Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. Michael Gardiner


This study uses an exploratory approach to analyze the content of seventy-two individual lifestyle magazines, covering the 2010-2011 monthly publication periods for Chatelaine, Canadian Living and Reader’s Digest. Food content therein is approached from two broad, non-mutually exclusive modes of consumption. The broad-spectrum category of distinction is used to classify food content pertaining to identity, conspicuous consumption, and co-optation. Co-optation is used in a narrow sense to identify the usage of terms reflecting ‘localness’, ‘realness’, and ‘artisanry’. The plundering of these terms by mass marketers acts as a foil to the second broad-spectrum category, ethical food consumption. Ethical consumption as a category in this study comprises socially responsible or socially aware consumption, personal health, and general environmental concerns stemming from criticisms of the industrial food process. Comparisons revealed a gross disproportion favouring distinction elements over ethical elements. Furthermore, an undertone of individualism permeates elements of both distinction and ethical consumption.