Issue 9 Food for Thought:
Food, Embodiment, and Knowledge

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Note From The Editors

The paradox of studying food is that scholars necessarily rely on the very instruments of discourse that reify a hierarchy of the senses designed to render food unworthy of serious thought: Images and texts appeal to the “higher” sense of sight; they “figure the material as intellectual, imaginative, symbolic, aesthetic,” Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson claims (2004, 17). Reason cannot be found in the “lower” senses while eating reminds us too much of our body’s needs. But Krishnendu Ray reminds us that “much of the sociology of the body continues to be devoted to theoretical argumentation focussed on gender, sexuality, and disease, belying the sense that all social action {…} is always embodied” (2016, 26).

Read more in the Note From the Editors

Today’s Special

Cardamom image



In the 1990s, Sebastian Joseph from Palaghat developed the Njallani, a variety of cardamom that now accounts for 70% of all of the spice grown in India. Until Joseph came up with the Njallani, though, conventional yield per hectare (around 2.5 acres) of the crop was 200-250kg. Njallani increased that to 1,500kg.

Joseph discovered Njallani by accident. He has an apiary on his farm; bee-keeping, he thought, would bring in additional income. The bees helped cross-pollinate different varieties of cardamom on his farm and Joseph’s idea was born watching them do that. He isolated varieties that had emerged from cross-pollination (through the simple expedient of throwing a net over them to prevent the bees from sullying the strain) and marked each of them. He then counted the output of these plants, in terms of number of cardamom berries, or capsules. He picked the high-yielding varieties among these, and cross-pollinated them.

A decade later, he developed a variety that produces 120-150 berries (per plant) compared with the 30-40 of normal varieties. He named this Njallani, his family name.

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