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Food Cults: How Fads, Dogma, and Doctrine Influence Diet

Food Cults: How Fads, Dogma, and Doctrine Influence Diet

by Kima Cargill


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What do we mean when we call any group a cult? Defining that term is a slippery proposition - the word cult is provocative and arguably pejorative. Does it necessarily refer to a religious group? A group with a charismatic leader? Or something darker and more sinister?

Because beliefs and practices surrounding food often inspire religious and political fervor, as well as function to unite people into insular groups, it is inevitable that "food cults" would emerge. Studying the extreme beliefs and practices of such food cults allows us to see the ways in which food serves as a nexus for religious beliefs, sexuality, death anxiety, preoccupation with the body, asceticism, and hedonism, to name a few. In contrast to religious and political cults, food cults have the added dimension of mediating cultural trends in nutrition and diet through their membership.

Should we then consider raw foodists, many of whom believe that cooked food is poison, a type of food cult? What about paleo diet adherents or those who follow a restricted calorie diet for longevity? Food Cults explores these questions by looking at domestic and international, contemporary and historic food communities characterized by extreme nutritional beliefs or viewed as "fringe" movements by mainstream culture. While there are a variety of accounts of such food communities across disciplines, this collection pulls together these works and explains why we gravitate toward such groups and the social and psychological functions they serve. This volume describes how contemporary and historic food communities come together and foment fanaticism, judgment, charisma, dogma, passion, longevity, condemnation and exaltation.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442251311
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 12/16/2016
Series: Rowman & Littlefield Studies in Food and Gastronomy Series
Pages: 278
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Kima Cargill, PhD, is Associate Professor of Psychology at University of Washington, Tacoma. She is the author of The Psychology of Overeating: Food and the Culture of Consumerism, and has published numerous journal articles and book chapters.

Table of Contents

Introduction by Kima Cargill
1. The Psychology of Food Cults by Kima Cargill
2. The Allure Of Food Cults: Balancing Pseudoscience And Healthy Skepticism by Leighann R. Chaffee and Corey L. Cook
3. Food Practices In Early Christianity by Paul A. Brazinski
4. Juicing: Language, Ritual, And Placebo Sociality In A Community Of Extreme Eaters by Samuel Veissière and Liona Gibbs-Bravo
5. Contemporary Superfood Cults: Nutritionism, Neoliberalism and Gender by Tina Sikka
6. Gluttons Galore - A Rising Faction in Food Discourses and Dining Experiences by Carlnita Greene
7. Caving In: The Appeal of the Paleo Diet in the Wake of 9/11 by Lenore Bell
8. "Of Bananas And Cavemen": Unlikely Similarities Between Two Online Food Communities by Amanda Maxfield and Andrea Rissing
9. Eschew Your Food: Foodies, Healthism And The Elective Restrictive Diet By Michele Scott
10. Breaking Bread: The Clashing Cults of Sourdough and Gluten-Free By L. Sasha Gora
11. The Gluten-Free Cult: A World Without Wheat by Jennifer Martin
12. Erasure of Indigenous Food Memories and (Re-)Imaginations by Preety Gadhoke and Barrett P. Brenton
13. "Herb Is For The Healing Of The Nation!" -Marijuana As A Consumable Vegetable Among Ghetto Muslim Youth Of Maamobi In Accra, Ghana by De-Valera Botchway and Charles Prempeh
14. What Makes A Good Mother? Mother's Conceptions Of Good Food by Liora Gvion & Irit Sharir

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