Natural Food and the Pastoral: A Sentimental Notion? [Book Review]

The term natural is effective in the marketing of a wide variety of foods. This ambiguous term carries important meaning in Western culture. To challenge an uncritical understanding of natural with respect to food and to explore the ambiguity of the term, the development of Western ideas of nature is first discussed. Personification and hypostasization of nature are given special emphasis. Leo Marx’s idea of the pastoral design in literature is then used to explore the meaning of natural as applied to food, emphasizing Marx’s distinction between a sentimental and a complex pastoral. The latter is applied to natural as a means of collapsing a dichotomy of man and nature to the idea of second nature. From this perspective an understanding of the industrialization of the food system and the importance of local and organic food are considered. The extent to which processed foods might properly be considered natural is raised and discussed for several common foods. Although marketing of natural foods might make us think that we consume nature, I suggest that what is consumed is more appropriately second nature. I suggest that in order to maintain a critical perspective about one’s relationship to the natural world, everyone should make an attempt to experience the complex pastoral with respect to at least something that is consumed as food. When nature is understood as second nature in the context of a complex pastoral, the question of whether a food or ingredient is to be considered natural is replaced by deliberative thought based on our best knowledge and judgment, and the result will be less constrained by ideology
Keywords Natural food  Ideas of nature  Hypostasized nature  Leo Marx  Complex pastoral  High-fructose corn syrup
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DOI 10.1007/s10806-010-9245-7
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The Morality of Happiness.Julia Annas - 1993 - Oxford University Press.
The Hellenistic Philosophers.A. A. Long & D. N. Sedley - 1987 - Cambridge University Press.
Metaphysics. Aristotle - 1960 - Univ of Michigan Pr.
The Agrarian Roots of Pragmatism.Paul B. Thompson & Thomas C. Hilde (eds.) - 2000 - Vanderbilt University Press.

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