Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment
Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment
Agenda

Critical Food Studies Seminar: Food, masculinity and environmental caring

Date: 19 March 2019
Time: 15:30 - 17:00
Location: Wageningen University, Leeuwenborch Building, Hollandseweg 1, Room C62

Programme

15.30-15.40 Walk-in with coffee
15.40-15.45 Introduction and welcome (Dr Stefan Wahlen, Foodscapes Cluster)
15.45-17.00 Sustainable diets, masculinities and environmental caring: Gendered understandings of movements towards sustainable agro-food practices (Dr Paul Hurley & Dr Emma Roe, Geography and Environmental Science, University of Southampton)
17.00-17.30 Discussion with drinks and bites

Abstract:

The impact of industrial scale food production poses significant threats to environmental sustainability. Despite the current rising trends of veganism, ‘flexitarianism’ and ‘reducetarianism’ in some areas, global levels of animal-based protein consumption are on the rise – between 1993-2013 global population increased by 29%, yet global demand for animals’ products increased by 62% (Food and Agriculture Organization (2014) State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014: In Brief (FAO, Rome)). The IPCC has recently suggested that dietary shifts (reducing meat consumption as well as shortening supply chains and lessening food waste), could play a significant factor in climate change mitigation (IPCC (2018) SR1.5).

An often overlooked dimension of sustainability issues is that of gender (see, for instance, UNFCCC’s work on Women and Climate Change).The performance of diverse masculinities is receiving increased attention more widely, following the popular critical label of ‘toxic masculinity’ and its association with a raft of negative practices from the #MeToo campaign, through to weak leadership on global environmental challenges. This is a timely moment to increase studies on the cultural, social and political dynamics that drive the performances of diverse forms of masculinity, in order to appraise how to offer more environmentally sustainable forms of living.

Recent work by Roe and Hurley in their project ‘Man Food: Exploring men's opportunities for 'Becoming an ecological citizen' through protein-related food practices’, focusses explicitly on studying practices of being a man in relation to food and environmental caring. Through a series of participatory workshops, in which researchers cooked, ate and talked with groups of men, they have sought to understand more about the interaction of gendered identity norms and barriers to ecological caring and responsibility. Key findings of the project include the fact that a number of men had experienced shame and bullying about choosing vegetarian food options among groups of other men, and that others were willing to try alternatives to meat-based meals but hadn’t had the social reference points to encourage them to do so (lacking peers who didn’t eat meat, or the skills to cook vegetarian food). More recent work has begun to consider these gendered practices of food and environmental caring within the broader social and political contexts of populism, both in the UK and more widely.

More information: stefan.wahlen@wur.nl