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Why sustainable and ‘nutritionally correct’ food is not on the agenda: Western Sydney, the moral arts of everyday life and public policy

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  • Dixon, Jane
  • Isaacs, Bronwyn

Abstract

Within a context of delivering food security into the future, dietary guidelines are being reframed, corporations are replacing unsustainable products, and consumers are being encouraged to become ecological citizens. While there is a growing literature on the food practices of ‘alternative’ consumers, ‘mainstream’ consumers are less well understood. This paper describes qualitative research undertaken in a socio-economically disadvantaged area of Sydney, Australia, which aimed to uncover consumer views towards sustainable and healthy diets. Most participants indicated a discrepancy between their desired and actual behaviours: while they want to support Australian, or local, food producers they gravitate towards cheap and tasty food from ‘anywhere’; and while they associate nutritious food with fresh food, they will buy processed foods which can be less expensive, appeal to children and are prone to less waste. Reflecting mainstream Australian political culture, participants were compromising household food budgets in order to pursue a socially acceptable standard of living (including decent housing, car-reliance). They were also incorporating the pleasure and desires of family members as part of ‘the moral arts of everyday life’. Using social theories of consumption and practice sociology we argue that food choices and practices – easy or not – need to be interpreted as part of the role that consumption plays in political citizenship and moral subjectivity. In the Western Sydney context, food practices are essentially household budget and family nourishment practices rather than nutrition and sustainability practices; a position which is not addressed in the government’s new food policies or wage determination processes.

Suggested Citation

  • Dixon, Jane & Isaacs, Bronwyn, 2013. "Why sustainable and ‘nutritionally correct’ food is not on the agenda: Western Sydney, the moral arts of everyday life and public policy," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 67-76.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:43:y:2013:i:c:p:67-76
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2013.08.010
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Per Pinstrup-Andersen, 2009. "Food security: definition and measurement," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 1(1), pages 5-7, February.
    2. David Burch & Jane Dixon & Geoffrey Lawrence, 2013. "Introduction to symposium on the changing role of supermarkets in global supply chains: from seedling to supermarket: agri-food supply chains in transition," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 30(2), pages 215-224, June.
    3. Kevin Morgan & Roberta Sonnino, 2010. "The urban foodscape: world cities and the new food equation," Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, Cambridge Political Economy Society, vol. 3(2), pages 209-224.
    4. Jane Dixon & Bronwyn Isaacs, 2013. "There’s certainly a lot of hurting out there: navigating the trolley of progress down the supermarket aisle," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 30(2), pages 283-297, June.
    5. Jarkko Jääskelä & Callan Windsor, 2011. "Insights from the Household Expenditure Survey," RBA Bulletin, Reserve Bank of Australia, pages 1-12, December.
    6. Gert Spaargaren & Peter Oosterveer, 2010. "Citizen-Consumers as Agents of Change in Globalizing Modernity: The Case of Sustainable Consumption," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(7), pages 1-22, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Reynolds, Christian John & Piantadosi, Julia & Buckley, Jonathan David & Weinstein, Philip & Boland, John, 2015. "Evaluation of the environmental impact of weekly food consumption in different socio-economic households in Australia using environmentally extended input–output analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 58-64.
    2. Bradley Ridoutt & Danielle Baird & Kathryn Bastiaans & Ross Darnell & Gilly Hendrie & Malcolm Riley & Peerasak Sanguansri & Julie Syrette & Manny Noakes & Brian Keating, 2017. "Australia’s nutritional food balance: situation, outlook and policy implications," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 9(2), pages 211-226, April.
    3. Hadjikakou, Michalis, 2017. "Trimming the excess: environmental impacts of discretionary food consumption in Australia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 119-128.

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