exploratory study is to analyze the discourses gained from in-depth interviews of women responsible for the decisions of Brazilian families' purchase and consumption of foods, and to interpret present conflicts in their alimentary practices. Before a discussion of the results, the complexity of the questions posed makes it is necessary to analyze the contribution from other social sciences that study food consumption.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2004

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