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No MSG: Chinese Restaurant Menus, Monosodium Glutamate and the Trope of Risk in Shaping Chinese Culture

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thesis
posted on 23.05.2021, 16:35 by Yvonne Yeung
This paper examines how Chinese restaurants use the message of “No MSG” as a response to the perceived risk of the flavouring agent monosodium glutamate in Chinese cuisine. Using risk communication theory, and treating MSG as material, this paper will investigate how MSG becomes a synecdoche for Chinese food and perpetuates a fear of Chinese culture in Canada. As MSG is scientized as a “risk factor” instead of a flavouring agent, Chinese restaurants respond by messaging “No MSG” as a response to this perceived risk. Using rhetorical analysis of Chinese food menus, this paper identifies how businesses respond to the discursive framework of a “risk” of MSG through messaging found in their take-out food menus. This paper posits that the scientization of MSG as a harmful chemical, specifically in Chinese food, has created a space for biases not only against Chinese food but also Chinese culture in Canada.

History

Language

eng

Degree

Master of Professional Communication

Program

Professional Communication

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

Thesis