Skip to main content

Sweet talking: Food, language, and democracy

  • Guy Cook (a1)

At a time of diminishing resources, the sum of apparently minor personal decisions about food can have immense impact. These individual choices are heavily influenced by language, as those with vested interests seek to persuade individuals to act in certain ways. This makes the language of food politics a fitting area for an expanding applied linguistics oriented towards real-world language-related problems of global and social importance. The paper draws upon five consecutive research projects to show how applied linguistics research may contribute to public policy and debate, and also how, by entering such new arenas, it can develop its own methods and understanding of contemporary language use.

Hide All
AEBC (Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Committee) (2003). GM nation? The findings of the public debate.
Ambler-Edwards S., Bailey K., Alexandra K., Lang T., Lee R., Marsden T., Simons D. & Tibbs H. (2009). Food futures: Rethinking UK strategy (Chatham House Report). London: Chatham House.
Bakhtin M. M. (1984). Rabelais and his world. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
Blair T. (2002). Science matters. Speech to The Royal Society.
Block D. (2008). On the appropriateness of the metaphor of LOSS. In Rubdy R. & Tan P. (eds.), Language as commodity: Global structures, local marketplaces. London: Continuum, 187203.
Bourdieu P. (1977). Outline of a theory of practice (translated by Nice R.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Brumfit C. J. (1995). Teacher professionalism and research. In Cook G. & Seidlhofer B. (eds.), Principle and practice in applied linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2741.
Cook G. (2003). Applied linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cook G. (2004). Genetically modified language. London: Routledge.
Cook G. (2007a). It's only bacon for God's sake. Beyond the Spin 17 October 2007 (special issue: Food), 5–7.
Cook G. (2007b). Organic shoppers want facts, not just stories. Organic and Natural Business August–September 2007, 6–7.
Cook G. (2007c). ‘This we have done’: The different vagueness of poetry and PR. In Cutting J. (ed.), Vague language explored. London: Palgrave, 2140.
Cook G. (2008). Hysteria and hyperbole – which side is it on? In Thomas (ed.), 30–35.
Cook G. (2009). Sense about science. The Ecologist February 2009, 82.
Cook G. & O'Halloran K. (1999). Label literacy: Factors affecting the understanding and assessment of baby food labels. In O'Brien T. (ed.), Language and literacies (BAAL Studies in Applied Linguistics 14). Clevedon: BAAL in association with Multilingual Matters, 145157.
Cook G., Pieri E. & Robbins P. T. (2004). ‘The scientists think and the public feels’: Expert perceptions of the discourse of GM food. Discourse and Society 15.4, 433449.
Cook G., Reed M. & Twiner A. (2009). ‘But it's all true!’: Commercialism and commitment in the discourse of organic food promotion. Text and Talk 29.2, 151173.
Cook G., Robbins P. T. & Pieri E. (2006). ‘Words of mass destruction’: British newspaper coverage of the GM food debate, and expert and non-expert reactions. Public Understanding of Science 15.1, 529.
Cook V. (2002). The functions of invented sentences: A reply to Guy Cook. Applied Linguistics 23.2, 263272.
Fromartz S. (2006). Organic, INC. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brown.
Gregory J. & Miller S. (1998). Science in public. Cambridge, MA: Perseus.
Lawrence F. (2004). Not on the label. London: Penguin.
May Lord R. (2002). How to choose tomorrow, rather than just letting it happen, as scientific understanding advances. Oxford Presidential Anniversary Address to the Royal Society 2002.
Monbiot G. (2000). Beware the appliance of science. The Guardian 24 February 2000.
Rayson P. C. D. (2008). Wmatrix: A web-based corpus processing environment
Robbins P. T., Pieri E. & Cook G. (2004). GM scientists and the politics of the risk society. In Haugestad A. K. & Wulfhorst J. D. (eds.), Future as fairness: Ecological justice & global citizenship. Amsterdam & New York: Rodopi Press, 85105.
Scott M. (2005). Help menu. Wordsmith Tools. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Stubbs M. (2001). Words and phrases. Oxford: Blackwell.
Talbot M. (2007). Media discourse: Representation and interaction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Thomas P. (ed.) (2008). GM seeds of change or fool's gold. Special issue of The Ecologist November 2008.
Tormey S. (2007). Consumption, resistance and everyday life: Ruptures and continuities. Journal of Consumer Policy 30.3, 63280.
Vickers B. (1988). In defence of rhetoric. Oxford: Clarendon.
WHO (World Health Organization) (1981). The international code of marketing of breastmilk substitutes.
Wynne B. (2001). Creating public alienation: Expert cultures of risk and ethics on GMOs. Science as Culture 10.4, 445481.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Language Teaching
  • ISSN: 0261-4448
  • EISSN: 1475-3049
  • URL: /core/journals/language-teaching
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 11
Total number of PDF views: 83 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 286 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.