"If the Food Looks Dodgy I Dinnae Eat It" : teenagers' accounts of food and eating practices in socio-economically disadvantaged families
This paper examines how young teenagers living in socio-economically disadvantaged families perceive everyday food and eating practices within the home. From in-depth interviews with 36 Scottish teenagers aged 13-14 years, we analysed teenagers’ accounts of contemporary ‘family meals’. We found that food and eating practices were negotiated amidst complex family arrangements with extended, resident and non-resident kin. Parents were often reported to provide food ‘on demand’, a flexible arrangement which seemed to reflect both teenagers’ and parents’ lifestyles and personal relationships. Teenagers often contested the consumption of particular foods which sometimes reflected and reinforced their relationship with a biological or non-biological parent. Teenagers could differentiate themselves from others through their food preferences and tastes and food consumption therefore helped shaped their identity. Many teenagers claimed that parents set rules regarding food and eating, thereby creating boundaries within which their consumption choices had to remain. We discuss whether and how these findings are a reflection of the socio-economic status of the participating families and conclude that exploring food and eating practices is a powerful lens for the examination of family life.