Self-consumption and food security: family agriculture based on eating knowledge and practices

OBJECTIVE: To identify and to analyze eating classifications and representations as well the food production and consumption practices among farmers from Vale do Taquari (Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil). METHODS: The data and information were collected from interviews and participatory observation, oriented by qualitative methods. The research involved 48 rural families from three different localities in 2004 and 2005. The theoretical and analytical resources were provided by food anthropology and reciprocity approach. RESULTS: The production of food for self-consumption among the studied families is significant and the main producers are women. Food practices have changed as a result of agricultural modernization and increased use of industrialized products, yet they maintain local specificity and are related to several expressions of sociability such as food exchanges and community parties. These are permeated by symbolisms that update the way of living and assure food security. CONCLUSION: The production practices for autoconsumption of the studied families are associated with food security and, in this way, to social reproduction strategies. Food exchanges and food choices express relationships of sociability and identity in the studied rural communities. Social and cultural aspects and different levels of social relationships are undergoing a transformation which may jeopardize the food security of the families. Such processes are inspiring new studies.

Anthropology, cultural; Food consumption; Food habits; Gender identity; Rural population; Food security

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