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Gastronationalism: Food Traditions and Authenticity Politics in the European Union


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By developing the concept of ‘‘gastronationalism,’’ this article challenges conceptions of the homogenizing forces of globalism. I analyze (1) the ways in which food production, distribution, and consumption can demarcate and sustain the emotive power of national attachment and (2) how nationalist sentiments, in turn, can shape the production and marketing of food. The multi-methodological analyses reveal how the construct of gastronationalism can help us better understand pan-national tensions in symbolic boundary politics—politics that protect certain foods and industries as representative of national cultural traditions. I first analyze the macro-level dimensions of market protections by examining the European Union’s program for origin-designation labels that delineates particular foods as nationally owned. The micro-level, empirical case—the politics surrounding foie gras in France—demonstrates how gastronationalism functions as a protectionist mechanism within lived experience. Foie gras is an especially relevant case because other parties within the pan-national system consider it morally objectionable. Contemporary food politics, beyond the insights it affords into symbolic boundary politics, speaks to several arenas of sociological interest, including markets, identity politics, authenticity and culture, and the complexities of globalization.
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American Sociological Review
DOI: 10.1177/0003122410372226
2010; 75; 432 American Sociological Review
Michaela DeSoucey
Gastronationalism: Food Traditions and Authenticity Politics in the European
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Gastronationalism: Food
Traditions and Authenticity
Politics in the European
Michaela DeSouceya
By developing the concept of ‘‘gastronationalism,’’ this article challenges conceptions of the
homogenizing forces of globalism. I analyze (1) the ways in which food production, distribu-
tion, and consumption can demarcate and sustain the emotive power of national attachment
and (2) how nationalist sentiments, in turn, can shape the production and marketing of food.
The multi-methodological analyses reveal how the construct of gastronationalism can help us
better understand pan-national tensions in symbolic boundary politics—politics that protect
certain foods and industries as representative of national cultural traditions. I first analyze
the macro-level dimensions of market protections by examining the European Union’s pro-
gram for origin-designation labels that delineates particular foods as nationally owned. The
micro-level, empirical case—the politics surrounding foie gras in France—demonstrates
how gastronationalism functions as a protectionist mechanism within lived experience.
Foie gras is an especially relevant case because other parties within the pan-national system
consider it morally objectionable. Contemporary food politics, beyond the insights it affords
into symbolic boundary politics, speaks to several arenas of sociological interest, including
markets, identity politics, authenticity and culture, and the complexities of globalization.
food politics, culture, markets, nationalism, European Union
Efforts within the European Union (EU) to
create a unifying, pan-European sense of iden-
tity have generated tensions within and among
nations over the principles of universalism and
exceptionalism. Scholars of European integra-
tion politics often cite religion, language, eth-
nic composition, or region to illustrate how
nations seek to preserve (or overcome) their
sense of distinctiveness (Bail 2008; Brubaker
1996; Calhoun 2007; Keating 2004) and to
construct symbolic unity through everyday
talk and social practice (Billig 1995). Such
practices, which communicate the value of
national distinctiveness, have recently been
theorized through the frames of branding
(Aronczyk 2007) and impression management
(Rivera 2008). Few analyses, however, scruti-
nize related institutional strategies and how
material objects and industries are legitimated
and protected as uniquely representative of
national traditions. Relevant processes are
aNorthwestern University
Corresponding Author:
Michaela DeSoucey, Northwestern University,
Department of Sociology, 1810 Chicago Avenue,
Evanston, IL 60208
American Sociological Review
75(3) 432–455
ÓAmerican Sociological
Association 2010
DOI: 10.1177/0003122410372226
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situated within a constellation of legislative,
cultural, and industry-based dynamics—
dynamics that influence the evolution of
inter-institutional relationships (Evans and
Kay 2008).
Scholarship in organizational sociology
increasingly recognizes that markets and poli-
tics depend on embedded codes and cultural
understandings (Rao, Monin, and Durand
2003, 2005; Vasi 2007; Weber, Heinze, and
DeSoucey 2008). We know surprisingly little,
however, about relationships among regulated
markets, political institutions, and national
cultural identities. Examining nationalized
protections for certain objects, namely foods,
contributes to ongoing debates about the per-
meability of national boundaries within the
EU’s pan-national structures (Checkel and
Katzenstein 2009; Fligstein 2008; Held et al.
1999) and about the ways in which globaliza-
tion spurs resistance to culturally homogeniz-
ing trends (Appadurai 2001; Ritzer 2003;
Thompson and Arsel 2004; Watson 1997).
My aim here is not to generate a theory of
European integration based on food politics,
but to delineate how foods constitute cultural
and material resources that affect and respond
to political agendas. Indeed, within the con-
temporary EU, food is a contested medium
of cultural politics that demarcates national
boundaries and identities. Historians and
anthropologists have embraced the theme of
food, culture, and society in their scholarship
(Douglas 1984; Goody 1982; Mintz 1985;
Scholliers 2001; Watson and Caldwell 2005),
and food studies are increasingly recognized
for their ability to integrate multiple research
areas and methods (Belasco and Scranton
2002; Freedman 2007). The sociological
relationship between food and globalization
is an especially rich juxtaposition because it
highlights the dialectic produced by global-
ism’s homogenizing tendencies and the
appearance of new forms of identity politics
invigorated by an increasingly homogenous
environment (Berger and Huntington 2002;
Inglis 2005). I conceptualize this juxtaposi-
tion as gastronationalism.1
Examining the political construction of foods
as institutionalized vehicles of national cultural
identities sheds rich theoretical light on debates
between European integrationists and protec-
tionists (Brubaker 1996; Fligstein 2008; Opp
2005; Priba
´n 2007). Gastronationalism, in par-
ticular, signals the use of food production, distri-
bution, and consumption to demarcate and
sustain the emotive power of national attach-
ment, as well as the use of nationalist sentiments
to produce and market food. First, I examine
how responses to globalizing markets have
assumed a distinct organizational form—a
form that prizes conceptions of tradition and
authenticity as desirable rationales for protecting
certain foods at the national level (Hobsbawm
and Ranger 1983; Scares 1997; Shils 1981).
The EU’s national-origin labeling program cou-
ples foods’ market status with valorized cultural
prowess tied to national identity, characterizing
and revaluing national food as a central part of
the national diet. This language of authenticity
assists the development of narratives about
geography-based particularities of cultivating
plants and animals for eating (Bell and
Valentine 1997).
Then, building on Burawoy’s (1991, 1998)
extended case method and drawing on the case
of foie gras in France, I examine these macro-
level processes as they are harnessed, mani-
pulated, and re-created at micro-interactional
levels. Gastronationalism, as a form of claims-
making and a project of collective identity, is
responsive to and reflective of the political ram-
ifications of connecting nationalist projects with
food culture at local levels. It presumes that at-
tacks (symbolic or otherwise) against a nation’s
food practices are assaults on heritage and cul-
ture, not just on the food item itself.
How does an object vilified in some lo-
cales become morally and politically justi-
fied as traditional, authentic, and worthy of
protected status in others? Foie gras, the fat-
tened liver of a force-fed duck or goose, is
valorized as a symbol of French national
identity, history, and culinary culture. It is
also a target of critical opposition, fueled
by international animal rights organizations.
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This dualism exposes salient questions
regarding social spaces for objects or prac-
tices seen as morally problematic within
new, potentially adversarial, pan-national
National cultural boundaries are problematic
objects of study because their emphasis on
universal features obscures contradictory sub-
cultures, cultural diffusion, and the ways in
which cultural policies are open to multiple
interpretations (Dobbin, Simmons, and
Garrett 2007). Any single definition of
‘‘nation’’ will legitimate some claims and de-
legitimate others (Opp 2005). Yet, improved
understanding of the flexibility of national
identity is essential for assessing its role within
integration politics in Europe and beyond
(Fligstein 2008; Keating 2004).
I use Brubaker’s (1996:10) broad defini-
tion of nationalism—a set of idioms, practi-
ces, and possibilities available in cultural
and political life, delimited by social or phys-
ical boundaries—to consider the ways in
which a nation’s people are defined, or self-
define, as a distinct group. Such practices
help people learn who they are through inter-
actions and social life (Brubaker and Cooper
2000). Anderson’s (1991) description of
a nation as an ‘‘imagined community’’ like-
wise proposes that we regard national identity
as a phenomenon of collective belonging.
Claims to nationhood are not just internal
appeals to common descent; they allege
uniqueness vis-a
`-vis other nations, substantiat-
ing potential claims for future distinctions
(Zerubavel 1995).
Nationalist symbols and practices, such as
flags and anthems, can be emotionally
charged signs of independence that demon-
strate a country’s social circumstances at the
time of their adoption (Cerulo 1995). These
objects unite citizens around shared practices
such as saluting or singing (Firth 1973;
Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983). When it comes
to symbolic power and implications for iden-
tity politics, food is no exception. Foods offer
links between social actors and their cultural
pasts (Gabaccia 1998), shared bonds of famil-
ial or religious identity (DeVault 1991; Ray
2004), and narratives of organizational iden-
tity (Fine 1996; Maurer 2002). For example,
a social comparison such as ‘‘we eat pork,
they don’t’’ articulates tropes of similarity
and otherness through shared consumption
patterns and prohibitions. Food and eating
are expressions of culture and shapers of iden-
tity; they are potential sources of material and
political valuation.
Gastronationalism connects foods’ social
and cultural attributes to politics by making
the material, commercial, and institutional
processes that shape foods the very objects
of investigation. Such dynamics are seldom
topics of sociological inquiry in their own
right, but there are notable exceptions.
These include Mennell’s (1985) examination
of the powerful forces implicated in the
development of ideas around taste in certain
foods and cuisines as cross-class markers of
French and British nationhood; Warde’s
(1997, 2009) studies of consumption that his-
toricize relationships among foods’ exchange
and status, and the recent ‘‘invention’’ of
British cuisine as a symbolic tool of nation-
building; and Ferguson’s (1998, 2004) explo-
ration of how French cuisine’s historical
development was strategically linked to
brokers of cultural ideology. Ferguson, in
particular, contends that gastronomy provided
nineteenth-century France with a distinct
identity—a kind of ‘‘culinary nationalism.’
This prior work shows how foods function
symbolically as markers of identity and com-
munity for otherwise geographically, socially,
and politically divided populations. Moreover,
it reveals how food can be an important arena
where conflicts over globalization’s pan-
nationalist impacts are fought. In cases of
gastronationalism, the state intervenes in the
market, acting as an ideological agent and
a broker for food production and distribution
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as cultural goods. Gastronationalism thus con-
nects macro- and micro-level concerns around
globalism, from the state to food producers’
and consumers’ lived experiences.
Because gastronationalism is situated in the
context of integration politics, I draw on
institutional theories of state-market relation-
ships to help explain recent institutional des-
ignations of ‘‘tradition’’ and ‘‘patrimony.’
These theories illustrate how regulatory
structures operationalize national (and inter-
national) systems of political values
(Bartley 2007; Prasad 2006). Moreover, add-
ing food to these networks of institutional re-
lationships builds on insights from economic
sociologists’ growing interest in meaning-
making and cultural work within market-
state systems (Dobbin 2004; Fligstein 2008;
Fourcade-Gourinchas and Healy 2007;
Zelizer 2005). From the perspective of orga-
nizational theory, this integration has great
promise for incorporating agency and politics
into cultural and institutional analyses.
The Treaty of Maastricht officially cre-
ated the European Union (EU) on
November 1, 1993. Before then, this associa-
tion was known as the European Economic
Community or the Common Market. The
Common Market was created post–World
War II to stimulate economic integration,
create shared political values, and offer
a powerful voice in international relations
(Bretherton and Vogler 1999; Laible and
Barkey 2006). Today, the EU is composed
of 27 member states, and the basic principle
of free trade—that open and competitive
markets optimize resources—operates as the
dominant mechanism for resource allocation,
the circulation of goods and services, and
policy formation. Policymakers, however,
have long argued that certain cultural goods
(particularly audiovisual goods) should be
considered cultural exceptions and external
to free trade (Gordon and Meunier 2001;
Ridler 1986). This idea stems from the
1947 General Agreement on Tariffs and
Trade (GATT), which called for European
countries to ‘‘protect national cultural trea-
sures of artistic, historical, or archaeological
value’’ in the deregulation of markets
(GATT 1947). Supporters often frame these
arguments for recognizing ‘‘cultural excep-
tions’’ or ‘‘cultural patrimony’’ within inter-
national trade and policy agreements as
a country’s right, or even duty, to preserve
and promote its cultural heritage and prevent
‘‘irretrievable loss’’ (Bishop 1996:187).
‘‘Cultural exceptions’’ refer mainly to
claims for protection of specific types of cul-
tural goods (namely film, television, and
music) within EU member states, or similar
types of media products that celebrate national
culture (Ahearne 2003). These claims incor-
porate the principles that the production of cul-
tural goods is necessarily place-specific and
that global markets are affected by unequal
starting points, unbalanced resources, and
strategic competition from dominant market
players (e.g., Hollywood for films) (Barber
1996; Prowda 1997). ‘‘Cultural patrimony’
describes what is fundamental to a people’s
or a nation’s history; it weds materialist and
symbolic interests as intrinsic to reinforcing,
reflecting, and influencing a group’s values
and collective identity (Hoffman 2006).
Cultural patrimony is not owned by a people;
rather, it represents their self-defined collec-
tive national identity. In this sense, it is similar
to notions of folklore or heritage. For example,
while old paintings can be considered cultural
property, Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper
and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus are classified
as Italian cultural patrimony.
Supporters of both types of claims have
tied them to the perceived negative effects
of Americanization, globalization, and pan-
European homogenization (Meunier 2005).
These claims play an important role in cur-
rent ideological battles over the European
project (Mene
´ndez Alarco
´n 2004). Although
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national industries are typically not included
in these definitions, I contend that gastrona-
tionalism facilitates national claims of
cultural patrimony for foods because it per-
forms similar symbolic boundary work in
creating exceptions, under the veneer of cul-
ture, within otherwise open-market struc-
tures. In setting institutional precedents for
resource-based claims of cultural and
national specificity (Kockel 2007), cultural
exception designations for media help con-
textualize new national categories for pro-
tecting food in the face of expanding
globalist dynamics.
My multimethod approach explores gastrona-
tionalism’s macro and micro dimensions
within contemporary European food politics.
To theoretically develop and empirically cap-
ture gastronationalism as an institutional con-
struct, I created a database containing every
foodstuff (N 5790) that received protected
national status under the EU’s designation of
origin program between the program’s estab-
lishment in 1992 and December 31, 2007. I
then analyzed emergent patterns across the
21 countries claiming these labels, using
small-N research methods (Mahoney 2000).
I also collected and analyzed materials related
to several instances of contentious politics that
resulted from this labeling program; these ma-
terials include news articles, academic and
trade conference proceedings, industry and
producer Web sites, application and registra-
tion documents, EU case law,2and food his-
tory books.
To investigate gastronationalism’s micro-
level complexities and the implications of
these dynamics, I conducted an in-depth
case analysis of foie gras in France, a food
item with morally contested production
methods. During 2006 and 2007, I collected
primary data during four months of ethno-
graphic fieldwork at 10 foie gras farms and
7 production facilities (ranging in size from
a 2-person to a 250-person operation),
a Parisian gourmet food exposition, local
outdoor markets (including marche
gras), tourist offices, foie gras museums,
shops, restaurants, and a hotel management
school. I conducted 40 interviews with
French foie gras producers, high-level indus-
try representatives, social movement acti-
vists, consumers, chefs, tourism employees,
and local government officials. I conducted
the interviews primarily in French; a few, de-
pending on a respondent’s comfort level with
the English language, were in English. The
majority of interviews were one to two hours
in length. I had a portion of the interviews
transcribed and transcribed the remainder
myself. All French to English translations
are my own.
On my first research trip, I contacted pro-
ducers, chefs, and industry members through
a ‘‘foie gras amateur guide’’ (Serventi 2002)
and through academic connections in Paris,
Dijon, Lyon, and Toulouse. These initial
contacts allowed for snowball sampling,
which proved advantageous. Intermediaries
were often necessary for me, as an
American who was sometimes viewed with
skepticism, to gain access. During my second
research trip in 2007, I traveled and con-
ducted interviews alongside an American
journalist who was also writing about foie
gras controversies (Caro 2009). This journal-
ist had access to respondents I would not oth-
erwise have been able to interview. Beyond
these new interviews, I also conducted
follow-up interviews with several 2006 re-
spondents. Finally, I undertook content anal-
yses on materials produced inside and
outside France related to foie gras history
and politics: news articles from Le Monde,
the International Herald Tribune, and
Agence France-Presse; Web sites and list-
servs; opinion pieces; industry newsletters
and materials (including videos, in-house
materials, and trade publications from
´, France’s largest foie gras producer);
tourism materials collected from local
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offices; food history books accessed at the
`que Nationale and purchased in
French bookstores; EU documents regarding
foie gras production; and transcripts of
French National Assembly and Senate
The Cultural Exception for
Traditional Foods
From the EU’s inception, the development of
integrated agricultural policies and a common
market for food products—the Common
Agricultural Policy (CAP)—has been a core
activity. Indeed, some argue that the EU’s estab-
lishment was a purposeful step toward making
food and agricultural products more competi-
tive internationally (Sarasu
´a, Scholliers, and
Van Molle 2005). Agriculture absorbs 50
percent of the EU’s annual budget, and CAP
plays a central role in mediating trade, improv-
ing rural standards of living, and regulating
public funds for food transport and research
The legal underpinnings of EU gover-
nance of food production, distribution, and
marketing make claims for national specific-
ity both salient and problematic. According
to the regulatory principle of mutual recogni-
tion (Article 28 EC), a food product lawfully
marketable in any one EU member state must
be so in all (subject to limited exceptions,
namely health). Furthermore, to protect all
member states’ markets, the EU’s harmo-
nized food production standards reflect the
regulations of the member state with the least
stringent quality protections for the item in
question. These requirements apply to multi-
national corporations and small-scale pro-
ducers alike. Efforts to protect certain foods
within this market structure have led to
nationally-based contention.3
Such regulations, along with ever-increas-
ing market integration, have significantly
affected the physical production of foodstuffs,
generating fears about their ‘‘potential to
destroy the rich culinary diversity of member
states’’ (MacMaola
´in 2007:19). For example,
EU hygiene and health standards requiring
pasteurization limit the production and sale of
certain raw-milk cheeses (West 2008). Cross-
national obligations to distribute foodstuffs
among states also open producers to potentially
unfair trading practices and price competition
from those with better resources (MacMaola
In 1992, recognizing dilemmas created by
this system, particularly for small-scale and
artisanal food producers with aspirations to
sell in national and international markets,
the EU instituted a program to register cer-
tain food and agricultural products as excep-
tions to CAP. Within this program, producers
of ‘‘traditional’’ food products can apply
to receive one of three EU-sponsored
labels—Protected Designation of Origin
(PDO), Protected Geographical Indication
(PGI), or Traditional Specialty Guaranteed
(TSG)—to designate their products as pos-
sessing certain unique characteristics, mostly
associated with place. These labels aim to
protect food products from imitation, their
names from misuse, and consumers from
potential misrepresentation. Of the 790 labels
awarded before December 31, 2007, 57 per-
cent were PDO, 41 percent were PGI, and
only 2 percent were for TSG.4For PDO
and PGI registrations, a product must be
linked to a geographical area. The TSG label
reflects the use of traditional production
methods but does not specify place.5
Claims based on geographical origin have
been more desirable than those for produc-
tion method, supporting the relevance of gas-
tronationalism. Moreover, these claims give
certain producers within certain nations the
right to use place names in their marketing,
packaging, and presentation. They thus link
sets of values and symbols to institutional-
ized representations of territory and history,
and ‘‘share the common goal of furthering
authenticity’’ within member states and the
EU as a whole (European Commission
2006:5). Authenticity claims linking food to
place—what the French term terroir, or
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what Trubek (2008) calls ‘‘the taste of
place’’—rest on assumptions that geographic
conditions contribute to foods’ inherent char-
acteristics and qualities (Bell and Valentine
1997). These foods are typically marketed
and sold as specialty products because of
their limited availability (van der Lans et
al. 2001). Table 1 provides several examples
of these products.
From 1992 until January 1994, member
states used an abbreviated application proce-
dure to inform the Commission of foodstuffs
they wished to register, with the understanding
that designations satisfying the Commission’s
requirements would be registered. During this
period, some countries (e.g., France, Spain,
and Germany) submitted many more applica-
tions than others (e.g., the Netherlands).
After January 1994, the registration proce-
dure intensified, giving early adopters of the
program an advantage. The new label
registration process, which remains in effect
today, requires a group of producers to organize
into a consortium, create a specific definitionof
their product,6and submit an application to
their national agricultural office. The national
office then examines the application to ensure
compliance with the requirements and chooses
whether to forward it to the European
Commission’s Agricultural and Rural
Development Department. If forwarded, the
Official Journal of European Communities
publishes the request to inform other member
states and the general public of the application.
External parties have six months to lodge an
objection, admissible only (1) if theapplication
is not in full compliance with requirements, (2)
if the name is considered generic, or (3) if reg-
istering the name would jeopardize the exis-
tence of a similarly named product or
trademark. If no objections are made, the
European Commission registers and publishes
Table 1. Examples of PDO, PGI, and TSG Labeled Products
Label Name of Product Country Type of Product
PDOaFromage de Hevre Belgium Cheese
Prosciutto di Parma Italy Ham
Dinde de Bresse France Poultry
Cabrito Transmontano Portugal Goat
Orkney Lamb United Kingdom Lamb/Mutton
Kalamata Greece Olives
Waldviertler Graumohn Austria Poppy Seeds
Basilico Genovese Italy Basil
Opperdoezer Ronde Netherlands Potatoes
PGIbDanablu Denmark Cheese
¨lder Schinken Germany Ham
Chouricxo de Portalegre Portugal Pork Sausage
Zakynthos Greece Olive Oil
Clare Island Salmon Ireland Fish
´pivo Czech Republic Beer
Miel de Provence France Honey
´rrago de Hue
´jar Spain Asparagus
Canard a
`foie gras du Sud-Ouest France Poultry
TSGcKalakukko Finland Meat Pie
Kriek-Lambic, Framboise-
Belgium Beer
´n Serrano Spain Ham
Mozzarella Italy Cheese
aPDO: Protected Designation of Origin
bPGI: Protected Geographical Indication
cTSG: Traditional Specialty Guaranteed
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the newly protected name in the Official
Journal of European Communities. It is a mem-
ber state’s responsibility to ensure that its regis-
tered products comply with official
The 790 products registered before
December 31, 2007 (as well as those pending
approval) are not distributed evenly among
member states. To determine why gastrona-
tionalism is more pronounced in certain coun-
tries, I chose several country-level variables
to examine national patterns in the configura-
tion of these labels. Table 2 presents variables
corresponding to the 21 countries that have at
least one registered food product.7
To identify conditions associated with
countries that are high utilizers of the labeling
program (i.e., Italy, France, Spain, Portugal,
Greece, and Germany), I first calculated the
number of labels registered in each country
per capita (in millions) and per 10,000 km2
to control for each country’s population size
and land area (e.g., the difference between
Germany and the Netherlands). Population
and area show statistically significant correla-
tions with the number of registered labels (p\
.01). Population density within countries,
however, is not statistically significant.
Portugal, Germany, and Luxembourg have
the highest rate of labels per capita and in rela-
tion to areal extent. Luxembourg’s relational
numbers are high, however, due to its very
small size and population; thus, I do not con-
sider it equally alongside other member states
in calculating low versus high utilizers.
After controlling for the size of population
and territory, I hypothesized a significant pos-
itive correlation between number of origin la-
bels and national reliance on agricultural
output, measured by the current value of
each country’s agricultural contribution to
gross domestic product (GDP) (Column 5 in
Table 2) and the percentage of each country’s
population employed in agriculture (Column 6
in Table 2). Neither of these correlations are
statistically significant (R 5.187 for the pop-
ulation measure and R 5.052 for GDP contri-
bution). Greece is the only country with both
a high per capita measure of registrations and
high levels of agricultural GDP contribution
and agricultural employment. A large percent-
age of Portugal’s population is involved in
agricultural production, but contribution to
GDP is low. Other countries with high rates
of agricultural contribution to GDP, such as
Poland and Hungary, have extremely low rates
of registered food origin labels. National reli-
ance on agricultural output does not correlate
with being a high utilizer of the origin labeling
I then considered whether countries had
a program to geographically demarcate agri-
cultural products before the EU program
began. Producers from countries with exist-
ing designation programs would likely per-
ceive value in the new pan-national system.
Countries with prior appellation programs8
should hypothetically be high utilizers of
protected designation labels.9
Indeed, there is a strong positive relation-
ship between the prior existence of such pro-
grams and the percentage of total labels
registered by high utilizing countries. For
the six countries that had appellation infra-
structure prior to the EU program,10 the
mean percentage of total origin labels is
14.63 (SD 54.88). For countries without
such a program, the mean percentage of total
origin labels is .86 (SD 5.98, t 510.7, df 5
18, p\.001). A t-test shows statistical sig-
nificance at p\.01. Correlating the exis-
tence of an infrastructure with a country’s
number of labels (controlling for population)
is also statistically significant (p\.05, R 5
.502, N 519). Existing programs did provide
an entrenched organizational form that
helped producer-organized consortia succeed
at making use of the EU’s program.
Do states’ leaders view nationally mark-
ing food items as a means to gather addi-
tional support for collective identity and
self-presentation (e.g., we eat Kalamata
olives because we are Greek, and it is part
of our identity to do so)? I considered the rel-
ative degree of each country’s national culi-
nary self-consciousness to assess the extent
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Table 2. Comparing Percent of National Origin Labels by Levels of Agriculture, Infrastructure, and Culinary Self-Consciousness
Number of
Registered Labels
(before Dec. 31,
Number of
Labels per Capita
(population in
Number of Labels by
Country Area (km2
in tens of thousands)
Percent of Total
Employed in
Agriculture and
Fishing Contribution
to GDP (in 2005)b
Infrastructure prior
to 1990
Culinary Self-
Austria 12 1.44 1.43 4.33 1.54 No Low
Belgium 10 .95 3.28 1.59 1.04 No Low
Britain 30 .50 1.33 1.65 1.01 (for UK) Not in England;
Scotch whiskey
Cyprus 1 1.28 1.08 8.5 3.1 (included in Greece) Low
12 1.15 1.52 7.3 2.90 No Low
Denmark 3 .55 .70 3.24 1.81 No Low
Finland 4 .75 .12 5.02 2.87 No Low
France 156 2.45 2.31 2.75 2.20 Yes High
Germany 68 .83 1.90 2.09 .88 Yes Medium
Greece 85 7.64 6.44 11.71 5.23 Yes Medium
Hungary 1 .10 .11 10.45 4.32 Yes Medium
Ireland 4 .92 .57 8.85 2.49 No Medium
Italy 166 2.93 5.51 4.37 2.26 Yes High
Luxembourg 4 8.33 15.47 1.98 .42 No Low
Netherlands 7 .43 1.69 2.98 2.06 No Low
Poland 2 .05 .06 17.14 4.64 No Medium
Portugal 105 9.91 11.36 12.53 2.87 Yes Medium
1 .19 .20 8.10 3.85 No Low
Slovenia 1 .49 .49 6.89 2.53 No Low
Spain 114 2.48 2.25 6.01 3.31 Yes High
Sweden 4 .43 .09 3.09 1.13 No Low
Total 790 R 5.644** R5.600** R5.187 R 5.052 R 5.502*Spearman rho 5
Note: Highest values in columns are in italics.
aSource for population data: 2004 FAOSTAT; national statistical offices. Data may reflect agricultural work related to production of food and beverages
(including wine).
bSource for agriculture and fishing contribution to GDP: World Bank World Development Indicators.
*p\.05; **p\.01 (two-tailed tests).
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to which food and cuisine appear central to
promoting national identity to internal and
external audiences.11 I constructed a metric
of culinary self-consciousness out of three
variables: existence of national food festi-
vals, books about cuisine for foreign audien-
ces, and whether a country recently applied
to the United Nations Educational, Scientific
and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to rec-
ognize its overall culinary heritage, as sev-
eral European nations did in 2008 (Sciolino
I scored each measure 0, .5, or 1 across
three variables and combined them in a 0 to
3 scale. To consider promotion to internal
national audiences, I ranked the number of
food-related festivals and food trade shows
by country in 2008, as catalogued by,13 and assigned a 1 to
countries that had seven or more festivals
that year and .5 to the two countries that
had between three and six festivals
(Belgium and Ireland).14 To account for the
perceived role of external audiences in gener-
ating national culinary self-consciousness, I
ranked the number of books about each coun-
try’s cuisine sold under the ‘‘travel/food’
category at the U.S.-based I
coded the four countries higher than the aver-
age (mean 515.67) as 1, and the seven coun-
tries that had between 7 and 14 books listed
received a .5.15 While these criteria might
also be used to measure publishing or tour-
ism, they do link to ideas about the degree
to which culinary cultures are promoted to
outsiders. For the third measure, I assigned
a 1 to countries that applied to UNESCO in
2008 to include their national food culture
(i.e., France) or the Mediterranean Diet (i.e.,
Spain, Italy, and Greece) on UNESCO’s list
of cultural heritage sites and patrimonial
I then assigned a high measure of culinary
self-consciousness (see Table 2) to the three
countries that scored a 3 on the compendium
measure: France, Italy, and Spain, which are
three of the six countries with the highest rates
of label registrations. The other three countries
with high rates of label registrations—Greece,
Portugal, and Germany—scored a medium.
The Spearman rank-order correlation coeffi-
cient (a non-parametric measure of as-
sociation based on the rank-ordering of
variables) calculated between culinary self-
consciousness and the percentage of total ori-
gin labels by country is .525 (p\.05, N 520),
indicative of a strong positive relationship
between the two. Controlling for a country’s
number of labels per capita, however, negates
the measure’s statistical significance, indicat-
ing either that the measure is not highly corre-
lated to label registrations or that national
interest in food and cuisine is not dependent
on population numbers.
If considering the first explanation, re-
gressing these three variables (i.e., agricul-
ture, appellation, and culinary self-
consciousness per capita) against a country’s
number of labels per capita shows, indeed,
that only preexisting appellation infrastruc-
ture is statistically significant (b54.879,
p\.05). If considering the second, the nom-
inal variables of previous appellation and
culinary self-consciousness are individually
necessary and jointly sufficient conditions
for countries to be high utilizers of gastrona-
tionalist claims (Mahoney 2000). If a neces-
sary condition is present, the outcome could
be either present or absent. Yet, the two var-
iables are jointly sufficient, so a present suf-
ficient variable (from either column) means
the outcome (high utilization) will be pres-
ent. Countries with appellation infrastruc-
tures and/or high or medium levels of
culinary self-consciousness will thus have
significantly higher levels of protective ori-
gin labels institutionalized through the EU
program, and they will be more likely to
advance gastronationalist claims.
Few origin label applications are unsuc-
cessful (personal communication, Antonella
Farnararo, DG Agriculture Office), but some
can be. For example, although Italian law pre-
viously enforced domestic standards for pro-
duction of pasta (as made exclusively from
durum wheat), Italy was unable to register it.
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Even though many consumers consider pasta
to have Italian origins, production had dif-
fused too widely and its ‘‘generic’’ name pre-
vented it from receiving a label. Italy was
successful, however, in registering ‘‘pizza
Napoletana’’ as a TSG in April 2008, after
14 years of legal wrangling (Article 8(2) of
Regulation 509/2006). The registration speci-
fies, among other details, the hours required
for leavening the dough, as well as its required
height, baking temperature, and seasonings
(but not the place of production).16
Claims for the protection of particular food-
stuffs as nationally significant help us under-
stand the revitalization of practices or items
considered traditional during times when old
identities are perceived to be in jeopardy
(Calhoun 1993; Cavanaugh 2004; Hobsbawm
and Ranger 1983). Gastronationalism is exclu-
sionary in this regard because it prohibits others
from making similar food claims, either materi-
ally or symbolically. The European Court of
Justice resolves competing national interests.
For example, in February 2008, the Court ruled
that only cheeses bearing the PDO
‘‘Parmigiano-Reggiano’’17 can be sold as
‘‘Parmesan’’ cheese in European member
states outside of Italy. This ruling followed
three years of infringement proceedings
brought by the Consorzio di Parmigiano-
Reggiano and the European Commission
against Germany for marketing its own version
of ‘‘Parmesan’’ and not sufficiently protecting
the Italian PDO in its market.
Another important case—often cited by
food law scholars—is a 10-year legal dispute
between Greece and other member states
over feta cheese. Greek feta production has
been codified in increasingly specific terms
since 1935 (Dalby 1996); it was awarded
a PDO label in the first official list of regis-
tered products (Regulation 1107/1996). In
1999, Denmark and Germany, supported by
the United Kingdom and France, contested
the label, raising three key issues concerning
feta’s status as Greek. First, they argued that
the name ‘‘feta’’ contains no geographic
place name and actually derives from an
Italian word. Second, the geographic area
that Greece submitted in its application en-
compasses a variety of climate conditions
shared by other European nations. Third,
and perhaps most important to the
European Commission’s decision to annul
Greece’s PDO (Regulation 1070/1999), they
argued that the name had become generic
and was therefore ineligible for protection
(Evans and Blakeney 2006).18
Revisiting the issue in 2002, the
Commission reversed its ruling and rein-
stated the registration of feta as a Greek
PDO (Regulation 1829/2002). The Court
upheld its ruling after an appeal from
Denmark and Germany, noting in its brief
that 85 percent of production and 80 percent
of consumption occurred in Greece, and that
feta cheese produced in Denmark and
Germany often referred to Greece with
words, pictures, or color schemes on its pack-
aging. Non-Greek cheese-makers lost the
right to use the name ‘‘feta’’ within the EU
at the end of 2007 (Evans and Blakeney
2006), but they may still sell their cheeses
as ‘‘feta’’ outside the EU (e.g., when ex-
ported to the United States).
These cases show how the EU program con-
fers on foods (and their producers) the legal
right to draw national boundaries in an other-
wise open marketplace. The labels are often
promoted as improving farmers’ incomes, sup-
port and resources for rural communities, and
retention of rural populations—and in many
cases, they do. More importantly, gastrona-
tional claims about the significance of tradition
and authenticity, as invoked in the organiza-
tional work of registering an origin label, high-
light the nationalized revaluation of food
producers who might otherwise disappear in
a competitive pan-national climate.
The Case of French Foie Gras
Beyond international implications, gastrona-
tionalism as a construct possesses important
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micro-level complexities, namely its use in
defensive claimsmaking for a particular food
within a nation, and institutional strategies at
the level of lived experience. As a case of gas-
tronationalism, foie gras differs from pro-
tected foods like feta cheese or proscuitto di
Parma because organizations in the United
States and many EU countries want its produc-
tion to cease altogether.19 Animal rights
groups argue that foie gras’s production meth-
ods are cruel and immoral. Foie gras produc-
tion in Europe is regulated by the European
Union Commission on Animal Health and
Welfare, but many EU member states have
outlawed its production within their borders.
Its marketing and consumption cannot be
banned, however, due to CAP’s principle of
mutual recognition (Article 28 EC).20
Foie gras is the fattened liver of a duck or
goose. It is produced through a process known
as gavage, which requires a person to use a tube
to manually feed the duck or goose two or three
times a day in the last 12 to 20 days of the bird’s
life. Long valued as a specialty dish, foie gras
was first depicted in Egyptian bas-reliefs from
2500 BC and documented in Roman agricul-
tural treatises (Serventi 2002; Toussaint-
Samat 1994). Historical texts attribute its prev-
alence in France to the Romans in Gaul (south-
western France) and to Jewish populations in
northeast France, who raised geese for their
kosher cooking fat. The French gastronomic
foie gras tradition has roots in early culinary
texts such as La Varenne’s Le Cuisinier
Francxois, published in 1651, and the menus
of seventeenth-century royal banquets
´rard 1998). By the 1800s, goose foie gras
had become an integral part of the emergent
field of French gastronomy and an international
status symbol of luxury and elegance (Ginor
Today, foie gras is ubiquitous in France.
As of 2006, around 80 percent of world
foie gras production and 90 percent of world
consumption occur there, where it is a $2.5
billion industry. According to Comite
InterProfessionnel des Palmipe
`des du Foie
Gras (CIFOG), the French foie gras industry
encompasses approximately 15,000 farms
and 600 processing facilities, ranging from
small family-run businesses to large-scale
operations. The industry employs about
30,000 people, including many part-time
and seasonal workers, and it indirectly af-
fects about 100,000 jobs (e.g., veterinary
practices, business, marketing, distribution,
and tourism). Throughout the country, menus
abound with foie gras dishes. Specialty foie
gras shops are part of urban streetscapes,
and foie gras is sold at most outdoor markets,
specialty grocery stores, large supermarkets,
chain stores, and, in the Southwest, even at
gas station convenience stores.
The conditions of French foie gras pro-
duction and consumption are, in fact, recent
phenomena. Rates of foie gras production
and consumption within France have tripled
since the 1970s, due in large part to state sup-
port (through the National Institute for
Agricultural Research [INRA]) for new tech-
nologies that lowered production costs
(Jullien and Smith 2008). In the 1980s, the
introduction of pneumatic, hydraulic, and
computer-calibrated feeding systems allowed
each duck to be fed in several seconds, rather
than the 30- to 60-second feeding required
for artisanal production.21 Additionally, the
industry-wide switch in the 1970s to making
foie gras from ducks (which are considered
heartier and easier to keep in industrial
farm facilities) instead of geese made foie
gras less expensive and thus available to
a wider range of consumers. In interviews,
industry members referred to these processes
as ‘‘the democratization of foie gras.’
French government directives concerning
foie gras production emerged only within
the past few decades, concurrent with ex-
panding EU political and market integration.
In 1993, the French government issued regu-
latory guidelines that created specific defini-
tions for different foie gras products. In 1998,
an EU Council Directive codified guidelines
for the welfare of all animals kept for agri-
cultural purposes in Europe. The 93-page
document specific to foie gras production
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defines animal welfare measurements and
includes recommendations to improve pro-
duction conditions (Scientific Committee
on Animal Health and Animal Welfare
1998).22 In response to an inquiry posed
the Council stressed that ‘‘it should be men-
tioned that a ban on force-feeding is neither
foreseen by the Directive nor by the re-
commendations mentioned’’ (European
Commission 2001).
Around the same time these recom-
mendations were released, in early 1999, the
French government applied for and received
the EU PGI label ‘‘Canard a
`foie gras du
Sud-Ouest.’’23 The application was criticized
not by animal rights groups, but by small-
scale, artisanal foie gras producers for its
lack of specificity concerning the size of pro-
duction operations and particular quality
measures for the resulting products. These
producers’ claims indicated fears that tradi-
tional, small-scale farms would be put in eco-
nomic jeopardy by industrial producers
´choueyres 2007). National agricultural
authorities, however, were invested in having
the EU designate foie gras a French food.
The French national office and the European
Commission accepted the application, allow-
ing producers of any size in Southwestern
France to obtain the PGI label.
Throughout this period, France faced
mounting international criticism of foie gras
production from animal rights organiza-
tions.24 Protests and vandalism in Britain tar-
geted department stores and restaurants that
sold foie gras, and legislators across the
United States considered prohibitions. A
small but vocal animal rights group within
France, Stop Gavage, began to get media
attention and to draw support from interna-
tional animal rights groups.25
In October 2005, legislators in the French
National Assembly and Senate voted by large
majorities to declare foie gras part of the
‘‘officially-protected cultural and gas-
tronomic patrimony of France’’ (Loi
d’orientation agricole n°2341, article L654-
27-1 du code rural). The Assembly’s deputies
provided an accompaniment to the amend-
ment, which proclaimed that ‘‘foie gras is
an emblematic element of our gastronomy
and our culture.’’ The amendment noted
that the product ‘‘perfectly fulfills criteria’
defining national patrimony ‘‘and the link
to terroir that characterizes the originality
of the French food model.’’ Testimony by
Senate legislators suggests that the declara-
tion was made ‘‘anticipating any initiative
from Brussels [the EU’s headquarters].’’ In
response to a senator’s statement that the
‘‘advertisement of foie gras in law’’ by
national endorsement seemed unnecessary,
another responded that ‘‘it is because gavage
is contested that it is necessary to inscribe it
in law; otherwise, the good spirits of Brussels
will come and ban from us all that is our
As this exchange indicates, gastronation-
alism’s targets necessarily include national
and international audiences in linking moral,
patriotic, and market actions as one and the
same. Perceptions of ideological differences
rendered national boundary maintenance
strategies around foie gras necessary within
the pan-national enterprise; ideas about inter-
national condemnation galvanized this gas-
tronationalist claim for institutionalized
protection of national cultural patrimony.
Even the head of Stop Gavage understands
the uphill battle his group faces. When I
asked him why he believes France decided
to protect foie gras, he responded:
There is a recent polarization on foie gras—it
is the patrimony. It is the identity of
France. It’s like wine from Bordeaux.
Development of foie gras production is
within the last 60 years, more or less. It
was there, but very weak before, there
was little consumption, not all that wide-
spread. So, the foie gras industry had
a lot of work to do on the image of foie
gras as something from the Southwest
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and, later, as being part of the image of
France, like the Eiffel Tower.
His response illustrates how state-market re-
lationships use the concept and tools of cul-
ture, even when the object in question is
morally problematic.
Naturalizing and Historicizing
National Tradition
Perceptions of a country’s history influence
which objects are incorporated into cultural
identity narratives (Hobsbawm and Ranger
1983; Scares 1997), and these perceptions
necessarily respond to internal and external
forces. My interviews and conversations
with people at all levels of the French foie
gras industry were replete with claims and
stories that relied heavily on the concepts
of nature, history, and tradition in order to
link foie gras to contemporary French
national interests and self-identity.
Conceptual uses of nature, as Le
(1969) has taught us, are culturally embed-
ded phenomena, and distinctions between
nature and culture are the products of ideo-
logical choices. Throughout my interviews
and review of secondary sources, I found
the explanation that foie gras production
mimics or exploits a ‘‘natural process’
(i.e., waterfowl store fat in the liver for
migration). Informants frequently invoked
this claim in response to questions regarding
current criticism, to challenge accusations
that production imposed ‘‘unnaturalness’
on the birds, or to explain the use of ducks
and geese instead of other birds or animals
(see also Heath and Meneley 2007). These
narratives also connect origin and discovery
stories of foie gras production in Egyptian
and Roman civilizations to its current prom-
inent position in French culinary culture, ex-
tending the ‘‘greatness’’ of past civilizations
to the present (Dalby 2003; Ginor 1999;
Serventi 2002).
Moreover, linking nature and the physical
landscape with ‘‘authentic’’ products draws
attention to the materiality of gastronational-
ism. In contrast to environmental and eco-
logical discourses thatemergedoutof
nineteenth-century romanticism, which
present nature as either a utopian paradise
or a threatening wilderness outside the
bounds of human society (Heller 1999),
the French vision of ‘‘nature’’ is predicated
on notions of social rural life. According to
French sociologist Claude Fischler (1990),
these include the terroir and savoir-faire
that produce the wine, cheese, and pa
that are emblematic of French cultural
Foie gras is historicized as part of social
rural life by invoking familial tradition.
Several of the small-scale farms I visited
send someone to drive around France once
or twice each year to make deliveries to
long-time clients and friends. Interviewees
frequently mentioned their grandmothers
as influential in their conceptions of foie
gras’s traditional Frenchness (similar to
folk understandings of the cowboy in
North American cattle production [Blue
2008]).27 Until the advent of industrialized
foie gras production, it was typically the
job of elder female family members to raise
poultry and other small animals for house-
hold consumption. For some country fami-
lies, this role continues:
Bonne-maman, at age 75, still raises and
feeds about 20 to 30 birds each November
for the winter holidays for her children’s
families. She tells me that she’s done this
all her life and learned the practice from
her grandmother. She uses the old-fash-
ioned gavage tool, where she sits on a chair
or stool and, while wearing a skirt, holds
the bird between her legs to feed it. She
soaks the corn kernels in water to soften
them for the feed. She also showed me
her vegetable garden and several rabbits
she keeps for food. (fieldnotes)
These narratives connect the social realms of
family, civil society, and the market to
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naturalize and ennoble foie gras’s Frenchness
within local and national communities.
Campaigns created and heavily marketed
by local governments and chambers of com-
merce to encourage regional tourism within
France also characterize foie gras as indicative
of French national identity. While tourism has
long been critiqued for oversimplifying the
subtle variations of cultures and for physically
manipulating places to create an air of authen-
ticity for visitors (MacCannell 1973), the exis-
tence of an organizational infrastructure for
tourism indicates institutional values assigned
to a place or culture, whether or not these val-
ues are ideologically charged or in flux
(Gotham 2007).
Entire towns and regions within France
use foie gras production and consumption
as draws for tourism. Sarlat-le-Cane
a well-preserved medieval town in Pe
is a foie gras Disneyland. Every restaurant
in the city center, including a pizzeria, adver-
tises foie gras dishes. Storefronts are packed
with duck and goose products and related
knick-knacks. In the town’s central plaza,
tourists often take photographs with the
bronze statue of three geese, which was
donated in 1875 by Rougie
´, currently
France’s largest foie gras producer.
Signs for foie gras farms and their
attached shops, sometimes hand-drawn to
evoke rustic charm, dot the southwestern
French countryside.26 These signs often pre-
sent images of smiling ducks wearing bow-
ties or playing musical instruments. Visitors
can eat at restaurants located on these small,
picturesque farms or stay overnight in inex-
pensive guest rooms. Marche
´s du gras (fat
markets) are another draw in these regions
for tourists and locals alike. Every week dur-
ing the winter, people can purchase duck and
goose carcasses and livers directly from pro-
ducers at these markets. These are not regular
farmers markets; the only things sold are raw
carcasses and livers. I watched several hun-
dred people line up at a November marche
du gras in the town of Gimont, anxious for
the market’s controller to blow the 10 a.m.
start whistle; they stampeded to the tables,
shopping baskets in hand, once he did.
The Southwestern departments’ govern-
ment-sponsored tourist offices have also
spurred the development of the ‘‘foie gras
weekend.’’ Organized and promoted with
support from the national agricultural office,
visitors can spend a night on a working foie
gras farm, where the main activity is cutting
up and cooking your own duck or goose to
bring home, with instruction from the farm’s
proprietor. According to my interviews with
local government and tourism officials, the
goals of these programs are to acquaint
French people and foreigners with the people
engaged in foie gras production, to increase
consumption, and to ‘‘prove’’ to visitors
foie gras’s national cultural value.
National Solidarity and Cultural
Gastronationalism must appeal to an immedi-
ate level of collective identity that recognizes
boundaries between insiders and outsiders.
One potential informant, a professor, told
our intermediary she would meet with me
only if I ‘‘enjoyed eating foie gras.’’ When
I asked her why she had solicited this infor-
mation, she responded:
Because you came with the category of
American. And, some Americans are
against the production of foie gras. So, I
didn’t want to invite one of them, because
I didn’t want to meet someone who doesn’t
like foie gras. It’s a question of national sol-
idarity. I don’t think I am especially nation-
alist, but in this context, I defend it.
When asked about bans and critiques out-
side of France, rather than defending foie
gras production as not cruel, almost all inter-
viewees responded by valorizing it as an
authentic French food and connecting it to
a perceived sense of belonging based on
national tradition. For example, the president
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of CIFOG and CEO of Feyel-Artzner (a
Strasbourg-based foie gras company) ex-
plained (in English):
I cannot imagine that foie gras could be
banned in France because it’s a very tradi-
tional product, consumed in this country
for a long time. Our country and our law
say that our product is a traditional product
that has to be protected. It’s by law. Mainly
people like it as a gastronomic product.
But, they buy it also because it’s a ritual.
You have to. It’s exactly the same as in
your country, at Thanksgiving you have to
have your turkey. There is no
Thanksgiving without turkey. And, we
have no Christmas without foie gras. It’s
a ritual in our country. You have to do it.
Similar to the role played by the
Thanksgiving turkey in bringing American
families together for a ritualized meal, the
work of cultivating French national taste for
foie gras steeps it in cultural notions of tradi-
tion. One visitor to a gastronomic food exposi-
tion in Paris told me (in English), ‘‘If you try to
beat the foie gras traditions, you’re going to
beat the traditions of Christmas for us. I am
35 years old, and have had foie gras at every
holiday.’’ Legal protections, however, around
foie gras in France and turkey in the United
States differ. Although it is possible that tur-
key production will one day be a cornerstone
of international contentious politics for animal
rights movements, it is not currently so, nor
has the U.S. government offered special legal
recognition and protection to its production.
Embedding foie gras in French law politicizes
it as central to France’s self-identity as a leader
in both culinary culture and resisting global
market forces.
While somewhat of an exceptional case of
gastronationalism, foie gras offers a unique
lens into the work of maintaining national
boundaries within a pan-national system.
The 2005 legislative protection of foie gras
reflects and emboldens the use of cultural
narratives of tradition and national defense
within foie gras’s social and material worlds.
Producers and state representatives recognize
foie gras as something dear to them placed in
potential jeopardy by external forces. Foie
gras has come to represent and demarcate
French national patrimony, at least in part,
because it is morally contentious elsewhere.
Today, preserving foie gras is a small but sig-
nificant way for the French to defend the idea
of France.
Block and Somers’s (2005) concept of ‘‘idea-
tional embeddedness’’ describes how ideas
have power in shaping market-based regimes.
While they apply this concept to the transfor-
mation of state-sponsored welfare regimes
into more market-driven entities, their atten-
tion toward the coupling of economic princi-
ples with the power of ideas provides
a template for considering how states and
industries use culture to legitimate and protect
their markets. Yet, policy discourses around
the globe about the protection of culture in
the face of homogenizing markets reveal
how cultural exceptions problematize policies
that promote cross-national cooperation.
Gastronationalism is an important claims-
making device for sociologists to consider in
this regard. While some may interpret such
policies as simply protecting material inter-
ests, the data presented here demonstrate
that gastronationalism’s contentiousness cre-
ates a means of cultural and national differ-
entiation. Although it remains politically
rooted and shaped by markets, gastronation-
alism elucidates patterns of, and claims for,
exceptionalism based on notions of cultural
tradition and patrimony. It strategically
weds considerations of national identity to
the idea of the nation as a protector of cul-
tural patrimony, as demonstrated by Tables
1 and 2. Nationalist layering of marketing
and myth-making in contentious food politics
further suggests that food itself contributes to
national claims of significant qualitative
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differences and to the power dynamics of
national identity politics.
The case of foie gras permits deeper scru-
tiny of gastronationalism’s ideological com-
ponents in protectionist policies and the
theoretical significance of institutionalized
cultural resistance to globalism. Foie gras
politics are not simply a national peculiarity,
but a manifestation of national cultural iden-
tity that deliberately addresses foie gras’s,
and thus France’s, standing in the EU.
External claims about the morality of animal
welfare are countered with claims about the
salient roles played by history and traditions
in supporting contemporary cultural identity
and uniqueness. Gastronationalism buttresses
national identity against perceived threats
from outsiders who wish to eliminate certain
objects or practices. This adds an important
layer to gastronationalism’s role in creating
cultural market and political protections.
For France, gastronationalism is central to
bolstering national self-identification. Cuisine
continues to be one of the most universally rec-
ognized components of French culture, and one
of France’s greatest sources of domestic and
international pride (Pitte 2002; Shields-
Argeles 2004; Trubek 2008). French cuisine’s
institutional threads reach from the Guide
Michelin system of restaurant ratings, which
centralized symbolic power in the culinary field
(Hansen 2008), to the Meilleur Ouvrier de
France, a coveted award within the culinary
profession that, since 1924, gives winners the
right to wear the French flag’s colors on their
collars (Fantasia forthcoming). As Meunier
(2000:107) writes, ‘‘by painting globalization
as a direct attack on French food, its opponents
receive national approbation for a collective
struggle against la mal-bouffe, or ‘lousy food.’’
State-based gastronational strategies have
reverberated nationally. In 1989, the French
Ministry of Culture created the Conseil
National des Arts Culinaires (National
Council of Culinary Arts), with the mission
of protecting French gastronomy by teaching
about the national palate. Its activities
include a taste education program for
children and an official inventory of the culi-
nary patrimony of each French region.
Gastronomic expositions are held throughout
France (financed by city governments) to
expose people to foods from different regions.
The Salon Saveurs in Paris, for example, is
a biannual three-day affair that hosts 250 to
300 artisan producers of various food products
(including many with PDO and PGI labels, and
20 to 25 foie gras booths) and 25,000 visitors.
These expositions are important sales and net-
working resources, allowing small- and
medium-sized food producers to circumvent
large distribution channels and build national
awareness of their products.
Conceptually, the construct of cuisine em-
phasizes the development of specific tech-
niques and celebrates chefs who possess
those techniques (Ferguson 2004; Trubek
2000). This makes cuisine portable across
space and time.28 For example, celebrated
French chefs made New York City a mecca
for haute cuisine restaurants in the late-nine-
teenth century (Kuh 2001), and today ac-
claimed chefs from Europe and the United
States, such as Alain Ducasse and Daniel
Boulud, are opening restaurants in Japan
and China.
Gastronationalism, on the other hand,
focuses on the institutionalized protection and
promotion of certain food items as grounded
in their place of production. The concept of
an origin designation for a food product incor-
porates the unique material roles of soil, cli-
mate, and the specialized knowledge that
accompanies generations of food producers
tied to a particular locale; it is the materiality
of the food ingredient in its raw form that is val-
ued. By using food as a material vehicle of
national identity, gastronationalism meshes
the power and resources of cultural, political,
and economic identities as they shape and are
shaped by institutional protections.
Gastronationalism is confined neither to
high-utilizing countries nor to Europe, espe-
cially as issues of food safety and producers’
economic viability receive media attention
and public scrutiny. Geographic labeling
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programs for food and consumer products are
becoming widespread across the globe (Evans
and Blakeney 2006), and they serve as
strategic assets for producers who wish to
manage their identity and differentiate
themselves from others (Lounsbury and
Glynn 2001). For example, the oriGIn
project (Organisation for an International
Geographical Indications Network), a Swiss-
based nongovernmental organization repre-
senting 85 groups from more than 30
countries, began advocating in 2003 for more
legal protections for geographic indicators at
transnational levels. The group’s membership
currently includes such diverse products as
Bolivian Quinua Real de Lipez, Guatemalan
´de Antigua, Indian Basmati rice,
Kenyan tea, Idaho potatoes, and Mexican
International private organizations, such
as Slow Food, provide similar institutional
support and recognition for foods and food
producers they consider ‘‘authentic.’’ Slow
Food (which originated in Italy and has con-
sortia across the globe, including an active
presence in the United States) prides itself
on preserving and promoting artisanal food
items and traditional production practices
considered ‘‘near extinction’’ due to global
impacts of agribusiness (Andrews 2008;
Chrzan 2004).
These public and private organizational
forms tell a story that distinguishes gastrona-
tionalism from a simple dichotomy of tradi-
tion versus progress. These organizations
oppose homogenizing forces in principle,
yet they rely on such forces to differentiate
themselves when promoting multiple
localisms—what Slow Food calls ‘‘virtuous
globalization.’’ Furthermore, without valua-
tion and purchase by wealthier consumers
(as Slow Food argues), some food traditions
would be economically unsustainable and
disappear, making this type of globalism
more palatable for anti-globalization adher-
ents. Such strategies, however, must remain
cognizant of their potential to promote
a romanticized past that ignores the travails
of peasants, farmers, and the poor, what
Laudan (2004) calls ‘‘culinary Luddism.’
Gastronationalism is part of a broader
identity project unfolding across Europe
and the world that is responding to potential
losses of control of production and national
industries, accelerated by global moves
toward open trade (Barber 1996; Dobbin
et al. 2007; Steger 2002). In terms of public
attentiveness, gastronationalism ties to, and
potentially substitutes for, attention paid to
other changes accompanying pan-national
integration politics, such as income in-
equality (Beckfield 2006), the welfare
state (Brady, Seeleib-Kaiser, and Beckfield
2005), and new waves of migrants escaping
poverty and political persecution (Gingrich
and Banks 2006). In this regard, gastrona-
tionalism could be considered part of the
same response to globalism that has given
rise to xenophobic nationalist organizations
(Taras 2009).
Combining the work and resources of food
industries with national interests demonstrates
the importance of considering contentious
micro-cultural politics in the study of multi-
state systems. This project endorses economic
sociologists’ growing interest in meaning-
making within market-state systems.
Engagement with meanings and materials
associated with a rapidly receding past sit-
uates, and even creates, these present-day
forms of institutionalized protections.
Gastronationalism is a critical concept for so-
ciologists: it reflects and refracts social condi-
tions under which market-based identities
engage with national boundaries, the public
recognition of difference, and the importance
of community. Its myriad consequences for
consumers, interest groups, industries, and
policymakers, however, remain to be seen.
I am grateful for the most helpful of comments and sug-
gestions from Gary Alan Fine, Elise Lipkowitz, John
Millhauser, Mark Caro, Erin McDonnell, Geoff
Harkness, Lynn Gazley, Heather Schoenfeld, David
Schleifer, Christopher Bail, Nicola Beisel, Jeremy Freese,
DeSoucey 449
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James Mahoney, the Northwestern University Culture
Workshop, ASR editors Vinnie Roscigno and Randy
Hodson,and the anonymous reviewers. I also warmlythank
the late AllanSchnaiberg for his steadfast support andmen-
torship throughout the years.
1. I use ‘‘gastronationalism’’ as coined by Swart (2000,
2002) in two regional conference presentations. No
published articles came out of this work. The term
gastronationalism has also been used, according to
Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang (Green 2005), to differ-
entiate national identities through insults based on
food preferences. For example, arguments between
the United Kingdom and France over British beef
(and the fear of mad cow disease), after France ille-
gally maintained a ban on imports that the rest of the
EU had lifted three years earlier, led to the increased
use of ‘‘rosbif’’ to denote a British person, parallel to
the way ‘‘frog’’ has been used to insult the French.
2. Accessed via EUR-Lex, which provides free access
to the Official Journal of the European Union.
3. For example, a 30-year battle over the production and
marketing of chocolate began when Britain joined the
EU in 1973; the dispute ended with a 2003 ruling by
the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Eight
EU member states (in particular Spain and Italy) ob-
jected to and restricted the distribution and marketing
of British chocolate within their borders, because
British chocolate is made with up to 5 percent vege-
table fat instead of pure cocoa butter. These objec-
tions were overruled and the restrictions deemed
illegal under the principle of mutual recognition,
entitling British chocolate products open access to
all EU markets (Cidell and Alberts 2006).
4. It was not until August 1996 that the first TSG reg-
istration application (for Italian mozzarella cheese)
was published in the Official Journal. Other TSG
labels are primarily concentrated in Belgium (for
beer) and Sweden and Finland (for processed food
products, such as pies).
5. Since the end of 2007, when my sampling ends,
several applications have been approved, several
hundred more are under review, and some have
been backlogged for more than two years. The
full list of registered products, searchable by prod-
uct type or country, is available at http://ec.europa
6. For example, according to the definition set by the
producers’ consortium, to attain the PDO label for
proscuitto di Parma, or Parma ham, the meat must
be sliced and packaged in the region of production.
This proved controversial; the consortium brought
a suit against a UK grocer and a distributor for slic-
ing the meat themselves and selling it without the
official brand mark on the product or packaging
(see Salumificio v. Asda Stores Ltd & Hygrade
Foods Ltd [European Court of Justice 2003]).
7. Timing of approval does not reflect nationally spe-
cific processes or events. The Commission did not
release a list of the first 320 designation labels until
June 1996, due to large amounts of paperwork and
the fact that many applications required additional
information. Subsequent registrations have simi-
larly been released in groups.
8. For example, Appellation d’Origine Contro
in France, Qualita
¨tatswein mit Pra
¨dikat and
¨tatswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete in
Germany, Denominacxa
˜o de Origem Controlada in
Portugal, and Denominacio
´n de Origen in Spain.
9. Examples of prior multilateral agreements are the
Madrid Agreement of 1891, which included policies
for handling false or deceptive indications of
a good’s source, and the Lisbon Agreement of
1958, which specified protections for appellations
of origin and their international registration.
10. Most of these appellation programs were created for
wine production (Stanziani 2004). Hungary intro-
duced the world’s first vineyard classification system
in 1730,based on sun exposure,soil quality, and poten-
tial to develop fungus. My measure counts onlyappel-
lation systems that came into existence after the
development of the modern European state system.
11. Measuring the importance of food culture to a coun-
try is a tricky conceptual task; few countries have
poor opinions of their food cultures. With unlimited
time and expert resources, one could tally the num-
ber of food scenes or references in each nation’s lit-
erature or film, or comb archives of all 21 national
newspapers for articles related to food.
12. I considered but did not include in my metric other
potential boundary-drawing identifiers that could
reveal the extent to which culinary self-conscious-
ness is a product of tying national culture to percep-
tions of external threats (Erikson 1966). These
include, but are not limited to, issues of ethnic, reli-
gious, and linguistic diversity and immigration pat-
terns, which are beyond the scope of this analysis.
13. is a food news and information
Web site that receives about one million page views
per month and claims to host the most complete
worldwide listing of food festivals.
14. At the low end, several countries listed no festivals;
at the high end, Britain had 52. The mean number of
festivals by country is 6.3 per year.
15. Italy, at 98, had the highest number of books listed.
16. This label has already produced paradoxical results.
Non-Italians recently won the World Pizza
Championships; they produced ‘‘authentic’’ pizza
Napoletana by following the ingredient list and des-
ignation rules (Helstosky 2008). This demonstrates
one reason why TSGs are less sought after protec-
tions than PDO or PGI labels.
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17. Parmigiano-Reggiano is a slow-maturing cheese
made in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern
Italy. There are just over 400 cheese production
houses in the region, which produce about 3 million
cheeses annually. Some mechanization is used in
the process (e.g., mechanical arms turn the cheese
wheels), but it is still considered artisanal. A 1934
decree by the Italian government created the
Consorzio di Parmigiano-Reggiano (for further
information, see de Roest and Menghi [2000]).
18. The Greek government responded unsuccessfully
that the ‘‘feta’’ produced outside of Greece was
manufactured incorrectly because it used cow
milk instead of sheep and goat milk.
19. Israel, one of the larger foie gras producers outside
of France in the 1990s, banned its production in
2002 through a 2 to 1 Supreme Court decision.
The Israeli Supreme Court applied existing anticru-
elty laws to the force-feeding of birds. California,
one of only two states in the United States that pro-
duces foie gras, passed a production ban in 2004
that will go into effect in 2012. The city of
Chicago passed a distribution ban for restaurants
in April 2006, which was repealed in May 2008.
Several other U.S. cities and states have considered
ordinances similar to the Chicago ban, but none
have enacted one.
20. Many EU countries with production bans were
never foie gras producers; this legislation was
mainly symbolic. Foie gras production in Europe
is permitted only in France, Spain, Belgium,
Hungary, and Bulgaria—nations designated in EU
documents as ‘‘traditional zones’’ of production.
21. Until they are brought into gavage, the ducks and
geese are not confined to pens. During gavage, they
are kept in either pens or individual cages (by EU de-
cree, the use of cages will be eliminated in France by
2015). Pens and cages prevent the birds from burning
energy, so theyfatten more easily. Thisprocess is sim-
ilar to confinement practices used in raising most farm
animals eaten today (Pollan 2006).
22. While many animal rights groups use this document
to support their claims, it does not actually condemn
the practice of force-feeding. Instead, it suggests
limiting production to where it was a ‘‘current prac-
tice,’’ eliminating individual cages, and continuing
‘‘scientific study’’ regarding animal welfare stand-
ards and alternative methods of production.
23. This region currently produces about 50 percent of
duck foie gras made in France.
24. Animal rights organizations position foie gras as
a touchstone in debates over farm animal welfare.
French producers are well-aware of recent critiques
that equate their work with animal suffering, and
they insist on their commitment to tradition and to
their animals’ well-being. When asked about inter-
national criticism, many respondents suggested
that anthropomorphism led people to misunderstand
and denigrate the process. Several noted the dispro-
portionate level of outrage regarding foie gras rela-
tive to other problems facing animals and people
alike. One chef I interviewed in Bordeaux went
on a tirade about other countries, especially the
United States, caring about ducks when they
‘‘don’t demonstrate caring about people.’’ I pressed
him, saying that foie gras has opponents within
France, too. He immediately responded, ‘‘Yes, but
America doesn’t have a monopoly on imbeciles.
There are assholes in every country.’’
25. Chefs and producers I interviewed were dismissive
of Stop Gavage, asserting that foie gras is a decid-
edly French food and a national tradition.
26. The foie gras farms that welcome tourists account
for only about 10 percent of France’s total annual
foie gras production. The majority of foie gras
ducks are raised and processed in larger, more
industrial facilities.
27. Notably, the root of the term ‘‘patrimony’’ is patri-,
or father, connoting a gendered relationship to cul-
tural heritage. The nostalgic past evoked by the case
of foie gras includes the role of female family mem-
bers (namely, grandmothers) in national patrimony.
28. I thank one of ASR’s anonymous reviewers for
pointing to this important difference between cui-
sine and individual foods.
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Michaela DeSoucey is a PhD Candidate in the
Department of Sociology at Northwestern University.
Her work uses food as a lens to examine markets as
moral, cultural, and political projects. Her dissertation,
Gullet Politics, explores the controversies surrounding
foie gras in the United States and France and develops
a model of movement-market-state systems as they
work to shape the ecology of social problem construc-
tion and moral claimsmaking around consumption prac-
tices. In fall 2010, she will begin a postdoctoral
fellowship at the Center for the Study of Social
Organization at Princeton University.
DeSoucey 455
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... For these places, particularly in the Global South, dual emphases on the singularities of production regions and on satisfying consumer demands for quality and authenticity (Gaytán, 2014) often mesh with pragmatic struggles to safeguard local environmental and cultural resources (Bowen, 2015) and to capture value in the global market (Centeno et al., 2011). While research on institutionalized place-based branding for food and drink often focuses on the analytical level of the nation (DeSoucey, 2010;Ichijo & Ranta, 2016), fewer analyses scrutinize instances in which these initiatives become loci of regional and transnational contention around claims of authenticity (Ariel, 2012, is an exception). What are the implications of disputes related to products with identities that span geographical borders? ...
... As one of several place-sensitive branding strategies for drawing consumer attention to food and drink production practices, GIs 1 are a popular legal tool for countering the disembedding of specialty products from their places of origin, a common attribute of globalization (DeSoucey, 2010;Huysmans, 2020). In principle, GIs unite communities of producers and consumers by articulating and institutionalizing the valuation of localized food products and practices (European Communities Council, 1992) and by working to invoke singular bonds between particular tastes and the human activities and natural environments that produce them (Beckert et al., 2017;Feinberg, 2020;Grasseni, 2012). ...
... Like those advocating for other GI designations for their food and drink markets around the world (Bowen, 2010;DeSoucey, 2010;Huysmans, 2020), value chain actors in Peru and Chile's pisco industries create and mobilize narratives of authenticity in their efforts to claim the spirit's origins, to tie its production and trajectory to specific regions and communities, and to promote it both domestically and in foreign markets. Actors in each chain see the spirit as a particular distillation of authenticity that both indexes and embodies regional historical and geographical singularities within their borders. ...
Place-centred branding is increasingly perceived as a mode of product differentiation and a rural development strategy that emphasizes the singularities of production regions and methods to meet global market demands for quality and authenticity. We use a global value chain (GVC) analysis to compare the trajectories of Peruvian and Chilean pisco – a distilled spirit like brandy – finding that each country’s efforts to claim its authenticity are grounded in different cultural–economic imperatives as well as vexed historical bilateral relations. Our analysis suggests that antagonism can compromise the authenticity premium. A GVC lens offers important analytic leverage for locating pisco producers’ market strategies as nested within the larger GVC for alcoholic spirits, and we suggest this perspective would benefit from more robust considerations of local–global trade-offs therein.
... Bir ülkenin ulusal mutfağına ilişkin bilinç ve farkındalık düzeyini ölçmek için o ülkenin mutfak kültürünü ulusal kimliğiyle ne ölçüde özdeşleştirdiği, bunun için ne gibi teşvikler kullandığı ve kimliğini dünyaya ne kadar iyi yansıttığı incelenmelidir. Ayrıca ülkede ulusal yemek festivallerinin varlığı, mutfak kimliğine dair sahip oldukları, kitapları ve UNESCO tarafından tanınmış bir mutfak mirasının olup olmadığı, ülkenin gastromilliyetçi kimliğine ne kadar bağlı olduğunu göstermektedir (DeSoucey, 2010;Şahin, 2017). ...
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Birbirinden farklı özellikteki birçok bitkisel kaynaklı besin, lezzeti arttırmak, görselliği zenginleştirmek ve yemeğe hoş kokular katmak amacıyla mutfaklarda kullanılmaktadır. Yenilebilir çiçekler ve mikro filizler, dünden bugüne değişen yemek pişirme yöntemleri ve sunum şekillerine baktığımızda karşımıza çıkan en belirgin ürün gruplarıdır. Son zamanlarda oldukça ilgi gören bu ürünler, pek çok farklı tür ve özelliktedir. Çiçekler uzun yıllardır doğada var olan ve insanlığın yüzyıllardır çeşitli şekillerde faydalandığı tabiat zenginliklerindendir. Çekici renkleri, hoş kokuları, ferahlatan aromaları, estetik görünümleri ve karakteristik özellikleriyle günümüze kadar farklı amaçlarla kullanılmış ve kullanılma-ya devam etmektedir. Bu özellikleriyle çiçekler, genellikle güzellik ve sağlık alanlarında yaygın kullanımıyla ön plana çıkmaktadır. Bu konuda yazılmış kaynaklar incelendiğinde, dünya üzerinde farklı iklim koşulları ve toprak yapısına göre pek çok türde çiçeğin olduğu söylenebilir. İnsanoğlunun varoluşuyla birlikte farklı türdeki çiçeklerin çeşitli amaçlarla kullanıldığı bilinmektedir. Farklı çiçek türlerinin bu çok yönlü kullanımının insanların beslenme hayatına girmesi uzun zaman almıştır. Çiçeklerin ve diğer yenilebilir aromatik otların mutfaklara girişi yakın tarihe dayanmakta olup, çeşitli yiyecek ve içeceklerde kullanımının başlaması ile günümüze kadar taşınmıştır.
... Bir ülkenin ulusal mutfağına ilişkin bilinç ve farkındalık düzeyini ölçmek için o ülkenin mutfak kültürünü ulusal kimliğiyle ne ölçüde özdeşleştirdiği, bunun için ne gibi teşvikler kullandığı ve kimliğini dünyaya ne kadar iyi yansıttığı incelenmelidir. Ayrıca ülkede ulusal yemek festivallerinin varlığı, mutfak kimliğine dair sahip oldukları, kitapları ve UNESCO tarafından tanınmış bir mutfak mirasının olup olmadığı, ülkenin gastromilliyetçi kimliğine ne kadar bağlı olduğunu göstermektedir (DeSoucey, 2010;Şahin, 2017). ...
Full-text available
Gastronomi kavramının bilim ve turizm anlamında ivmeli gelişimi, uluslararası kültürel etkileşimi de olumlu yönde etkilemektedir. Bu kültürel etkileşim, beraberinde markalaşma ihtiyacını doğurmuş ve ülkeler yemek kültürlerindeki değerli gıda ürünlerini imajları haline dönüştürmüştür. Bu imaj sayesinde ülkeler diğer ülke insanlarını etkileyerek mutfaklarını pazarlayabilmiş ve kültürler arası bir bağ kurabilme imkânı yakalamıştır. Yemeğin temsil gücü ve kültürü yansıtması ile ulusal mutfaklar ve yemek kültürüne olan bağlılık artmıştır. (Bucak ve Yiğit, 2019). Böylelikle “gastrodiplomasi” kavramı zaman içinde ortaya çıkmaya başlamıştır. Yeme içme alışkanlıkları, yemek ve mutfak gelenekleri, milli marşlar ve bayraklar gibi milli kimliği sembolize etmektedir. Milli kimlik, vatandaşları ortak duygular etrafında birleştirmektedir. Sembolik güç ve kültürel kimlik çıkarımları söz konusu olduğunda, yemek de bir istisna değildir. Yemek, sosyal aktörler ile kültürel geçmişleri, ortak ailesel ve dini kimlik bağları ile toplumsal kimlik anlatıları arasında bağlantılar kurmaktadır. Milli duygular ile ulusa ait mutfak kültürünün korunarak güçlendirilmesini amaç edinen çalışmalar “gastromilliyetçilik” ya da “mutfak milliyetçiliği” olarak karşımıza çıkmaktadır (DeSoucey, 2010). Gastromilliyetçilik ve gastrodiplomasi kavramlarının birlikte incelenmesinin temelindeki ana sebep, her iki kavramın da benzer amaçlara hizmet etmesidir. Uluslara ait mutfak kültürlerinin korunarak gelecek nesillere eksiksiz aktarılması, her çağda eski esintilerini kaybetmeden yaşatılması ve kültürel bir değer olarak markalaşması ile çekim unsuru haline getirilmesi de bahsi geçen bu ortak amaçlar arasındadır (Bucak ve Yiğit, 2019).
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Keywords: Cultural Heritage Heritage food Egyptian Bedouins Bedouin food Food heritage Despite the issue of food heritage having an important debate around the globe, there is still inconclusive literature addressing Egyptian heritage food in general, and particularly the gastronomic heritage of Egyptian Bedouins. The main argument of the current study is firstly to identify a set of genuine heritage foods of Egyptian Bedouins by using explicit criteria. Then, transfer the data to develop a documented recipe book for these meals, which is intended to be an initial phase of promoting them as a unique component of the Egyptian cultural legacy. The target population of the study is the Egyptian Bedouin society, both in the western and eastern deserts. Through a qualitative approach, 15 semi-structured interviews with elderly local people were undertaken before conducting a focus group with six Bedouin experts. The findings section reported eight heritage foods of Egyptian Bedouins and produced a recipe book for them. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This dissertation presents a multispecies ethnography that explores the relationships among agaves, bats and humans in the border region shared by Sonora, Mexico and Arizona, USA. The work follows the lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae); Agave angustifolia, which is the species of agave used to make bacanora; and the human stakeholders who have become increasingly entangled in these bat-agave relationships. This ethnography de-centers the human actor bringing bats and agaves into the center of the story to provide alternative ways to understand human relationships with other species. In doing so, the ethnography challenges dominant assumptions about the human-nature divide. The first part of the dissertation explores these bat-agave-human relationships more generally. Part two takes a closer look at how the bacanora industry, along with binational conservation efforts, are shaping these human-nonhuman entanglements in the Sonora-Arizona borderlands. Nectar-feeding bats and agaves have co-evolved for millions of years. Lesser long-nosed bats forage for agave nectar, passing pollen from plant to plant, during their migration from southern Mexico to southern Arizona. This mutualistic relationship is threatened by habitat loss and climate change. Additionally, the growing bacanora industry in the state of Sonora is now one of the primary threats to the agave-bat relationship. Bacanora is a type of mezcal originating from the mountains in eastern Sonora. It is a culturally significant beverage that supports local livelihoods in the most marginalized region of the state. As demand for the agave distillate grows, wild agave stocks are disappearing at an unsustainable rate due to overharvesting. This multispecies ethnography follows the entanglements of the lesser long-nosed bat, Agave angustifolia and several human stakeholder groups—bacanora producers, the bacanora regulatory council and binational conservation organizations—at this time of rapid change. Qualitative data gathered from the Sonora-Arizona borderlands provides a depth and richness to these interspecies interlinkages at the local level. Participant observation and semi-structured interviews yield a diversity of stories that illustrate the complexity of changing interspecies connections within a transboundary region. This ethnographic illustration of bat-agave-human entanglements intentionally avoids oversimplified, reductionist interpretations, offering instead a valuable, nuanced understanding of these multispecies relationships that may help local stakeholders and policy makers on both sides of the border consider equitable and sustainable policy relating to the bacanora industry and conservation efforts.
The 21st century rise of culturally omnivorous tastes and classifications proffers a new dilemma for how markets create attachments and achieve trust for global consumers. Consumer entities must be both globally circulatable and offer a sense of localized authenticity without compromising either. Drawing from research on market trust and attachment, this article introduces the concept of mobile trust regimes to account for how sets of actors and repertoires attempt to address this tension. Through two case studies from gastronomic industries—food halls and natural wine—we investigate the devices of mobility used to facilitate the global circulation of the local. These include standardized aesthetic and affective templates communicated through physical décor, recurrent narratives, and social media curation. We argue that the concept of mobile trust regimes helps clarify two key issues in contemporary consumer culture: tensions between homogenization and heterogenization and how the symbolic value of omnivorous tastes becomes institutionalized and even banal.
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Durch die globale Organisation von Lebensmittelwarenketten steht Konsument*innen heute ein vielfältiges, ganzjährig nahezu gleichbleibendes Angebot an frischem Obst und Gemüse im Lebensmitteleinzelhandel zur Verfügung. Damit einher geht eine erhöhte Komplexität beim Lebensmitteleinkauf und ein verändertes Wissen von Konsument*innen, über die Waren: Das eigene Erfahren der Lebensmittelproduktion ist im Alltag heute nicht mehr möglich. Statt praktischem Wissen gewinnt damit explizites und objektiviertes Wissen über die Waren, z.B. in Form von Siegeln an Bedeutung. Viele Produkt- und Produktionseigenschaften entziehen sich zudem der Kenntnis der Konsument*innen, während gleichzeitig das Bewusstsein für Fragen sozialer und ökologischer Nachhaltigkeit steigt. Die vorliegende Studie geht vor diesem Hintergrund am Beispiel des Einkaufs von frischem Obst und Gemüse der Frage nach, welche Bedeutung die Herkunftsangabe als Hinweis auf die Geographien der Waren für die Bewertung von frischem Obst und Gemüse hat und welches Wissen Konsument*innen über Waren und deren Biographien haben. Es wird zudem aufgezeigt, welche Rolle Nichtwissen beim Lebensmittelkonsum spielt. Die Studie liefert Erkenntnisse für die bislang im deutschsprachigen Raum noch vergleichsweise wenig repräsentierte Konsumgeographie und macht Konzepte aus der Wissens- und Organisationssoziologie für die wirtschaftsgeographische Forschung fruchtbar. Aus einer Praxisperspektive bietet sie Anschlusspunkte für Fragen des nachhaltigen Konsums sowie des Verbraucherschutzes.
Begun in 2000, China’s Great Western Development Campaign (GWDC) sought to reinforce party-state legitimation narratives by extending economic development to peripheral regions often populated by ethnic minorities. In extending aid to minority communities, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) promoted narratives about its own provision of stability and prosperity, and endeavored to exert further control over the conduct of ethnic politics. However, while this subsidization of development in minority communities produced macro-level success, it also contributed to fragmentation of ethnic identity and perpetuation of instability in daily interactions. In this article, I examine the CCP’s attempt to subsidize the creation of a branded ethnic economy around the production of handmade noodles (lamian) in ethnic Hui communities in rural Qinghai Province. I argue that while the state’s investment in lamian did increase income in Hui communities, the migration that accompanied this developmental aid led to increased contestation of the boundaries of Hui identity and contributed to marginalization and alienation of the Hui migrants involved. I argue that these consequences stemming from the funding of the lamian economy allow the CCP to effect greater control through channeling measures. However, such measures also illuminate the limitations of performance-based legitimation strategies which justify the implementation of ever-increasing measures of control that risk overreach.
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This paper aims to explore how under authoritarian regimes, undergoing reform processes, divergent forms of environmental activism may emerge. Two severe cases of environmental degradation serve as our starting points: the marine disaster in the central coast of Vietnam in 2016 and the Mekong Delta's ongoing environmental degradation. While the former offers a case of rural grievances over mass fish death in Central Vietnam triggering protests on a national scale, the latter presents a continuum of environmental changes leading to serious impacts on deltaic livelihoods, albeit with no observable efforts of activism compared to the situation in other countries along the Mekong Delta. Drawing from in-depth interviews and participant observation with NGO workers in Vietnam who focus on environment and community development, we unravel the conditions, methods and rationalities behind their engagement (or lack thereof) with environmental activism in each case. We argue that the difference between the cases can be explained by tracing the process of politicising environmental grievances, taking into consideration culinary nationalism, anti-China nationalism and political opportunities under authoritarianism. Moving beyond current literature on activism under authoritarian regimes which relies mainly on institutional and/or social network approaches, our analysis helps further shed light on how contemporary environmental activism is mobilised in Vietnam from a geographically and politically grounded as well as culturally embedded position.
'Imagined Communities' examines the creation & function of the 'imagined communities' of nationality & the way these communities were in part created by the growth of the nation-state, the interaction between capitalism & printing & the birth of vernacular languages in early modern Europe.
Kitchens takes us into the robust, overheated, backstage world of the contemporary restaurant. In this rich, often surprising portrait of the real lives of kitchen workers, Gary Alan Fine brings their experiences, challenges, and satisfactions to colorful life. A new preface updates this riveting exploration of how restaurants actually work, both individually and as part of a larger culinary culture.