Papers will explore relations between humans and animals-as-food: ethical consumption & food movements; changing cultural values of meat; meat trade; practices of meat production, preparation and retail; food safety regimes & certification, risk & trust; & links between agriculture, food & health.
This panel will explore the idea that connections between humans and animals-as-food are not simply one-way relationships between consumer and consumed, but involve a more complex set of relations concerned, among other things, with ecological change, world markets and local economic conditions, health and safety concerns, and changing cultural values. While increased meat consumption - as well as shifts in the types of meat eaten and the styles and contexts in which it is consumed - might index associated changes in the symbolic meanings of meat, providing for this demand has also had other consequences. In placing increasing strain on fragile ecological systems, intensive meat production has also been associated with, for example, the outbreak of new animal-borne diseases (from 'mad cow' disease to bird flu and SARS) and other emergent health concerns (from rises in obesity and heart disease to food poisoning). In short, the animals we eat do not passively satisfy our changing tastes but, in doing so, become actively embroiled in social relations. Papers will engage with the two-way relationships that exist between humans and the animals we rear and consume, analysing them in relation to the wider political economy of meat production and consumption. In particular, papers might explore issues including ethical consumption and food movements; changing cultural values of meat or particular types of meat; meat trade including food 'smuggling', 'alternative' and 'conventional' practices of meat production, preparation and retail; food safety regimes and certification, risk and trust; and the links between agriculture, food and health.