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Accepted Paper:

In pursuit of the "real" taste: Consumer preferences and homemade practices in post-socialist Bulgaria  
Maria Yotova (Ritsumeikan University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper demonstrates how consumer preferences and valuation of homemade products such as jars of pickles, jams and yogurt are inseparable from distrust in the post-socialist state and food manufacturers, and discourses of European integrity, market morality and economic development.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I am trying to elucidate how the implementation of EU food safety regulations have influenced state policies and consumers' perceptions of homemade food, and how these are reflected in practices and discourses surrounding homemade food.

As homemade jars of yogurt, jams and pickled vegetables are becoming increasingly harder to find, "homemade" has enhanced its value. However, local tastes and food traditions are threatened by controversial state policies, supra-national regulatory regimes and social transformations that lead to detachment from self-provisioning activities. The growing polarization between villagers and urban-based policy makers provokes distrust and indignation in many people, evident in their scornful comments about "the happy hens and cows of Europe". Now dairy products must be produced with milk from certified farms, while shortages are to be compensated by imported skim milk powder.

Through an empirical focus on yogurt, I ask how is inequality experienced in post-socialist Bulgaria; what defines the "goodness" of homemade food, and what does it suggest about people's attitudes towards the national state, the EU and the market? I argue that the significance of homemade food in present-day Bulgaria is closely related to increasing awareness of social and geopolitical inequalities, distrust in state and supranational authorities, and discourses of food quality, safety, and economic development.

Panel P165
Re-inventing European food: pasts and futures of agricultural imaginaries
  Session 1 Thursday 16 August, 2018, -