Can consumers buy alternative foods at a big box supermarket?

Supermarket

Photo credit: plasticchef1 on Flickr Creative Commons

A commentary I published in the Journal of Marketing Management, “Can consumers buy alternative foods at a big box supermarket?”, is now available online (and free for the month of May). It’s part of a special issue that considers the question of “alternatives” in food and drink markets (Eds. J Smith Maguire, J Lang and D Watson). I use a case study of ethical meat to consider the diverse, often contradictory ideals that inform consumers’ search for alternatives to mainstream market options.

I propose three main takeaways. 1) The goal of producing  consumer alternatives is significantly hampered by the competing, and often contradictory demands of market forces. 2) The discourse of food alternatives uses a ‘win-win’ logic suggesting that consumers don’t have to sacrifice anything or change their habits. I believe that consumer projects for ecological and social change face a necessary but exceptionally challenging task of reshaping, and even downgrading consumer expectations. 3) Although I’m deeply sympathetic to the desire to “feel good” about shopping, the search for eco-social alternatives cannot simply make consumers feel good about their purchases. Food ‘alternatives’ have to go beyond feel good feelings, and address the material realities and limitations of niche markets.

Food and femininity in the Sociological Review

Food and Femininity Cover

Dr. Rebecca Sandover, an Associate Research Fellow in Geography at the University of Exeter, recently took the time to write a very thoughtful review of Food and Femininity. You can read the full piece in the Sociological Review, and here is an excerpt:

Through an immersion in the processes of decision making for household food choices, Food and Femininity offers a rich account of the thorny tensions faced by shoppers attempting to work out food ethics in their everyday eating lives. However, as Cairns and Johnston spotlight, these tensions are even more acute for women attempting to walk the tightrope of enacting feminist, post-feminist and healthy eating bodies within the framework of gendered food practices. . . . this book not only examines food and femininity, it also sets out feminist methodologies for researching food issues.

Call for papers on food and feminism

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Photo: Cross-stitch ninja. https://flic.kr/p/RuY2v

On the heels of International Women’s Day, I wanted to share a call for papers from Dr. Rachel O’Neill at the University of York, UK. She is organizing what looks like an exciting conference on June 30th, 2017: Food is a Feminist Issue: Media, Bodies Appetites. Attendance is free, but advance registration is required.

The call for papers (deadline 14 April, 2017)  references feminist writers such as Susie Orbach, who will give a keynote address, along with Tisha Dejmanee, Rosalind Gill, and Angela McRobbie. Kate Cairns and I are honoured that our book Food and Femininity is referenced in the call for papers.

New book: Introducing sociology using the stuff of everyday life

introducing-sociology-using-the-stuff-of-everyday-lifeA new introductory sociology textbook I co-authored with Kate Cairns and Shyon Baumann is out now! You can peruse the introductory pages by clicking “Look Inside” at this link. Here is what one reviewer had to say about Introducing sociology using the stuff of everyday life:

“From designer jeans to iPhones, cultural understandings and material arrangements come together to shape what we buy and why. With a remarkable gift for storytelling, the authors shows us how the things we use reflect the conflict between our private lives and the public issues structuring them. After reading this book, it will be impossible to see a marketing campaign or a PR event in quite the same way. I can’t wait to teach Using the Stuff of Everyday Life in my classroom!”

Frederick F. Wherry, Yale University

HuffPo article on pressure of cooking holiday family meals

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By Satya Murthy on Flickr Creative Commons: https://bitly.com/

The Huffington Post just published a short, seasonal piece I co-authored with PhD Candidate Merin Oleschuk and Professor Kate Cairns. In our article, we reflect on ways to alleviate some of the pressures behind the idealized family meal, particularly as they pertain to economic and gender inequality. Continue reading

Journal article by Merin Oleschuk on foodies of colour

merin01Merin Oleschuk, one of the PhD candidates I’m supervising, just published a brilliant article in Cultural Sociology called “Foodies of color: Authenticity and exoticism in omnivorous food culture.” Her article focuses on the framing of particular foods as ‘authentic’ and/or ‘exotic,’ and how foodies of colour in Toronto reproduce, adjust to, and resist ethnoracial inequalities in gourmet food culture. Check out this write-up on the story behind Merin’s research.