The increasing prominence of food politics and visibility of formerly ‘marginal’ food practices provided a focal point for the diversity of issues, from ethical consumption and alternative food networks to food culture in the digital age, addressed by speakers at the ‘Food Politics: From the Margins to the Mainstream’ conference in Hobart on 30 June – 1 July 2016.
The Food Values Research Group was well-represented, with two papers delivered at the conference. As part of the session ‘Rethinking Food Scares’, group members Dr Jessica Loyer and Emily Buddle presented ‘A “Natural” Symbol: Nature, Morality, and Politics in Online Raw Milk Advocacy Communities’. They shared some results of their research as part of a team working with Dr Heather Bray and Professor Rachel Ankeny. A look at the associations consumers make between ‘natural’ food and morality combined with research into social media communities’ discourses around raw milk in Australia and Canada, where the milk may not be sold legally, the researchers’ findings confirmed that a range of factors contribute to the perception of raw milk by advocates as more ‘natural’ and that these beliefs work in tandem with a strong current of political support for ‘food freedom’ or opposition to the dominance of large-scale, corporate and industrial food production.
Yvette Wijnandts presented ‘Rethinking Difference via the Non-Human Animal: Consuming the Kangaroo’ as part of a session on ‘Meat Politics’. Starting from a position that the practice of eating (and talking about eating) animals is embedded within different cultural contexts and values, such as religion, and employing a post-humanist framework, her paper provided a critical discourse analysis of current debates on commercial kangaroo hunting in Australia. Ultimately, whatever our opinions on the matter, class, culture, race and species are inter-related in the discussions we have about the well-being of the animals we eat.