Jessica Loyer

Jessica Loyer
School of Humanities
Faculty of Arts

Jessica Loyer holds a PhD in Humanities (History/Food Studies) from the University of Adelaide, an MA in Gastronomy from the University of Adelaide and Le Cordon Bleu, and a BA in History from Barnard College, New York. Her research investigates historical and contemporary food and nutrition culture, as well as seeks to conceptually connect food production and consumption through interdisciplinary social research methods.

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Jessica Loyer

Jessica Loyer holds a PhD in Humanities (History/Food Studies) from the University of Adelaide, an MA in Gastronomy from the University of Adelaide and Le Cordon Bleu, and a BA in History from Barnard College, New York. Her research investigates historical and contemporary food and nutrition culture, as well as seeks to conceptually connect food production and consumption through interdisciplinary social research methods.

Superfoods have emerged as an increasingly significant category of health food products and related popular discourse about food and health. They are celebrated for their purported extraordinary nutritional and/or medicinal values, ‘natural’ qualities, associations with ‘exotic’ or ‘pristine’ places of origin, and histories of traditional or indigenous use. However, the term ‘superfood’ defies precise definition, and both products and discourse are poorly understood by the public and regulatory bodies.

Existing scholarship has examined social, cultural, political, and economic aspects of related concepts and products, such as functional foods and low carbohydrate diets, demonstrating ways in which new forms and ideas emerge through the convergence of nutritional science discourse, globalised food provisioning, and the commodification of food and health. These studies have largely focused on the nutritional anxieties felt by Western consumers. Other literature has paid greater attention to the impacts of the globalisation and industrialisation of food and agriculture on producers, often located in the developing world. Research bridging worlds of food production and consumption is called for, but only recently beginning to emerge in the scholarly literature.

There is currently no existing scholarship examining superfoods in particular. Because superfoods can be understood both as a discourse about food and health and a group of agro-food products, they offer a distinctive lens through which to conceptually bring together geographically (and, often, socioculturally) distant worlds of production and consumption. In drawing together these diverse worlds, I employ a ‘biography-of-things’ approach inspired by the work of Appadurai and Kopytoff. Drawing upon assemblage theory, actor network theory, and circuits of culture theory, and employing a case study design encompassing diverse social science methodologies, this study examines the emergence of superfoods as a sociocultural form.

The research demonstrates how a range of seemingly disparate existing elements, including developments in nutritional science, neoliberal trade agendas, traditional indigenous knowledge, food processing and transportation technologies, changing ideas about food, health, and ethics, and the proliferation of digital media, are drawn together in the creation of a new form with broad social and environmental impacts. It has implications for future research into the cultural power of in-between (food) objects and the ways in which they enable us to examine the tensions that pull at contemporary food culture.

Appointments

Date Position Institution name
2017 Visiting Research Fellow University of Adelaide, Adelaide
2017 - 2017 Tutor, Empires in World History University of Adelaide, Adelaide
2017 Curriculum Developer William Angliss Institute
2016 - 2016 Tutor, Media Research Methods University of Adelaide
2016 - 2017 Tutor, Communicating Science University of Adelaide, Adelaide
2016 - 2017 Research Assistant, Media and Food Politics University of Tasmania
2016 - 2016 Tutor, Empires in World History University of Adelaide
2015 - 2015 Research Assistant, Sustainable Food Systems University of Tasmania
2015 - 2015 Guest Lecturer, Food and Drink in World History University of Adelaide
2013 Research Assistant, Food Values Research Group University of Adelaide
2012 - 2012 Tutor, Food and Drink in World History University of Adelaide
2008 - 2008 Tutor, Principles of Gastronomy University of Adelaide

Awards and Achievements

Date Type Title Institution Name Amount
2015 Student Research Grant Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery
2014 Doreen McCarthy Bursary Australian Federation of University Women South Australia
2013 Research Abroad Scholarship University of Adelaide Graduate Centre
2012 - 2015 Australian Postgraduate Award University of Adelaide

Language Competencies

Language Competency
Spanish; Castilian Can read, speak and understand spoken

Education

Date Institution name Country Title
2012 - 2016 University of Adelaide Australia PhD
2006 - 2007 University of Adelaide and Le Cordon Bleu Australia MA
1998 - 2002 Barnard College United States BA

Research Interests

Consumption and Everyday Life, Cultural Studies, Globalisation and Culture, History, Media Studies, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Social and Cultural Geography, Social Sciences Methods, Social Studies of Science and Technology

Book Chapters

Year Citation
2016 Loyer, J. (2016). Superfoods. In P. B. Thompson & D. M. Kaplan (Eds.), Encyclopedia of food and agricultural ethics (pp. 1-7). Springer Netherlands. 10.1007/978-94-007-6167-4_574-1
2014 Loyer, J. (2014). Functional Foods as Commodities. In P. Thompson & D. Kaplan (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics (pp. 1064-1072). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer. 10.1007/978-94-007-0929-4

Conference Papers

Year Citation
2017 Loyer, J. (2017). What makes a superfoods “super”? The discursive construction of utopian edibles. The 21st Symposium of Australian Gastronomy. Melbourne, Australia.
2016 Loyer, J. (2016). Communicating superfoods: a case study of Maca packaging. Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2015. M. McWilliams (Ed.) Oxford, UK.

Conference Items

Year Citation
2017 Loyer, J. & Beckett, E. (2017). Does nutrition science (mis)inform our diets?. Emerging Issues in Science and Society. Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.
2016 Loyer, J. (2016). Marketing Australian Chia Seed: Functional Nutritionism Meets Nutritional Primitivism. Scarborough Fare: Global Foodways and Local Foods in a Transnational City. Joint 2016 Annual Meetings & Conference of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society (AFHVS), Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS), & Canadian Association for Food Studies. Toronto, Canada.
2016 Loyer, J. & Buddle, E. (2016). A 'Natural' Symbol: Nature, Morality, and Politics in Online Raw Milk Advocacy Communities. Food Politics: From the Margins to the Mainstream. University of Tasmania.
2014 Loyer, J. (2014). Contesting Definitions of Sustainability in the Massachusetts Cranberry Industry. International Food Studies Conference. Adelaide, Australia.
2014 Loyer, J. (2014). Jewish Sabbath Cooking in Australia: One Pot, Many Meanings. Australian Association of Jewish Studies Conference. Adelaide, Australia.

Theses

Year Citation
2016 Loyer, J.; (2016); The Social Lives of Superfoods;
2007 Loyer, J.; (2007); A pot of many meanings : the shifting shape and symbolism of Shabbat stew from the old world to the new;

Internet Publications

Year Citation
2016 Loyer, J.; (2016); Smoothies as talismans: the allure of superfoods and the dangers of nutritional primitivism;

2015. Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery Student Research Grant.

2014. Australian Federation of University Women South Australia, Doreen McCarthy Bursary

2013. University of Adelaide Graduate Centre Research Abroad Scholarship.

2012-2015. Australian Postgraduate Award.

Guest Lecturer, Food and Drink in World History, 2015. 

  • Continuity and Change in Central and South American Foodways
  • Food and Medicine in Latin America
  • Food and Gender
  • History of Nutrition and Dietary Advice

Tutor, Food and Drink in World History, 2012.

Tutora, Principles of Gastronomy, 2008.

Memberships

Date Role Membership Country
2016 - ongoing Member Cultural Studies Association of Australasia Australia
2016 - ongoing Member Association for the Study of Food and Society

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