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Your textbook discusses the Omnivore’s Dilemma (p 5)- that with our ability as a species to eat a wide range of foodstuffs, we face the dilemma of what to eat. Edibility of food sources is often based not just on our bodies but on our culture.
For this activity, you will explore your own cultural ideas about edibility and how these are influenced by marketing. You will examine how marketing techniques influence what we eat.
BACKGROUND
In the United States food companies spend billions of dollars promoting products each year. These advertisements influence our food choices and are deeply connected with our cultural views of food. Most marketing focuses on heavily processed food (fast food, convenience foods, candy, soft drinks, etc.). Marketing techniques are aimed at influencing the food choices of not just adults but also children.
FIELDWORK
Be sure to answer all of the following questions. You will want to use the appropriate number and letter for each of your responses.
1. Explore your own Neophilia (desire to try new foods) and Neophobia (Fear of new foods).
a) What are examples of foods you will gladly try or eat? What are examples of foods that you will not eat/ do not see as edible? How does your culture influence what foods you are willing to try and those you would react to in fear?
b) How might ethnocentrism play a role in our neophilia or neophobia related to food?
2. Next, select a food that is often advertised in the media (e.g., a favorite or specific type of soft drink, energy drink, alcoholic product; fast food restaurant; a specific type of chips; animal products-chicken, beef, pork; baby formula, etc.). Now find 3-4 advertisements for this food. These may be commercials or print ads.
a) What food type did you select?
b) Which types of advertisements did you select? (print media? commercials? a combination of these?)
3. Now conduct analysis of the marketing strategies employed to promote these foods.
a) Which marketing techniques were apparent in these ads? (use of celebrities to promote product, enhanced image of the food [making it look better than it is in real life], health claims, claims about taste or popularity of the product). In other words, how is this advertisement meant to convince you to buy this product?
b) Who is the audience for which these ads are intended? Is it marketed towards a specific group (teens, children, elderly, adults? Are there gendered messages presented- e.g., “manly food”)
c) How might advertisements such as these influence cultural views of food? How might these have an impact on you and your family?

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