The ‘more-than-food’ geographies of omega-3s

Browne, Danielle (2022) The ‘more-than-food’ geographies of omega-3s. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Omega-3s are known and understood scientifically from the perspective of a biochemist. From this perspective, it is a polyunsaturated fatty acid, also known as a PUFA. Several well-known benefits are associated with this macronutrient, including heart health, brain health, and early childhood development. However, omega-3s can also be fruitfully considered what Aya Hirata Kimura would call a “charismatic nutrient.” Approaching omega-3s as a charismatic nutrient allows me to reveal controversies and the socio-political networks associated with this important macronutrient. This research aims to examine omega-3s as a charismatic nutrient by focusing on the sociopolitical networks that support this macronutrient. The research is also framed through recent approaches to the geography of food and nutrition. The thesis is organized into 2 chapters. In chapter 2 the focus is on two controversies associated with omega-3s, namely reports on the declining levels of omega-3s in farmed salmon, and reports that farmed salmon also contain toxic chemicals such as methylmercury. The approach in this chapter is controversy mapping, a methodology that allows researchers to bring controversies ‘down to earth’. Key findings include the way a single scientific fact is used by different actor networks, the source of knowledge on farmed salmon nutrition, and the actors that are absent from these networks. While controversy mapping is a key method for brining utterances back down to earth, care must be taken in interpreting some of the results of the analysis. Chapter 3 considers another problem associated with omega-3s, but in this case global deficiencies in this important macronutrient. I examine two proposed solutions to this problem and critically assess them through more-than-food approaches to food geography. The proposed solutions involve shifting land-sea sources of food (Omega-3 World) and improving the efficiency of omega-3 systems (Systems World). Using the more-than-food approaches allows me to critically assess these proposals by revealing what I call the Real World of omega-3s. In this real world of omega-3s the problem of global deficiencies is unlikely to be solved.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 15827
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references
Keywords: omega-3, more-than-food, controversy mapping, food geography
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Geography
Date: October 2022
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Omega-3 fatty acids; Controversy mapping; Agricultural geography

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