Title

The Dinner Dilemma: How Small Choices Make a Big Impact

Presenter Information

Elizabeth A. Crall
Jeanne Jackson

Start Time

7-10-2006 8:45 AM

End Time

7-10-2006 9:50 AM

Abstract

The occupation of eating dinner, upon first consideration, seems rather ordinary and mundane. Eating is a basic human need for survival, and “dinner” is a construct shared across many cultures. It is an occupation most people living in Western industrialized households do every day. However, when one takes dinner for granted, one also takes for granted the multiple economic, social, and political systems at work throughout the globe that make that dinner possible. In this paper, I will discuss the occupation of eating dinner, and its effect on local and global economics and society, particularly as it relates to the occupational injustice that stems from our modern means of production. In our daily lives, we have contact with many far reaches of the globe, simply as a function of the food that we eat. When the typical American family sits down to dinner, they are sitting down to food that has traveled, on average, 1500-2500 miles from where it was grown or produced, to their local supermarket. Because of technology and globalization, individuals who consume food have grown progressively further removed from those who grow the food. They are not just further geographically, however; their understandings of each other’s daily lives grow further apart as well. Many Western households struggle to make ends meet as wages fail to keep pace with the cost of living. Meanwhile, this quest for lower prices places pressure on growers to keep their cost of production at a minimum, lowering wages for their workers. Much of the food we eat in Western industrialized countries has been scrubbed clean of any evidence of the conditions under which it was produced. This allow Western consumers to purchase foodstuffs without feeling guilty of knowing that their low prices come at the expense of other human beings, often in developing countries, who work for subsistence wages under often-exploitative conditions. This paper will explore the linkages between the daily occupations of food producers and food consumers, and aims to open up a discussion about possible future directions for research and action related to this issue.

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Oct 7th, 8:45 AM Oct 7th, 9:50 AM

The Dinner Dilemma: How Small Choices Make a Big Impact

The occupation of eating dinner, upon first consideration, seems rather ordinary and mundane. Eating is a basic human need for survival, and “dinner” is a construct shared across many cultures. It is an occupation most people living in Western industrialized households do every day. However, when one takes dinner for granted, one also takes for granted the multiple economic, social, and political systems at work throughout the globe that make that dinner possible. In this paper, I will discuss the occupation of eating dinner, and its effect on local and global economics and society, particularly as it relates to the occupational injustice that stems from our modern means of production. In our daily lives, we have contact with many far reaches of the globe, simply as a function of the food that we eat. When the typical American family sits down to dinner, they are sitting down to food that has traveled, on average, 1500-2500 miles from where it was grown or produced, to their local supermarket. Because of technology and globalization, individuals who consume food have grown progressively further removed from those who grow the food. They are not just further geographically, however; their understandings of each other’s daily lives grow further apart as well. Many Western households struggle to make ends meet as wages fail to keep pace with the cost of living. Meanwhile, this quest for lower prices places pressure on growers to keep their cost of production at a minimum, lowering wages for their workers. Much of the food we eat in Western industrialized countries has been scrubbed clean of any evidence of the conditions under which it was produced. This allow Western consumers to purchase foodstuffs without feeling guilty of knowing that their low prices come at the expense of other human beings, often in developing countries, who work for subsistence wages under often-exploitative conditions. This paper will explore the linkages between the daily occupations of food producers and food consumers, and aims to open up a discussion about possible future directions for research and action related to this issue.