The link between ideology and identity has the potential to be a powerful and transforming catalyst, with food often taking on a symbolic nature outside of its original context. In the article The Soviet Sausage Renaissance (Klumbyte, 2010), the author points towards how the term ‘Soviet’, a word with negative connotations in post-communist Lithuania, has been transformed into a successful marketed brand of sausage. By reinventing the original association of the term Soviet, which denoted “colonization, oppression...and cultural backwardness...of the nation”, the company changed it to a representation of nature and striving for the highest quality (Kumbyte, 2010, p. 23-27).
In relation to maize, this example has manifested in China, albeit in the opposite direction, with the decline of maize consumption. During the Maoist regime in the 1960’s, maize production was linked to the communist ideology of self-sufficiency and strategic necessity over the West (Li, 2007, p. 350). Farmers in southern regions were forced to grow maize instead of rice as part of a ‘grain first’ initiative (Friedman, 1995, p. 326). This lead to resentment of the northern regions by the south and lowered the south’s livestock productivity. Furthermore, in Tibet, as part of political policy to eradicate religion, locals were forced to grow maize crops, which contributed to widespread famine later in the region (Todd & Waller, 2011, p. 157). The communist government’s maize policies proved uneconomic in certain regions and this played a part in the negative identification of maize seen in China today.
As Meng (2006, p. 10-25) notes, local perceptions of wealth in rural China are correlated to relying less on maize farming as a source of income. Maize is perceived as a ‘poor man’s food’, with a low-nutritional value in comparison to rice (Albala, 2011, p. 62). This attitude is not only limited to China, as it can be seen cross-culturally in countries such as Bhutan and Mexico (Katwal et al, 2007, p. 11; Pilcher, 1997, p. 95). China is now witnessing decreased consumption of maize due to two factors: negative identification through communist ideology on one hand and the increase of urbanisation and Western consumer orientated ideology on the other. Urbanisation, along with higher incomes in China, has meant a sharp increase in the consumption of meat products (Delgado, 2003; Ma et al, 2004; Hongbo et al, 2009). This shift reflects the changing attitudes towards maize consumption in China and the movement from one ideology to another over time.
- Quote paper
- Lee Hooper (Author), 2012, Ideologies that Influence, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/233067