Accepted Paper:

Sustainable Food Technologies: Méconnaissance in Production-Consumption of Natural Food  


Laura Trachte (Technische Universität München)
Barbara Sutter (TU München)

Paper short abstract:

The contribution suggests bridging the production-consumption divide in the case of organic food products by arguing that both realms are prone to processes of méconnaissance (Bourdieu) when it comes to their naturalness as an argument for their sustainable character.

Paper long abstract:

Organic food seems a good choice when it comes to sustainable production and consumption. It promises positive effects towards the Social, the Economic and the Ecological - the latter in particular by its preference for natural processes. Although it seems pretty obvious that these processes are often highly technologized, the popularity of organic products as the more sustainable option stands and falls with their natural image.

Yet, nutritional products are the result of a variety of techniques, like breeding, growing, processing and logistics. But neither can we see these technological aspects, nor can we be sure how much and what kind of technology our foodstuffs exist of. Whether a tomato is conventionally or organically produced, we cannot know by its looks or taste (Heuts/Mol 2013).

Bearing this in mind, the presentation will focus on how organic food products are made plausible as being more 'natural' than conventional products - in a material and semiotic sense. The assumption is that organic food becomes plausible as being 'natural' because technology is not recognized as such. Even more: Our paper will argue that there is a trend towards méconnaissance (Bourdieu 1976) of the technological aspects of food which holds true for both, their production and consumption.

With reference to empirical data gained from production and consumption processes (plant breeding and vegetable marketing in various forms) we will show that these are interconnected by the same mechanisms when it comes to their naturality as an argument for their sustainability.

Panel T092
Transition to Sustainable Food Systems: Integrative Perspectives on Production and Consumption