Metabolic Living: Food, Fat, and the Absorption of Illness in India
Readying the Home
Chapter 3 introduces the blur between food and drugs. It is concerned with absorption between persons and markets. It considers the feature of processing and explores the social lives of processed foods to examine relations crafted between forms of domesticity, market forces, and discourses of bodily threat. Metabolism in this chapter is commercially gendered, through the sciences of food processing and food adulteration. On one hand, because many packaged foods were snacks, physicians and nutritionists derided them for being unhealthy and causing weight gain. On the other hand, their aseptic packaging offered a “clean” alternative to foods tainted by seemingly ubiquitous food adulteration scandals, which housewives attributed to “the nexus” of the masculine urban underworld and corrupt politicians. During the 1990s, advances in food packaging created means to “protect” foods, but also enabled companies to fortify foods with “extra” nutritional additives that could help prevent chronic disease. Packaged foods opened up new possibilities to keep families healthy, while tightening relations between the home and the corporation. This raises questions about what it means to absorb food provided by an unfamiliar other.