SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Klein, Jakob A. (2019) 'Eating potatoes is patriotic: state, market and the common good in contemporary China.' Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 48 (3). pp. 340-359.

Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 (CC BY-NC 4.0).

Download (472kB) | Preview


The article explores recent materials, including cookbooks and a television documentary, backed by the state to promote the potato as a Chinese staple food. These materials attempt to convince would-be eaters that the tuber is a highly nutritious food, suited to modern lifestyles and health concerns, and that it is both cosmopolitan and embedded in Chinese regional food traditions. They articulate a moral economy of food in which the market is a key mechanism for achieving the greater good of national grain security and a healthy population, and in which state and citizen are jointly responsible for “nourishing the people.” Consumers are encouraged to purchase potatoes and potato foods not only to cultivate their own health, but also out of a duty to the well-being of the country. In framing potato-eating as a patriotic act, potato campaigns chime with emerging practices in China of “ethical food consumption.”

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: potato promotion, moral economy, ethical consumption, food security
SOAS Departments & Centres: Regional Centres and Institutes > SOAS China Institute
School Research Centres > SOAS Food Studies Centre
Departments and Subunits > Department of Anthropology & Sociology
ISSN: 18684874
Copyright Statement: © Author(s) 2020. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2020 11:59

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item