Friday, 13 September 2013

Food and Facebook: Are our choices really our own?

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Food is an enormous part of human lives. We need it to physically survive, yet as Kuttainen (2013) discussed in her lecture although “food seems like the most physical thing to start with”, it has progressed to be much more complex than a means for survival. Our food choices and what influences our food choices have become more than just physically dislike or like. In a technology saturated society, the media has become increasingly intertwined with every aspect of our lives, including our food choices.
Atkins & Bowler (2001) identify that “food advertising does indeed affect people's diet” (p.291). This brings in the concept of power as only large, wealthy companies have the power to frequently advertise their goods on the multiple forms of media and hence, people are more inclined to buy these products and continue the cycle as money is put back into these companies.

Facebook is a huge participant in the continuation of this cycle. As Le Billion (2013) states in her online blog,  “Food advertising has also moved online in a big way, as it’s both cheaper and a means of exposing kids to more advertising than on TV”. Large food corporations such as Coca-Cola and McDonalds can afford to have numerous ads on Facebook which influence people’s food choices.

The function on Facebook that allows you to “check in” to locations also is influenced by this corporate power; large franchises are more likely to be included on the maps whereas small cafes and food businesses are not.  So if people are looking for places to eat at, these large franchises are generally the first options to arise.

 This brings up the question that if we are so influenced by the media, are our food choices really our own? Patel (2007) answers this question by stating that “Our choices are not entirely our own” but are governed by the power of the food corporations (p.2).
Atkins, P., & Bowler, I. (2001).The origins of taste. In Food in Society: Economy, Culture, Geography (pp. 272-293). London, England: Arnold.
Kuttainen, V. (2013). BA1002: Our Space: Networks, Narrratives and The Making Of Place, Week 7 Notes (PowerPoint).Retrieved from:
Le Billion, K. (2013). Food Marketing to Kids: What Every Parent Should Know. Retrieved from:
Patel, R. (2007). Introduction. In Stuffed and Starved: The hidden battle for the world’s food system (pp. 1-19). Toronto, Canada: Harper Perennial.

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