The American Omnivore’s Dilemma: Who Constructs “Organic” Food?


The American Omnivore’s Dilemma: Who Constructs “Organic” Food? by Janet Chrzana

Published in: Food and Foodways, Volume 18, Issue 1 & 2 January 2010 , pages 81 – 95


In the process of starting a farmers market I have been confronted with many differing ideas about organic and sustainable food, from sources as varied as farmers and regulatory agencies to consumers and market volunteers. Each person seems to have a completely different working concept of organic food, how it is grown and what it means for personal and public health. Furthermore, the word “organic,” as popularly constituted, has absorbed many meanings which aren’t strictly related to the process of creating organic goods or even the regulatory characterizations of the word-as-label. This is a first attempt to grapple with my experiences arising from the establishment of the farmers market working with farmers, farm advocacy groups, local regulators, and consumers and my observations of the often-contradictory perspectives of the various groups interested in the production and consumption of organic foods. Additionally, I provide a brief summary of some of the areas of food practice and belief surrounding organic food use that may provide anthropologists with fertile areas for further research. Click here for text:

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