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The Intersection of Food & Culture

Ethan Watters | October 25, 2022


Discover how the skills and critical thinking of a cultural anthropologist offer a unique perspective to understand consumers — how and why consumers buy food and the role food plays in their lives.

Ethan Watters, Head of Story at Attention Span Media interviews Dr. Tanya Rodriguez, senior cultural anthropologist at Hormel Foods. Attention Span has been a strategic and thought leadership partner of Hormel Foods for nearly a decade. Learn how an anthropologist uses her boots on the ground technique to discover the day-to-day habits of consumers. Sitting at the intersection of culture and food, Dr. Rodriguez’s work influences how Hormel Foods approaches product development, growth, innovation, new markets and sustainability.

Dr. Rodriguez has documented a new wellspring of creativity in restaurants and home kitchens across the country. Social media has become a particularly vibrant environment for connoisseurs and home cooks alike to share their preferences, recipes and family traditions and learn about those of others. “People in lower socioeconomic strata are very innovative and very savvy,” she says. “I’m a passionate supporter of the value consumer. They’re some of the best cooks around.” Oftentimes, she’s watched consumers use convenience foods and pre-cooked meals to put new spins on traditional dishes — saving themselves both time and money. Understanding and helping the value consumer be food secure is a core part of who Hormel Foods is and its mission to bring nutritious and affordable foods across the world.

The Language of Food
For anthropologist Tanya Rodriguez, every meal tells a story
Meet Tanya