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Consuming the Inedible: Neglected Dimensions of Food Choice

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Volume 6

Anthropology of Food & Nutrition

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Consuming the Inedible

Neglected Dimensions of Food Choice

Edited by Jeremy MacClancy, C. Jeya Henry and Helen Macbeth

258 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-353-4 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (December 2007)

ISBN  978-1-84545-684-9 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (October 2009)

eISBN 978-0-85745-533-8 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $29.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


"...contains fascinating material on the social, political, nutritional, and evolutionary aspects of human food choice. Scholars and students in food studies will find Consuming the Inedible useful for its variety of approaches to 'unusual' eating practices, and several of the chapters should also find their way onto reading lists for courses in the anthropology of food."  ·  JRAI


Everyday, millions of people eat earth, clay, nasal mucus, and similar substances. Yet food practices like these are strikingly understudied in a sustained, interdisciplinary manner. This book aims to correct this neglect. Contributors, utilizing anthropological, nutritional, biochemical, psychological and health-related perspectives, examine in a rigorously comparative manner the consumption of foods conventionally regarded as inedible by most Westerners. This book is both timely and significant because nutritionists and health care professionals are seldom aware of anthropological information on these food practices, and vice versa. Ranging across diversity of disciplines Consuming the Inedible surveys scientific and local views about the consequences - biological, mineral, social or spiritual - of these food practices, and probes to what extent we can generalize about them.

Jeremy M. MacClancy is Professor of Social Anthropology at the Anthropology Department, Oxford Brookes University. He is the author of Consuming Culture, and prize-winning investigator of Basque cuisine.

Jeya Henry is Professor of Human Nutrition at the School of Life Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, and Visting Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He was a board member of the UK Food Standards agency between 2000-2003 and has published extensively on energy regulation and obesity.

Helen Macbeth is Chair of ICAF (UK) and Honorary Research Fellow at the Anthropology Department, Oxford Brookes University.

Subject: Food & Nutrition Anthropology (General)


List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Contributors

Introduction: Considering the Inedible, Consuming the Ineffable
Jeremy MacClancy, Helen Macbeth and Jeya Henry

Chapter 1. Evidence for the Consumption of the Inedible: Who, What, When, Where and Why?
Sera L.Young

Chapter 2. Consuming the Inedible: Pica Behaviour
Carmen Strungaru

Chapter 3. The Concepts of Food and Non-food: Perspectives from Spain
Isabel González Turmo

Chapter 4. Food Definitions and Boundaries: Eating Constraints and Human Identities
Ellen Messer

Chapter 5. A Vile Habit? The Potential Biological Consequences of Geophagia, with Special Attention to Iron
Sera L. Young

Chapter 6. The Discovery of Human Zinc Deficiency: A Reflective Journey Back in Time
Ananda S. Prasad

Chapter 7. Geophagia and Human Nutrition
Peter Hooda and Jeya Henry

Chapter 8. Consumption of Materials with Low Nutritional Value and Bioactive Properties: Non-human Primates vs Humans
Sabrina Krief

Chapter 9. Lime as the Key Element: A "Non-food" in Food for Subsistence
Ricardo Ávila, Martín Tena and Peter Hubbard

Chapter 10. Salt as a "Non-food": To What Extent Do Gustatory Perceptions Determine Non-food vs Food Choices?
Claude Marcel Hladik

Chapter 11. Non-food Food During Famine: The Athens Famine Survivor Project
Antonia-Leda Matalas and Louis E. Grivetti

Chapter 12. Eating Garbage: Socially Marginal Food Provisioning Practices
Rachel Black

Chapter 13. Eating Cat in the North of Spain in the Early Twentieth Century
F. Xavier Medina

Chapter 14. Insects: Forgotten and Rediscovered as Food. Entomophagy among the Eipo, Highlands of West New Guinea, and in Other Traditional Societies
Wulf Schiefenhövel and Paul Blum

Chapter 15. Eating Snot: Socially Unacceptable but Common. Why?
María Jesús Portalatín

Chapter 16. Cannibalism: No Myth, but Why So Rare?
Helen Macbeth, Wulf Schiefenhövel and Paul Collinson

Chapter 17. From Edible to Inedible: Social Construction, Family Socialisation and Upbringing
Luis Cantarero

Chapter 18. The Use of Waste Products in the Fermentation of Alcoholic Beverages
Rodolfo Fernández and Daria Deraga

Afterword: Earthy Realism: Geophagia in Literature and Art
Jeremy MacClancy


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