Food-based Activities versus Material Possessions: Alternatives to Consumption



Published Jan 4, 2015
Robin R. Wikoff


We examine how food-related experiential activities offer different types of intrinsic pleasures, create an alternative path to consumerism, and subsequently affect happiness and well-being. Participant’s perspectives on these activities are compared to those of their favourite material possessions to explore the differences in meaning and motivations. Phenomenological interviews centred on food activities and material possessions revealed that experiential food-related hobbies are valued highly and a source of great life satisfaction because of meeting a variety of psychological needs. These activities offer an alternative conception of what it is to flourish and to enjoy a ‘high’ standard of living as they were found to be mostly intrinsically motivated. Many material possessions also suggested intrinsic aspirations while others showed a mix of both intrinsic and extrinsic aspects. The data reveal that the need for adopting extrinsic life aspirations is not strongly expressed when food-related experiential activities, such as food growing and preparation, are a part of regular life. These food-based activities and certain types of material possessions with intrinsic values encourage a more ecologically sustainable use of resources and reduce social and environmental exploitation associated with consumerism. This research contributes to new modes of thinking about happiness and well-being by supporting the ‘alternative hedonism’ concept as remedy to consumerism.

How to Cite

Wikoff, R. R. (2015) “Food-based Activities versus Material Possessions: Alternatives to Consumption”, The International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food. Paris, France, 22(1), pp. 1–21. doi: 10.48416/ijsaf.v22i1.134.
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