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The commoditization of products and taste: Slow Food and the conservation of agrobiodiversity

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  • Ariane Lotti

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Abstract

Slow Food is an Italy-based international organization that aims to save the varieties, breeds, and foods threatened by the standardization and homogenization of agriculture resulting from the widespread use of conventional practices. Through an analysis of one of Slow Food’s projects, a Basque Presidium, this paper examines the effects of Slow Food’s efforts on the products, producers, and agrobiodiversity it is trying to save. Drawing upon Igor Kopytoff’s descriptions of commoditization as process, this paper argues that the products and the values they embody, which Slow Food has identified for their singularity, are commoditized through a variety of mechanisms. This paper then argues that commoditization makes the endeavors of Slow Food resemble the conventional agricultural system it is trying to oppose, as well as undermining the very agrobiodiversity the organization seeks to protect. These effects create a disconnect between the organization’s goals and its actions on-the-ground, indicating that Slow Food is not as alternative as it claims to be. This paper ends by examining Slow Food’s role within the overall agricultural system, and suggests that the organization’s producers are important guardians of the global agrobiodiversity which conventional production erodes. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Suggested Citation

  • Ariane Lotti, 2010. "The commoditization of products and taste: Slow Food and the conservation of agrobiodiversity," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 27(1), pages 71-83, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:27:y:2010:i:1:p:71-83
    DOI: 10.1007/s10460-009-9213-x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David Lind & Elizabeth Barham, 2004. "The social life of the tortilla: Food, cultural politics, and contested commodification," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 21(1), pages 47-60, March.
    2. Bruce Pietrykowski, 2004. "You Are What You Eat: The Social Economy of the Slow Food Movement," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 62(3), pages 307-321.
    3. Roberta Sonnino & Terry Marsden, 2006. "Beyond the divide: rethinking relationships between alternative and conventional food networks in Europe," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 181-199, April.
    4. Karen Klonsky, 2000. "Forces impacting the production of organic foods," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 17(3), pages 233-243, September.
    5. Patricia Allen & Martin Kovach, 2000. "The capitalist composition of organic: The potential of markets in fulfilling the promise of organic agriculture," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 17(3), pages 221-232, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Justin Myers, 2013. "The logic of the gift: the possibilities and limitations of Carlo Petrini’s slow food alternative," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 30(3), pages 405-415, September.
    2. Anna Krzywoszynska, 2015. "Wine is not Coca-Cola: marketization and taste in alternative food networks," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 32(3), pages 491-503, September.
    3. Lydia Zepeda & Anna Reznickova, 2017. "Innovative millennial snails: the story of Slow Food University of Wisconsin," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 34(1), pages 167-178, March.

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