Kitchen Ethnographies

Objectives: This was done for an for an International Packaged Foods Manufacturer.  The goal was to collect household food stories to generate a series of cross-culturally comparable narratives that reveal both change and continuity in values and lifestyles as manifested through food.

Methodology and Process: This was conducted in different parts of the country.  The stories aimed to uncover the personal and cultural meaning of common food-related household events, such as celebrations and holidays, as well as the contours of ordinary day-to-day food preparation and consumption.

  • Self-documentation by a selected group of participant households, who were then visited by ethnographers  for a comprehensive interview on the material they produced.
  • The documentation medium was physical diaries with photographs and text.  These were digitized by the ethnographers.
  • The ethnographers then used their cultural expertise to provide framing commentary on the narratives and to produce a synthesis of important themes and patterns.
  • Each household provided: –a week-long comprehensive photo-and-text diary of routine food purchasing and consumption for the entire household two special stories on food-related activities or events through digital photo illustration and written narrative.