Mobile Eating: A Cultural Perspective

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Abstract

Over 80 percent of North Americans regularly eat in the car, yet neither mobility literature nor expanding discussions of food cultures focus on the practice. Two studies shed light on eating in the car. First, North American’s distinct, dynamic, and embedded mobile food infrastructure is outlined via discussion of noteworthy innovations - from the 19th century dining car to the 21st century drive thru - that food entrepreneurs constructed to facilitate eating on the go. Second, four exploratory focus groups investigate the meanings and practices drivers associate with eating in the car. Together findings suggest that eating in the car is compromised by the demands of accelerating modernity. Framing eating in the car as simply another facet of an obesity crisis, as culinary preference, or personal choice and responsibility limits full understanding of the cultural anxieties, environmental and health risks surrounding this widespread food practice.

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