The article deals with the sociology of food. In western sociology this field was developed in 1980s and 1990s, in Russia it is only in its beginnings although the sociological foundations of this domain were laid by Pitirim Sorokin in 1920s. Today various applied studies emerge, but they lack a theoretical analysis of food as a social phenomenon. In this paper the author develops a systemic approach to the social study of nutrition. The everyday social practices of food consumption are studied together with the production, distribution and exchange of foodstuffs. The comparative approach is applied to the analysis of the traditional and modern systems of food and taste. The author starts with the broad understanding of the sociology of food, its subject matter and main characteristics. Then the process of nutrition is studied in the framework of the social system theory. The author highlights the shift of the food consumption from the private to the public space. The system of nutrition is differentiated according to the economic and cultural capital available to the different social classes. The author argues that contemporary system of taste corresponding to social practices of nutrition is based on the general processes of rationalization formed in the Age of Enlightenment. The people more and more distribute different tastes into specific classes and subclasses and prefer not to mix them (e.g., sweet and spicy). In conclusion, the author outlines the general characteristics of the modern social system of food and its main differences from the traditional system of food.

Keywords: sociology of food, social system of nutrition, food and drinks, taste, consumption