Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
SP03: The Sociology of Sustainable Food Consumption
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
9:00am - 10:30am

Session Chair: Peter Oosterveer, Wageningen University
Session Chair: Stefan Wahlen, Wageningen University and Research
Location: PB.2.5
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: B, Level: 2.
Semi-Plenary 03 with Julie Guthman and Lotte Holm.

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Forked: On the Limits of Shopping for Sustainability and Towards a Food Activism That Matters

Julie Guthman

University of California, United States of America

The theory of change driving sustainable food consumption is that consumers should pay more for food that is produced more ethically and ecologically. The market will then respond to changes in consumer demand and eventually food production will transform to be more sustainable and just. Drawing on her research on California’s organic and strawberry industries, Professor Guthman will problematize this theory of change, spelling out some of the limits of approaches that depend on consumer purchasing. She will give particular attention to the paradoxes of voluntary food labels in times of economic recession. Her talk will culminate with a discussion of what food politics could and should look like in the age of Donald Trump.


Julie Guthman is a geographer and professor of social sciences at the University of California at Santa Cruz where she teaches courses primarily in global political economy and the politics of food and agriculture. She has published extensively on contemporary efforts to transform food production, distribution, and consumption, with a particular focus on the race, class and body politics of “alternative food.” Her publications include two multi-award winning books: Agrarian Dreams: the Paradox of Organic Farming in California, Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice and the Limits of Capitalism, and a recently released edited volume entitled The New Food Activism: Opposition, Cooperation, and Collective Action. She is the recipient of the 2015 Excellence in Research Award from the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society, and has received fellowships from both the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and from the Radcliffe Institute for Advance Study for 2017-2018. Her latest research has examined the effects of the methyl bromide phase-out on California’s strawberry industry.

Coping with Economic Restraint: Everyday Food Consumption Practices And Environmental Sustainability

Lotte Holm

University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Most research on household’s reactions to food budget restraint address low-income groups in countries characterised by large socio-economic differences. In the Western world, such studies have mostly been conducted in Anglo-Saxon countries, while in Scandinavian societies, such as Denmark, it has been maintained that the Social-Democratic welfare regime ensures that no-one needs to be deprived of basic necessities such as food. However, following the global capitalist crisis in 2008, broader parts of the population experience economic unrest and various degrees of pressure on food budgets have become more common in Danish households.

In Denmark, sustainable food consumption is high on the political agendas and organic food purchase is the highest in the world. But what happens when people react to economic turbulence and attempt to reduce food expenditure? I will discuss results from a Danish project which analyses how households cope with economic restraint. The project Food in Turbulent Times combines in-depth qualitative inquiry with analyses of panel data and a representative survey of Danish households. The focus will be on how pressure on food budgets is experienced and handed in different social contexts, and how differentiated household food consumption relates to sustainability and climate change. The significance of attitudes towards climate friendly food consumption relative to routinized food consumption practices will be highlighted, as will relations between climate friendly and healthy food consumption practices.


Lotte Holm, PhD and MSc in Sociology, Professor at the Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen.

My research centers around food and eating ranging from comparative population studies of changing eating patterns in modern life to in-depth qualitative investigations of e.g. the multiple meanings of food, food and gender identity, lay perceptions of food and health and risk, obesity and bodyweight management. I was a partner in the Trust in Food project which investigated institutional change in the food safety regulatory systems in EU and six European countries following the BSE crisis.

My recent projects include Governing Obesity, addressing specific experiences of individuals subjected to different kinds of obesity interventions, Food in Nordic everyday Life, analysing changes in everyday eating rhythms and patterns in four Nordic countries, and Food in Turbulent Times, focusing on food budget restraint in Denmark.

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