This book examines the politics and narratives around so-called “superfoods” such as quinoa, kale and rooibos tea, discussing their links to intellectual property, marketing, venture capital and more.
Are superfoods just a marketing device, another label meant to attract the eye? Or do superfoods tell us a deeper story about how food and health relate in a global marketplace full of anonymous commodities?
In the past decade, superfoods have taken US and European grocery stores by storm. Novel commodities like quinoa and moringa, along with familiar products such as almonds and raw milk, are now called superfoods, promising to promote health and increase our energy. While consumers may find the magic of superfoods attractive, the international development sector now envisions superfoods acting as cures to political and economic problems like poverty and malnutrition.
Critical Approaches to Superfoods examines the politics and culture of superfoods. It demonstrates how studying superfoods can reveal shifting concepts of nutritional authority, the complexities of intellectual property and bioprospecting, the role marketing agencies play in the agro-industrial complex, and more. The multidisciplinary contributors draw their examples from settings as diverse as South India, Peru, and California to engage with foodstuffs that include quinoa, almonds, fish meal, Rooibos Tea, kale and açaí.
Wilk, R. and McDonell, E. (eds.) (2022). Critical Approaches to Superfoods. Bloomsbury, London.
Read more here. See also the TABLE explainer What is a healthy sustainable eating pattern? The book includes a chapter by Julie Guthman, who was interviewed on the Feed podcast in the episode Julie Guthman on Capital, Tech and Alternative Food.