Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Dale Miller

Second Advisor

Daniel Sturgis

Third Advisor

Iskra Fileva


This thesis aims to explore aesthetic qualities in contemporary food systems and how they may contribute to environmental change. By focusing on three areas of food consumption that are thought to be environmentally damaging (Meat, The Notion of Local, and Advertisement and Presentation) I discover that aesthetics seem to have a prominent role in shaping our dietary interests and motivating our behavior within these realms. Meat potentially serves as a cognitive aesthetic symbol and causes for conflicting senses of desire, the environmental positivity of local is more supported by aesthetic notions than environmental ones, and advertisement and presentation can cleverly use aesthetics to greenwash products and distance us from feelings of negativity. I also discover that it is by the power of aesthetic desire and the nature of aesthetic responses that aesthetics serve as a useful and salient tool in influencing our perceptions and changing our behavior. In addition, aesthetics are not strictly good or bad in nature, but are a rather a tool that can be utilized in a variety of ways. Potentially even, aesthetic desire may be able to serve the role of changing behavior without having to convince an individual that their behavior needs to change. It is as such that where the motivational gap exists, in food choice and its variety of forms, aesthetics may be a potential solution to fill it.