Jessica Loyer

Jessica Loyer

School of Humanities

Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Economics

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
    2020 - ongoing Researcher Cancer Council South Australia
    2019 - 2020 Research Assistant Cancer Council South Australia
    2017 - ongoing Visiting Research Fellow University of Adelaide, Adelaide
    2017 - 2017 Tutor, Empires in World History University of Adelaide, Adelaide
    2017 - ongoing 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 - ongoing 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 Country Amount
    2015 Scholarship Student Research Grant Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery United Kingdom -
    2014 Scholarship Doreen McCarthy Bursary Australian Federation of University Women South Australia Australia 2750
    2013 Scholarship Research Abroad Scholarship University of Adelaide Graduate Centre Australia -
    2012 Scholarship Australian Postgraduate Award University of Adelaide Australia -
  • 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

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.

Curriculum Developer, William Angliss Institute, Melbourne, 2016-2017:

  • Diet and Health in Society
  • Food Movements and Social Change

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 in Humanities, Business, and Science:

  • History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, 2017
  • Empires in World History, 2017 & 2016
  • Science Communication, 2017 & 2016
  • History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, 2017
  • Innovation and Creativity, 2017
  • Media Research Methods, 2016
  • Food and Drink in World History, 2012
  • Principles of Gastronomy, 2008

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