Eating 'green': motivations behind organic food consumption in Australia

Lockie, Stewart, Lyons, Kristen, Lawrence, Geoffrey, and Mummery, Kerry (2002) Eating 'green': motivations behind organic food consumption in Australia. Sociologia Ruralis, 42 (1). pp. 23-40.

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Central to the development of green lifestyles is the consumption of foods that by dint of their status as chemical–free, locally produced and/or free of genetically modified ingredients, reduce the environmental impact of food provision. Yet there are many other factors, such as health concerns, that may also encourage the consumption of 'green' foods. This paper explores the ways in which Australian consumers construct organic food — a sector of the food industry that is currently growing at between 20 and 50 percent per annum but is struggling to keep up with rising consumer demand. In order to examine the significance of 'green' signifiers in the consumption practices of Australian consumers a series of focus group interviews and a national consumer survey were conducted. These examined both those characteristics of food that were valued in general, and those meanings that were associated with organic food in particular. In very general terms, analysis reveals that while consumers believed organic foods to be healthy and environmentally sound — both of which were considered desirable — these characteristics were subsumed by an overarching concern with convenience. This does not mean that consumers did not hold genuinely positive environmental attitudes. Rather, it reflects a range of contradictory beliefs and practices that appeared to derive from the discursive conflict between conventional and organic food industries over environmental, health and safety claims. The paper concludes by identifying the barriers and opportunities for expanding the organic industry in Australia in the context of the ways organics is constructed by consumers.

Item ID: 30818
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1467-9523
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2016 05:36
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160801 Applied Sociology, Program Evaluation and Social Impact Assessment @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160802 Environmental Sociology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920411 Nutrition @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960702 Consumption Patterns, Population Issues and the Environment @ 50%
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