King Research Group member Matt Ventresca has teamed up with fellow Queen’s graduate student Jennifer Brady to examine the ways in which food materializes in and through contemporary discourses surrounding sport and exercise. Ventresca and Brady aim to extend studies of food and eating in fan cultures to include investigations into the ways in which food shapes how we understand athletic identities and training practices. This curiosity has resulted in two papers that consider how widespread cultural meanings and social relations of power are (re)produced through the sport/food nexus.

The first, “Officially a vegan now: On meat and renaissance masculinity in pro football,” follows the story of National Football League player Arian Foster after he announced he was “going vegan” in advance of the 2012 NFL season. Presented at the 2013 Canadian Association of Food Studies conference, this paper considers how Foster’s food choices are situated within the dominant gender formations that pervade professional football (the full version of this paper is currently under review for publication in Food & Foodways). Ventresca and Brady’s second paper, “Food for thought: Notes on food, performance and the athletic body,” explores the use of food as a technology to improve athletic performance and interrogates the taken-for-granted, yet blurry boundaries, that construct food as categorically distinct from other illicit “performance-enhancers.” This paper was presented at the 2013 conference for the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport and is currently under review for publication in the Journal of Sport and Social Issues.

A third ongoing project sees Ventresca and fellow KRG member Victoria Millious working with Brady on a chapter for inclusion in an edited collection of essays related to the field of Food Studies. This work seeks to problematize common sense understandings of milk as a knowable food substance and shed light on the cultural processes through which multiple and contested understandings of milk are produced. This chapter, currently in progress, analyses three key discursive sites: the ways in which milk is constructed through the science of health and nutrition, how discourses around breast feeding and motherhood shape how milk is understood and consumed, and the social implications the recent trend toward marketing milk as a sports drink to be consumed after physical activity.