Voting rights: how the fetishization of organic compromises food justice Public Deposited

The organic industry has grown exponentially since the distinction was established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1990. While organic has become a household name and driven food sales for both corporations and small farmers, its popularity inspires consumers to buy organic food without questioning whence it came, or how or by whom it was grown. This establishes a fetish, which is prevalent in contemporary popular discourse and which is played out via a belief that one can improve the food system with one’s shopping habits, known as voting with your fork. Using critical discourse analysis, I found that contemporary popular discourse reinforces a number of illusions about organic agriculture and about race, class, and gender issues in the food system. Specifically it (a) creates confusion, shame, and/or fear around conventionally grown food; (b) equates organic food with dignity, health, and/or happiness; (c) emphasizes the ease with which one can access or process organic food; (d) makes a social movement out of a personal choice; (e) applauds the consumer’s ethical fortitude and/or good taste; and (f) subordinates or ignores the rights or existence of farm workers. My thesis explores the idea of contemporary popular discourse revealing a fetishization of organic food, which compromises food justice, particularly for the food-insecure and farm workers. I approach the problem as a pragmatist, using a food-justice framework explore the unintended consequences of fetishizing organic and then suggest meaningful ways of effecting change via policy and activism, rather than commerce.

  • Athens.Kristy.2015.pdf
Publication Date
  • 2015
Document type