Food and religion have fascinated me since I was a young teenager and first saw a group of Hare Krishna members distributing free food in the Washington, D.C. mall. Their combination of religious worship, food charity, and proselytization struck me as noteworthy. When one thinks about the many other ways that food and religion interconnect — holidays, rituals, life cycle events, restrictions, etc. — it becomes clear that this is an area of research that demands further attention. I founded and chaired the American Academy of Religion’s Religion, Food, and Eating in North America seminar for its five year run. The Seminar is now closed, but a new program unit on Religion & Food has taken its place.
Our book, Religion, Food, and Eating in North America, is available from Columbia University Press. I co-edited this book with my friends and colleagues Marie W. Dallam, Reid L. Neilson, and Nora L. Rubel. The book considers the ways that adherents of different religious groups engage in religious practices involving food and eating, and how they use food to conceptualize society and their place within it.
“From a Georgia farm to the salmon runs of the Pacific Northwest, from Sylvester Graham to hip vegans, Americans draw tight links between their food and their faith. These essays investigate a broad set of religious traditions, and the results are theoretically rich yet accessible to nonspecialists. The volume helps us think about what it means to be American, as well as what it means to be religious, and forces us to broaden our definition of religion, with implications for health, commerce, and the environment.”
– Daniel Sack, author of Whitebread Protestants: Food and Religion in American Culture
“A welcome addition to the literature on food and religion. No other work compares with it.”
– Ken Albala, coeditor of Food and Faith in Christian Culture
“Fresh and mature fare that nurtures not only our understanding of foodways but also of American religion and the wider study of religions.”
– Charles Wallace, Willamette University