Platter of cheese and crackers

For the Food Values Research Group’s second seminar of 2018, we are pleased to welcome our own Emily Buddle!

Australian Meat Consumers’ Understandings of Farm Animal Welfare

Ms Emily Buddle, PhD Candidate, Food Values Research Group, School of Humanities, University of Adelaide

Emily Buddle

In developed Western societies, raising animals for meat has come under significant public scrutiny in recent decades. Much of the scrutiny is centred on different understandings amongst the meat value chain towards the concept of “animal welfare”. Consumers have essentially relinquished their involvement, and thus their control over how an animal is produced, relying on other members of the value chain to grow their meat. By relinquishing control, consumers have developed different understandings of farm animal welfare to those involved in producing livestock, attributing to the scrutiny faced by the livestock industry. There is a sense of urgency within the meat value chain to come to a consistent and equitable definition of animal welfare in order for them to maintain their “social license to operate”. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the understandings of various stakeholders within the meat value chain towards animal welfare are very different. These understandings are shaped through a variety of social and cultural phenomena, such as their interactions with people within their lives as well as media, activism and advocacy. My research uses focus groups and interviews to explore the complexity of consumer understandings about farm animal welfare, emphasising that such understandings are not solely centred on concerns about the animal itself, but extend into a range of other social and cultural values. It uncovers how the Australian print press has framed the issue of farm animal welfare and presents the opinion of meat consumers towards the work of animal welfare activists, particularly on social media. My dissertation summarises that consumer understandings of animal welfare are expressions of their values and for the livestock industry to continue producing meat, they must work towards the communication of shared values.

Emily Buddle is a PhD candidate within the School of Humanities at the University of Adelaide. She has research interests in community understandings of agriculture and food. Her previous research has explored the use of social media by animal welfare activists in campaigning against livestock agriculture, while her current work explores how farm animal welfare is communicated to and understood across members of the community.

When: Friday, 16th of March, 12-1 PM

Where: Ira Raymond Room, Barr Smith Library, North Terrace Campus, University of Adelaide (click here for campus map)

Posted in Event, Research | Tagged , , , ,
Leave a comment

The Food Values Research Group is excited to host UK authors and cheese scholars Bronwen and Francis Percival for a special seminar on Monday, 19 March 2018. All welcome!

Reinventing the Wheel: Starter Cultures and the Making of Modern Cheese

Bronwen Percival, Cheese Buyer for Neal’s Yard Dairy, London, and Francis Percival, writer for The World of Fine Wine

Bronwen and Francis PercivalStarter cultures—purified strains of lactic acid bacteria—are the single essential tool of modern cheesemaking, used to ferment milk by every type of cheese producer, from giant factories to the most boutique farmhouse. But despite their ubiquity, starter cultures have existed for less than 140 years: a minute portion of the history of cheesemaking. And when they were introduced, they were reviled by most as a needless complication, creating controversy in the cheese world. Bronwen and Francis Percival will discuss how cultures changed the cheese and how those cheeses changed the culture, and they’ll examine how the secret history of starter cultures challenges claims of traditional practice and authenticity in the cheese world today.


Bronwen Percival is the cheese buyer for Neal’s Yard Dairy in London. In addition to working with cheesemakers and the company’s maturation team to select and optimise the quality of the cheese they sell, she works to mobilise collaboration between cheesemakers and the scientific community. In 2012, she instigated a biennial conference on the Science of Artisan Cheese. In early 2014, she spent two months in the Dutton Lab at Harvard University studying the role of marine-associated Proteobacteria on cheese rinds. Along with Dr. Benjamin Wolfe, she co-founded the website, a scientific resource for producers, purveyors, and enthusiasts of artisan microbial foods, and more recently she served on the editorial board of the Oxford Companion to Cheese.

Francis Percival writes on food and wine for The World of Fine WineHis work won Louis Roederer Best International Wine Columnist in 2013 and Pio Cesare Food & Wine Writer of the Year in 2015. Francis is also a judge in The World of Fine Wine World’s Best Wine List Awards. Apart from The World of Fine Wine, his work has appeared in Decanter and the Financial Times in the UK and Culture, Saveur, and Gourmet in the US. Besides writing, Francis also teaches classes for Neal’s Yard Dairy.

Bronwen and Francis are co-authors of Reinventing the Wheel: Milk, Microbes, and the Fight for Real Cheese

When: Monday, 19 March, 12-1 PM

Where: Marjoribanks 126 (Santos Lecture Theatre), North Terrace Campus, University of Adelaide (click here for campus map)

Posted in Event | Tagged , , , ,
Leave a comment

For the Food Values Research Group’s first seminar of 2018, we present a joint talk featuring the work of two advanced postgraduate students in Cultural Studies at the University of South Australia.

Vegan Food and Eating Vegan in Adelaide

Ms Julie Cartlidge and Ms Ellen Scott, PhD Candidates, School of Creative Industries, University of South Australia

Ellen Scott and Julie CartlidgeWhile veganism extends beyond diet alone, food is the primary way the philosophy of veganism is enacted. The choice to be vegan is reinforced multiple times a day as each meal or snack is consumed. As such, it is a significant aspect of the vegan experience worthy of closer inspection. Often treated as mundane and unremarkable, food is in fact highly complex with a rich symbolic life, a powerful signifier embedded with a litany of social and cultural meanings (Fischler, 1988:285; Lupton, 1996:9). This project aims to map the symbolic system that underpins a vegan diet through a qualitative multimethod approach, combining digital ethnography with semi-structured interviews. The social media activity of forty-four vegan participants has been monitored over a six-week period and all posts related to food collected for analysis. The posts range in medium from text based to videos, photographs, links to websites and online articles, location check-ins, interest in or attendance at events, gifs and memes. Some preliminary findings from the digital data set will be offered. Key themes arising from the data include issues connected to health, hedonism, ethics, environment, family, community, inclusion and exclusion, and identity. While most food related posts by participants concern vegan food a significant portion, around one third, are about non-vegan food. This finding is significant and will be unpacked in the context of living in a non-vegan world where food remains a key avenue for participation in society, familial relations, and identity construction (Fischler, 1988:275; Germov, 1997:35; Spencer, 2014:250).

I want to unpack the largely unspoken rituals and routines of everyday vegan life that work to infuse food with meaning and get down into the ideas, values and culturally transmitted beliefs that influence eating patterns, not just of vegans but of society more broadly and explore how mainstream Australian food culture shapes or interacts with vegan practice.

How do vegans symbolically construct their diet in practice and representation? To answer this my core research aims are to analyse:

  1. Vegan representations of food on social media,
  2. The lived realities of everyday vegan food practice through a food diary and,
  3. Vegan participants’ own perspectives and insights into veganism through semi-structured interviews.

The digital ethnography of social media use is the first stage of my research and will inform the rest of the research process as guiding themes and interview questions will be based on this content, material from the digital ethnography will also be used as an interview tool to prompt discussion. It’s a key stage of my research that is reflective of the importance of the online realm within the vegan community, which is highly diffuse with low levels of official affiliation. The internet is a primary site of vegan cultural transmission, interaction, organising and solidarity. Vegan presence online is also used to normalise veganism and vegan food and challenge the cultural dominance of meat. Digital vegan spaces are particularly valuable for vegans in a country like Australia which remains the largest consumer of meat per capita in the world and where meat retains strong symbolic power and associations of strength, masculinity, civilisation, and a quintessential ‘Australianness’ (Cairns et al, 2010:593; Flail, 2006:99; Lupton, 1996:28). Interviews, yet to be conducted, will be informed by key themes that arise from this digital data and participant input on digital data will be elicited in order to contextualise posts and allow a more in-depth understanding of the symbolic meanings participants create through their daily food practice

Julie Cartlidge is a PhD Candidate in the School of Creative Industries at the University of South Australia. Her working PhD title is ‘”You’re not a vegan are you?” constructing a narrative of living vegan in a non-vegan society’.

Ellen Scott is a PhD Candidate in the School of Creative Industries at the University of South Australia. Her working PhD title is ‘The symbolic construction of diet by Adelaide vegans’. She can be found on twitter:

When: Wednesday, 7th of February, 12-1 PM

Where: Ira Raymond Room, Barr Smith Library, North Terrace Campus, University of Adelaide (click here for campus map)

Posted in Event | Tagged , , ,
Leave a comment

The Food Values Research Group are currently seeking participants in a new project which aims to understand why people keep chickens, and document related attitudes to, and associated values with having chickens as part of their lives in urban and peri-urban home settings. The welfare of chickens in commercial egg and meat production has been an increasing concern […]

Posted in Research | Tagged , ,
Leave a comment

In the latest episode of ABC Radio National program “Science Friction”, Dr Heather Bray weighs in on the topic of gene editing using new CRISPR-CAS9 technology for livestock animal welfare. The episode “Making animals happier? Gene editing in the farm yard”, looks at the history of genetic modification and gene editing science and technology, and asks […]

Posted in Media | Tagged , , , , ,
Leave a comment

For our final seminar of 2017, the Food Values Research Group is pleased to present: Understanding the role of self-deception enhancement bias in South Australian consumers’ stated purchase of organic foods Associate Professor Sarah Wheeler, Centre for Global Food and Resources, University of Adelaide Consumers around the world are increasingly worried about food safety and quality, […]

Posted in Event | Tagged , , , ,
Leave a comment

For our November seminar, the Food Values Research Group is pleased to present: A Comparative Case Study of Ecovillages from the Permaculture Perspective Dr Jungho Suh, Lecturer in Geography, Environment and Population, University of Adelaide Permaculture takes a systems approach to sustainable human settlements above and beyond organic food production. Likewise, the ecovillage movement places […]

Posted in Event | Tagged , , , ,
Leave a comment

For our October seminar, the Food Values Research Group is pleased to present: Mens’ Cookbooks in the 20th Century Dr Gerry Groot, Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies, Department of Asian Studies, University of Adelaide This presentation discusses the ways that men’s cookbooks in English have been treated in the academic literature to-date, and by noting […]

Posted in Event | Tagged , ,
Leave a comment

For the Food Values Research Group’s September seminar, we present a double header featuring the work of two of our advanced postgraduate students. Each talk takes a very different approach to studying values around meat consumption. Where are the women? Intersectionality as a tool to make peace with my inner feminist when talking about meat, […]

Posted in Event | Tagged , , , , ,
Leave a comment

Prof. Rachel Ankeny recently joined the Knowing Animals podcast to discuss buying free range eggs. The episode focused on her journal article co-authored with Heather Bray. The article is titled ‘Happy Chickens Lay Tastier Eggs: Motivations for Buying Free-range Eggs in Australia’. It was published in the journal Anthrozoos in May 2017. This episode of Knowing Animals is […]

Posted in Media | Tagged , , , ,
Leave a comment