“Sustainable Food” Trends in Asia and the Pacific

Transecting “Healthy” and “Sustainable” Food in the Asia Pacific

Food, Culture & Society Special Issue

In the last few years, many new food practices that claim to be “healthy” and “sustainable” have become ubiquitous in Asia and the Pacific. New food trends—such as locavorism, organic eating, switching to brown rice, and plant-based diets, to name just a few—are becoming a significant part of Asian consumer culture. It is far too easy to see these ostensibly healthy and sustainable food trends as a result of diffusion from North America and Western Europe. We seek instead a more complex understanding of the globalization of food, where food knowledge and practices are constantly negotiated, translated, and mixed in complex ways through many different intermediaries and forms of social and mass media, with a great deal of reflexivity and self-consciousness. Hence, while some elements of “healthy” and “sustainable” eating in the Asia Pacific look remarkably similar to their counterparts in North America and Western Europe, there are striking differences as well. The eight papers in this special issue—selected from a workshop conducted in August 2018 at Yale-NUS College—examine a range of food trends in a broad swath of the Asia Pacific region. They include studies of the emergence of locavorism in Hong Kong and the Philippines, the promotion of low carbon and slow food in Taiwan, the introduction of “nutritionism” and healthy dieting in Nauru, the construction of safe foods in Singapore, country chicken and Ayurvedic products in India, and the campaign for brown rice in the Philippines. All underscore the complexities of globalization, illustrating the diverse ways in which the “local” negotiates (and co-constitutes) the “global” both through common processes, and through the specific political economy, culture and history of each geographic context.

Special Issue Content:

Introduction: Transecting “Healthy” and “Sustainable” Food in the Asia-Pacific by Marvin Joseph Montefrio and Richard Wilk

Paper 1: Cosmopolitan Localism: Global Expansion of Local-food Movement in Postcolonial Hong Kong by Hao-Tzu Ho

Paper 2: Country Chicken, Globalization and Discourse: Young Tamil Women’s Cultural Critique by Madeline Chera

Paper 3: Discursively Globalized: Singapore and Food Safety by Nicole Tarulevicz

Paper 4: Transecting Global Encounters—The Fall and Rise of Brown Rice in the Philippines by Shun-Nan Chiang

Paper 5: The Rise of Nutritionism and Decline of Nutritional Health in Nauru by Amy McLennan

Paper 6: Resolving the Stakeholder’s Perception of Sustainable Food in Taiwan: Government’s Low Carbon Food Campaigns vs. Digital Activism of NGOs by Yi-Chieh Lin

Paper 7: A Local Genie in an Imported Bottle: Ayurvedic Commodities and Biomoral Consumption by Venera Khalikova

Paper 8: Philippine Locavorism as Assemblage by Marvin Joseph Montefrio, Jeremy de Chavez, Antonio Contreras, and Dennis Erasga

Here is the link to the Food, Culture & Society special issue.

Published by Marvin Joseph Montefrio

Critical agrarian and food scholar specializing in political ecology, cultural politics, and STS.

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