Food and eating practices formed in childhood have lasting consequences for health and development, establishing the foundation for food preferences, and, through the types and quantities of foods consumed, chronic disease risk. There is little contemporary research into how Aboriginal children are fed and develop their food and eating practices. There is often little consideration for the various meanings of food and eating practices in the lifeworld’s of Aboriginal children and their families, and the historical, social, cultural and material contexts that have produced these practices.
Drawing on ethnographic work in a remote Aboriginal community, this presentation will explore the: children’s socialisation to food and eating practices; meanings and relationships of food within families; and socio-cultural-historical shaping of children’s food and eating practices.
From this research I found that children in this remote community are socialised to eating patterns that fluid and opportunistic, constrained by social obligations, economics and availability. Aboriginal people positioned their eating practices in opposition to munanga (non-Aboriginal) eating patterns. There is ambivalence about the salience of these munanga types of eating patterns in the Aboriginal domain. What children eat and how children are fed is a complex and contested space constructed through contingent and conflicting discourses and embodied experiences.
A more thorough understanding of these complexities and experiences today may provide insight into limits and possibilities of future nutrition improvement strategies.