John Noble Masi on the Language of Food
Why do we choose to eat some foods and not others? Is it just about taste and genetics? Or are we getting our cues from societal messages?
These are questions that have fascinated Nick Vagnoni, a senior instructor in the English Department.
A few years ago, Vagnoni – who once freelanced as a food writer – created a course at FIU for students to learn about the rhetoric of food, analyzing the messages society sends about food and the ways we are taught to think about eating.
“We look at a number of different contexts, including advertising, menus and restaurant designs,” says Vagnoni, who is teaching the course this semester. “The class is meant to help people decide their relationship with food. A lot of our conditioning and the rhetoric we see are grounded in deep personal connections related to family, emotion and comfort food. We see a lot of different rhetorical strategies that try to exploit that.”