Dissertation Project: Health and Family Foodwork

My dissertation project is situated within the intersections of food, family and health. Entitled “Health and Cooking in Value and Practice: A Mixed Methods Study of Food in Family Life”, this research explores the meanings that people attribute to food work, in order to learn how food values become translated (or not) into practices for people living in diverse social positions. The goal of this research is to examine how healthy eating is embedded in unequal social structures and individual interactions, while simultaneously recognizing the existence of an obesogenic foodscape that shapes how and why we cook. I approach my research with multiple methods, applying interviews, participant observation, statistical data analysis, and a discourse analysis. This research is conducted under the supervision of Josée Johnston, with Shyon Baumann and Melissa Milkie as additional committee members. Research began on this project in the summer of  2016. It is composed of three papers:

Paper I

This paper utilizes critical discourse analysis and quantitative content analysis to examine North America national news media’s presentation of deteriorating family meals, those whereby families are increasingly replacing meals made with whole, unprocessed ingredients consumed communally around a dinner table, with processed and pre-prepared foods eaten alone or “on the go”, between 2015 and 2016.

Paper II

Paper II deploys a quantitative analysis of data from the American Time Use Survey to explore associations between time spent cooking, the emotional experience of cooking, and health, in interaction with the demographic statues of gender, income, race/ethnicity.

Paper III

Paper III takes a qualitative approach that combines interviews, participant observation, survey questions and prompted 24-hour food recalls to examine in depth the household practices of a case study of families in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Paper III offers a more meaning-based investigation into how people make sense of the discourses defined in Paper I, and will produce insights into the population level patterns analyzed in Paper II.