FOOMS is a group of scholars that study food in the context of media and social interactions.
Most researchers are members of MIOS. With MIOS we study media and interpersonal relations in organizations and society, and food is one of our focus areas.
FOOMS focuses on an interdisciplinary approach to study food (and media).
FOOMS researchers study individuals in environments, which means we look at both nature and nurture/cultural aspects that shape human behavior. They combine different research disciplines and often fall back on these domains:
Evolutionary Psychology to study innate mechanisms that underly our food related behavior. For instance, we crave certain foods (sugar rich, fatty) more than others. Yet FOOMS researchers also look at how innate drives for social status, group belonging, fairness or morality shape our relations to food.
Storytelling/ social talk to use as (succesful) vehicles to convey information. People share stories, people gossip, and both can be used as means to vicariously learn from the successes and failures of others. Stories are powerful, often more powerful than informing people with facts and figures, and food and stories are connected in many interesting ways. Dinners create intimate contexts for stories to be told, food media overwhelm us with stories about food and their creators, and food marketeers have found their way into this area as well.
Media as contextual factors that also shape our food related behavior. Most behavior is the outcome of innate drives and contextual factors. We focus on media environments to explain food related behavior. Media may affect our behavior, but we may as well use media to gratify our needs, and we can/must dare to think about how we can optimally use food media to create pleasant and healthy environments to shape our food related behavior.
Charlotte De Backer (FOOMS coordinator) obtained her PhD about gossip/social talk (2005), was trained as an evolutionary psychologist (she worked at the Center for Evolutionary Psychology in Santa Barbara with Leda Cosmides and John Tooby in 2005/6), and later shifted her focus to food studies, where she now aims to merge her different fields of interest and expertise.
FOOMS aims to unite scholars from different disciplines that study:
Food Marketing: all processes between the food producer and the food consumer (we so far mainly focus on food advertising),
Food Media: all media messages about food except for classic advertising. Think of cooking television, websites, but certainly also everything that circulates on social media about food and the many food gurus, and
Social Food studies: food is (also) a social process, and we study the relation between food and identity, commensality, and the power of sharing food on prosocial behavior.