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Library Research Guides

Food Studies

Food Studies is an interdisciplinary field that takes a wide thin slice across the arts, humanities and sciences. Food Studies gathers together knowledge about food as it occurs anywhere in established disciplines, to understand relationships.

Reference Books

Research Help

Because Food Studies is a relatively new field, materials can be hard to find using traditional subject divisions. Because Food Studies is very interdisciplinary, the materials are scattered amongst numerous disciplines and subject areas.

Because there is such diverse and scattered information, this guide provides selected entry points to exploring materials about food, and ways to study it. In any category, there is much more to be found.
Searches using multiple terms are most likely to be successful. For instance, using both a place name and another term, such as “cookery”, “food habits” or “Social life and customs” is a good way to get resources on food in a country or geographic region.

Cookbooks of all eras are important primary source material, as are menus and price lists, accounts of restaurants and other eating places, books on diet, and government information on farming, ranching and food prices. Travel guides, novels, and diaries are also a rich source of information.

In databases, searching for the following terms in titles, or the title and abstract, can be very useful. Try:


Below are some of the most common subject headings you can use to search for Food Studies resources in Library Catalog Search. Searches on most of these subject headings can be narrowed by specifying a geographic subdivision, in the form of the name of a town, region, or country: e.g. Dinners and dining -- France. It can also be useful to limit searches by era, e.g. “Dinners and dining -- France -- History -- 19th century” or “Food prices -- England -- Early works to 1800”.

Generally useful:
Food in particular contexts:
Wine, spirits, etc:
Diet in literature 
Dinners and dining
Eating philosophy
Food consumption
Food habits
Food history
Food in art
Food in literature
Food industry and trade
Food preferences
Food service
Food supply
Food writers
Food writing
Nutritional anthropology
Food -- Biotechnology
Food -- Economic aspects
Food -- Folklore
Food -- Health aspects
Food -- Political aspects
Food -- Religious aspects 
Food -- Research
Food -- Social aspects
Food -- Symbolic aspects

Alcoholic beverages
Drinking customs
Wine and wine making
Wine industry

Or look under specific names for wines, sprits and other drinks,
such as:
Cocktails; Liqueurs; Apple brandy; Brandy; Gin; Rum; Whiskey; Beer; Cider; Wine; Malt liquors; Madeira wine; Port Wine