The Taste of Others
For Lindenfeld, food is more than sustenance — and a scholarly pursuit. It’s a way of being in the world, a way of connecting with people around her. She is deeply involved in supporting and promoting local, sustainable agriculture and foodways. She and her husband, Roger Sher, belong to a cooking club whose members prepare and study foods from around the globe. She cares about the labor that goes into producing and manufacturing what she eats.
In the face of rising energy costs and environmental concerns that relate to commercial agriculture, Lindenfeld is encouraged to see documentaries such as Food, Inc. and King Corn. But it really bothers her when food media gloss over exploitation of people or the landscape, and there are power struggles and socioeconomic issues at play behind the scenes. When it comes to the things we eat, the stakes are high.
“Food films really underscore how closely woven our consumption is with our belonging in this nation,” says Lindenfeld, who has a joint appointment in the Department of Communication and Journalism, and UMaine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, where her research focuses on issues of disenfranchisement, marginalization and community engagement. “These films that, on the surface, present a fair representation of otherness — whether through sexuality, race, class or gender — always somehow capitulate. That makes me concerned and sad, and that also keeps me coming back to this as a research topic.”