Politics of Food, the Culinary and Ethnicity in Ruth Ozeki’ My Year of Meat: An Ecocritical Reading

Saeed Kalejahi


The Canadian-American-Japanese writer and filmmaker Ruth Ozeki’ My year of Meat is built around one major nutritional source—protein or meat or, more exactly, beef. Applying an ecocritical method, but at the same time trying to not fall into the trap of mere ideology, the present article explores the question of authenticity and representation of politics of food, culinary and ethnicity in the aforementioned novel. In the following essay I will argue that in her novels, Ruth Ozeki employs a three-step narrative strategy: invocation, subversion, and redefinition.  The problem Ozeki addresses in this novel is that of disclosing the invisible reality behind the visible surface of that which poses as the real. In doing so she moves the problem of authenticity beyond the realm of ethnic and culinary culture. Rather than examining it as a form of ethnic “self-exoticization” or treating it merely as a fiction about cultural purity, she presents the authentic as an indispensable attribute of an ecologically viable culture and as a marker of representational sincerity in a globalized media economy.


ethnicity, ethics, hybridity, the culinary, representation, authenticity, inauthenticity intranarrative, resignification

Full Text:



Arnold, G. (2001, January 18). Musical protein. Metro: Silicon Valley’s Weekly Newspaper. Retrieved August 26, 2008, from http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/01.18.01/red-meat-0103.html.

Clyne, C. (2003). Creating novel life forms—literally: the sataya interview with Ruth Ozeki. Retrieved August 26, 2008, from http://www.ruthozeki.com/reviews/satya.html.

Dudley, N. (1996). Authenticity as a means of measuring forest quality. Biodiversity Letters, 3, 6-9.

Joulie, L. (2002). Red meat: Alameda County line. Take country back. (February): Retrieved August 26, 2008, from http://www.takecountryback.com/reviews/redmeat0202.htm.

Erkkila, B. (1989). Whitman the political poet. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gigante, D. (2005). Taste: a literary history. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Foster, H. (1996). The return of the real: the avant-garde at the end of the century. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Grosz, E. (2005). Time travels: feminism, nature, power. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Horowitz, R. (2006). Putting meat on the American table: taste, technology, transformation. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Jonas, H. (1984). The imperative of responsibility: in search of an ethics for the technological age. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Karem, J. (2004). The romance of authenticity: the cultural politics of regional and ethnic literature. Charlottesville: The University of Virginia Press.

Sontag, S. (2007). At the same time: essays and speeches. London and New York: Penguin Books.

Sze, J. (2006). Boundaries and border wars: DES, technology, and environmental justice. American Quarterly, 58(3), 791-814.

Taylor, C. (1991). The ethics of authenticity. Cambridge, MA and London, England: Harvard University Press.

Trilling, L. (1971). Sincerity and authenticity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Whitman, W. (1983). Leaves of grass. (The 1892 Edition). New York et al.: Bantam Books.

Witt, D. (1999). Black hunger: food and the politics of U.S. identity. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/ijalel.v.1n.1p.82


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.