Thank you for the cured meat, but is it grass-fed? Contested Meanings of Food Parcels in a New Nutrition Transition

Raquel Ajates Gonzalez (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


    Many authors have explored consumption as a key dimension of building and communicating identity. In the case of food consumption, our choices (whether mindful or not) and the supply chains where they are produced and acquired become complex statements of the consumer’s health concerns, perceptions of risk and ethical values; financial messages about the type of farming and supply chains that the eater’s financial and cultural capital helps recreate are also embedded in their food choices. This research conceives consumers as both identity seekers and makers and considers their relation with these invisible, non-sensorial attributes of food. Through the autoethnographic examination of three food parcels sent by relatives in Spain to the author in the UK, this chapter builds on Popkin’s nutrition transition theory to discuss the negotiation of identity and the evolving, constructed and contested meanings of the contents of those parcels. The chapter argues that a new nutrition transition is taking place, led by consumers that aspire to become conscious consumer-citizens defined by their more sustainable and ethical food choices, a new complex category difficult to reduce to quantitative terms and, therefore, difficult to measure. Using Bruno Latour’s distinction between “real enough” objects and “abstracted” objects, the chapter discussed how meanings associated to food parcels change and become more complex through a process of layering of abstractions and meanings. The food items received, their transformation while they travel as well as the reconciled recipes and dishes prepared with them add another layer to the process of negotiation of consumer identity beyond nationality. New assimilated and constantly changing yardsticks are used to judge these familiar food items resulting in an ever-evolving perception of the food parcels’ contents that can both hinder or support the transition to become a consumer-citizen.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationFood Parcels in International Migration
    Subtitle of host publicationIntimate Connections
    EditorsDiana Mata-Codesal, Maria Abranches
    Place of PublicationSwitzerland
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    Number of pages24
    ISBN (Electronic)9783319403731
    ISBN (Print)9783319403724
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • Food parcels
    • Nutrition transition
    • Meat
    • Identity
    • Sustainable diets

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Anthropology
    • Social Psychology
    • Sociology and Political Science


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