A project based at the Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research (CEDAR) at the University of Warwick is currently exploring the formal and informal ways in which children and adults experience food and eating in schools. Conducted by Burgess & Morrison during 1993-94, the project forms part of the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) Nation's Diet Initiative. Using data from the project, this paper explores food choice and consumption in relation to the institutional dynamics of two English secondary schools and to pupils' interpretations of internal and external influences upon their understandings about food. Here, the apparent ordinariness of eating is considered alongside multiple perceptions of food as they link to educational experience, and to identities forged from family, gender and media interests. Descriptions and interpretations are explored in terms of coherence and clarity as well as ambivalence and contradiction. Data analysis offers a range of messages for educationists, nutritionists and sociologists. In particular, conclusions point to the need for a continuing reappraisal of the formal and informal mechanisms of food-focused education. When more is being asked of nutrition education in schools, much remains to be evaluated systematically
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