Language of Food Conference

Food Studies - 2024-01-29
29 Jan 2024 at 10.30 AM - 31 Jan 2024 at 09.00 PM Alumni, Current Students, Industry/Academic Partners, Prospective Students, Public
Organised by:
Keri Matwick

Join us in a three-day symposium delving into the complex relationship between language, food, and culture. Two days of in-person presentations and one day of online presentations.

Jan 29, 30, in-person, 10:30am - 2:30 pm, HSS Conference Room (HSS-05-57)  
Jan 29, 3-4pm, Keynote speaker, HSS Conference Room (HSS-05-57) 

Jan 31, 4-6pm, 7-9pm 


Pure and Made with Sunshine Vitamins: The Language of Safe and Healthy Food in Singapore

Associate Professor Nicole Tarulevicz, School of Humanities, University of Tasmania

Food matters in Singapore, and it has for a long time. As an important trading port in the British Empire with limited physical resources, Singapore relied on global markets for supplies, and for circulating ideas about food safety. Local print culture and overseas publications worked to create knowledge about, and fears of, food and its safety. Canned foods, but especially meats, were at the intersection of anxiety about industrial food production and tropical necessity. Scandals like those about the Chicago meat-packing industry translated into reduced sales, not just of American products, but of meat more generally. Local and international manufacturers responded to consumer anxieties by emphasising the safety of their products through conditions of production, national and industrial, and their health-giving properties.

Cold storage ice cream was thus advertised in relation to factories, its vitamins and fat, it was “actually beneficial to health” and “invaluable for children” and “made in scrupulously clean surroundings.” Tiger beer imagined a world where harried middle-aged men were prescribed restorative Tiger beer by their doctors. Produce from Dominions like Australia and New Zealand were heralded as culturally and literally safe, but still deployed language of safety and health in their advertising. New Zealand’s Anchor butter came with a “chop-mark” – a verifiable imprint that consumers were encouraged to check for. Country of origin was a way in which consumers could establish trust in a commodity. The scientific language of health, from nutrients to sanitation, came to assume a state of safety -unsafe food can not be health-giving. Health was thus a discourse of safety.

Presentation abstracts and schedules are available on the conference website: click here