There, I said it. Beyond my friendship with Colin Jerolmack (“the pigeon dude”) who has guided me to respect the animals and society section, I just read Mark Bittman’s article in the NYTimes, “Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler” and thought to myself, “sociologists should work more on this relationship”. The Times has been doing a series of articles on meat (Jamie Oliver’s “new goal” of understanding why meat is cheap is less interesting than Bittman’s, but still worth a gander). I have become more and more concerned with our agricultural practices over the last five years. Some of this has nothing to do with sociology, emerging instead through my work as a chef in Madison for a food collective
organized around sustainable food. And some because of casual reading on the issue – in particular Pollan’s book which I found insightful (though the narrative voice annoyed me). Bittman’s piece makes me realize at a full sociological study can (and should!) be done on this relationship.
Perhaps it has been done and I haven’t read it. Yet it sits at the intersection of so many literatures. Political sociology (subsidies), organizational sociology (farming), consumptive practices, globalization, health, etc. It strikes me that no area is more central to our lives than food. We all have to eat every day, and an enormous amount of social organization could be understood in relation to ensuring that that happens. Animals play a key role in food (though I acknowledge to my vegetarian friends, they need not). So why not more on animals and society? And in particular, why not more work on food?