Tag Archives: Shopping for change

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.

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Article published on food activists in Journal of Consumer Culture

An article I co-authored with Professors Emily Huddart Kennedy and John Parkins is now available online at the Journal of Consumer Culture. “Food activists, consumer strategies, and the democratic imagination: Insights from eat-local movements” explores some of the tensions around social movements based on ‘shopping for change.’ Here is the abstract: Continue reading