chapter  3
21 Pages

The Greeks to the Christians: From ethics to guilt

In order to better examine the fabrication of the modern subject of food choice – especially with regard to nutrition and health – and its historical specificity, we look in this chapter at the way food and health were understood before the emergence of the modern subject of food choice. We will do this by examining the construction of food, health and the self at three historical moments in Western culture, these being ancient Greece (fourth century BC), Imperial Rome (second century AD), and early to high Middle Ages. It is important to state here that the purpose of this chapter is not to map out a seamless history of food conduct prior to the development of the modern science of food choice. The intention is, rather, to highlight historical (dis)continuities as important events in the way conduct around food has been understood. In other words, this chapter will, after Foucault, look at changes in understandings about food and the self from the perspective of difficult differences, rather than easy similarities (McHoul and Grace, 1993: 111).