Food and Fiction: Literature and Creative Writing as Food Pedagogy
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Writing about food has proliferated in the last few years and in many ways has been responsible for propelling the food movement, which can be broadly defined as the movement against alienating corporate industrial agriculture, into the mainstream. With the food memoir, or food alienation drama, becoming almost as ubiquitous as the nature memoir, this paper gives due attention to the works of fiction that perhaps less obviously deal with food issues, but nonetheless offer valuable insight. Food is always already storied and stories about food occupy a unique place in that every reader has their own material experience with food. Each reader has their own varied experiences with food and as such they bring with them a wide range of assumptions and understandings based on the role that food occupies in their lives. Both reading and writing offer a moment of intervention into those assumptions. Stories, particularly as they take shape in the novel, have the unique ability to transform our understanding by engaging readers beyond information transmission, making literature an important component of food pedagogy. Creative writing engages the mind and engages language in a way that is different from more formal academic writing, but in a way that is just as valuable. This paper consists of ecocritical readings of two novels—Timothy Taylor’s Stanley Park and Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach—using food as the primary lens, as well as creative responses to those novels, in order to explore how both reading and writing offer different modes of research and inquiry. Together, ecocritical reading and creative writing offer complementary methods of food pedagogy that enhance and enrich the more common hands on approaches of current food pedagogy practices.