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Elemental Eating: Samoan Public Health and Valuation in Health Promotion

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Title:Elemental Eating: Samoan Public Health and Valuation in Health Promotion
Authors:Hardin, Jessica
Kwauk, Christina Ting
Keywords:health promotion
public health
show 1 morenutrition
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LC Subject Headings:Oceania -- Periodicals
Date Issued:2019
Publisher:University of Hawai‘i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation:Hardin, J., and Kwauk, C. T. 2019. Elemental Eating: Samoan Public Health and Valuation in Health Promotion. The Contemporary Pacific 31 (2): 381–415.
Abstract:In this article, we suggest that indigenous foods are valorized and expanded through their re-signification as nutritious in Samoan health promotion campaigns. These campaigns elucidate how public health selectively values culture while extending the category of indigenous food to include non-autochthonous fruits and vegetables, in turn reshaping meanings associated with indigenous foods in relation to health. We first present material that demonstrates the impact of health promotion materials on food knowledge. We then highlight how nutri- tion as a value dominates official accounts and explore health promotion tools that have encouraged audiences to deconstruct food into constitutive parts, particularly negative nutrients like fat and salt. We call this “elemental eating,” which mutes the distinction between imported, new foods and indigenous, local foods by foregrounding nutritional components. Finally, we examine a recent media campaign that presented a new food category, mea‘ai paleni, as a hybrid of indigenous and local foods. Health promotion in this context revalues indigenous foods, broadening the category by promoting a scientistic framework for understanding nutrition. This interpretive framework reorganizes food categories from strictly new, imported foods and local, indigenous foods to healthy and unhealthy foods, reflecting epidemic discourses in both local media and scholarship while also complicating the typical epidemiological representation of the nutrition transition.
Pages/Duration:35 pages
Appears in Collections: TCP [The Contemporary Pacific], 2019 - Volume 31, Number 2

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