Cooking up consumer anxieties about ‘provenance’ and ‘ethics’. Why it sometimes matters where foods come from in domestic provisioning

Open access version here

This paper draws upon qualitative and ethnographic data to explore why and how it sometimes matters where food comes from. What emerges is an expanded and problematized practical understanding of provenance, where concerns for the point of origin is generally inseparable from, and subsumed within, a broader range of ethical concerns about where food comes from. I co-authored it with Angela Meah and it was published in the journal Food, Culture and Society in 2013.

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Meah A and M Watson (2013) ‘Cooking up consumer anxieties about ‘provenance’ and ‘ethics’. Why it sometimes matters where foods come from in domestic provisioning’ Food, Culture and Society, 16 (3): 495-512

Provenance is fundamentally about foods’ point of origin. It is thus, unsurprising that studies of food provenance typically focus on circumstances of production and the routes foods follow to get to situations of exchange and, to a lesser extent, final consumption. However, this dominant framing leads to an asymmetry of attention between production and consumption. By neglecting the situatedness of food purchase and use, much of what makes provenance meaningful and productive for consumers is missed. This paper draws upon qualitative and ethnographic data to explore why and how it sometimes matters where food comes from. What emerges is an expanded and problematized practical understanding of provenance, where concerns for the point of origin is generally inseparable from, and subsumed within, a broader range of ethical concerns about where food comes from.

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Author: Matt Watson

A Human Geographer at the University of Sheffield, interested in how everyday human action and social orders make each other, with implications for sustainability and wellbeing. Currently looking at energy including how to tackle demand for it.

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