Forkways #13: Questions About Food


I came to study food as a way of entry into communes and intentional communities across the country. I though that even the most private group would most likely be willing to share a meal. The following is a draft of interview questions I created for field work I hoped to do on intentional communities and their mealtime practices.

Intentional Community food survey


How many people live in the community?
Adult. Children.
Is there a limit to how many people can live or visit?
What is this limit based on?
How are members selected?
How many people visit the community?
Does a distinction between these change the nature of meals?
Is food grown on the property?
What is the size of the lot?
What is the size of plots dedicated to which grown food?
It any food sold or traded outside of the community?


How are meals structured?
Do they follow traditional meal breakdowns?
Where does the food come from?
What is the food served on?
How is the food served?
Who prepares the food? is it different day to day, meal to meal? Are these assigned roles? Are there pleasure based roles? Are these whimsically based roles? (I feel like doing it today so I will do it.)
Does each person fend for themselves?
Where is the food eaten?
What does the table/chairs look like?
What do the utensils and plates look like?


What food do they have for breakfast?
Who prepares breakfast?
What time of day do they eat breakfast?
Do they eat breakfast together?
What food is served? How many items? How many ingredients?
Hot or cold?


What food do they have for lunch?
Who prepares lunch?
What time of day do they eat breakfast?
Do they eat lunch together?
What food is served? How many items? How many ingredients?
Hot or cold?
Table or bag?


What food do they have for dinner?
Who prepares dinner?
What time of day do they eat dinner?
Do they eat dinner together?
What food is served? Hany items? How many ingredients?
Hot or cold?


Do they snack?
What do they snack?


Who provides the food?
Do they farm?
Do they buy food?
Do they raise animals?
Do they have an herb garden?
Do they have a vegetable garden?
If they buy food where do they get the money?


What foods are special?
What food are avoided?
Does anyone forage?
Does anyone hunt?
What percentage of food comes from inside the community.

Why did you join the community?
How long have you been here?
Did you come with friends or family?
Are they still here?
Do you eat food prepared in or by the community?
Are you involved in the growing of this food?
Are you involved in the preparation of the food?
Picking, washing, chopping, cooking.
How satisfied are you with the taste of the food?
How satisfied are you with the health of the food?
How satisfied are you with the sustainability of the food?
Are there any particular food items you miss?

What food items are your favorite?

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