Diet arises as a way of expressing power over one’s environment, connoting a person’s place in their culture and is intricately tied to the continuation and uniqueness, or identity, of both self and the cultural-self. Dietary divisions are representative of microdivisions in cultures: the superior diet of students at the Whatson-Crick Institute shows the cultural emphasis on scientific rationality over the humanities at Martha Graham Academy. Visiting Crake, Jimmy feels “like a troglodyte. Living in a cave, fighting off the body parasites, gnawing the odd bone” while Crake, assured of his standing, has no emotional connection to food. “’How’s the food?’ Jimmy asked. ‘It’s food,’ said Crake.” (201). Jimmy is also marked apart from the pleebland hippies by his reliance on mass-culture food, Chickienobs, instead of boiling his own spaghetti. Because of this cultural misstep, Jimmy is ostracized and his girlfriend’s roommates “barely spoke to him.” (242). In the future narrative, Snowman physically sets himself apart from the Crakers via his diet—to visit him, the Crakers travel the “Snowman Fish Path”—and holds himself mentally aloof from the Crakers by a representation of himself as his former cultural diet: “Toast is me. I am toast.” (98). The connective power of diet as a potential cultural bridge is also illustrated by his sentiment: if the Crakers could just understand toast, they might understand Jimmy. The Crakers themselves are supposed to be freed by their vegetarian diet—free from a dependence on highly restricted resources, that is—but Crake’s manipulation of their diet is a direct act of scientific control. The Crakers are instead rendered consumable by their unassuming diet, trivialized by comparisons to food: “chocolate, rose, tea, butter, cream, honey,” smelling like “a crateful of citrus fruit” (8, 102). Their culture is infantilized because they have no dietary form—their diet requires no cooking, no work, no communal gathering over meals or rituals over food preparation and consumption. Their food-related rituals are tied to Snowman, the weekly walk down the “Snowman Fish Path,” giving Snowman direct control over their culture and identity.


Preliminary Bibliography:

Zwart, Hub. “Tainted Food and the Icarus Complex: Psychoanalysing Consumer Discontent from Oyster Middens to Oryx and Crake.” Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics. 28.2 (2015): 255-275. Web.

Parry, Jovian. “Oryx and Crake and the New Nostalgia for Meat.” Society and Animals. 17.3 (2009): 241-256. Web.

Banerjee, Suparna. “Towards ‘feminist mothering: oppositional maternal practice in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake.” Journal of International Women’s Studies 14.1 (2013): 236+. World History in Context. Web. 23 Nov. 2015 

Ingersoll, Earl G. “Survival in Margaret Atwood’s novel Oryx and Crake.” Extrapolation 45.2 (2004): 162+. Academic OneFile. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.


DiMarco, Danette. “Paradice lost, paradise regained: homo faber and the makings of a new beginning in Oryx and Crake.” Papers on Language & Literature 41.2 (2005): 170. Academic OneFile. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.