Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Marketers promoting mass-produced frozen food in France during the industry’s early years in the 1960s and 1970s bet on what they presented as fast freezing’s superiority over canning. Maintaining that fast freezing better preserved the natural flavors, aromas, and nutrients of foods, one early advertisement, for example, proclaimed an end to seasonality. Bold-faced text alongside tempting images of plump, vibrant produce invited consumers to enjoy “fresher-than-fresh strawberries, peas, and string beans at any time of the year” (La Société Norval, 1968). Fast-forward to today’s frozen food landscape in France, and much appears to have changed. Picard Surgelés, a frozen food company with a significant presence in the country, has for the past several years relied heavily on the notion of seasonality by regularly showcasing in-season foods and dishes in its monthly marketing magazine. This paper considers this development, linking it to shifting food politics, particularly the rise of the local food movement in France and elsewhere. More broadly, I explore how Picard’s focus on seasonality opens a window into the complex cultural construction of nature in a context—the frozen food marketplace—that not only seems far removed from the natural world, but whose existence was at least in the beginning predicated upon subverting that world’s order. Ultimately, I argue that Picard’s renderings of the seasons and of nature more broadly closely align with well-entrenched tropes about French foods and their presumed connection to specific natural places.