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Risking the rural: nature, morality and the consumption of unpasteurised milk

Enticott, Gareth ORCID: 2003. Risking the rural: nature, morality and the consumption of unpasteurised milk. Journal of Rural Studies 19 (4) , pp. 411-424. 10.1016/S0743-0167(03)00023-8

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The BSE crisis, concern over genetically modified foods, and E. coli and Salmonella food scares have prompted widespread public disquiet over food safety. For consumers, this has led to a demand for new ‘safer’ foods which are usually ‘local’, ‘natural’ and/or organic. Research into reactions to food risk has to a large degree focussed on this ‘quality turn’. In doing so, there is a danger of failing to fully problematise risk and providing a dualistic appreciation of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ natures, rather than exposing nature's fluid and multiple identities. Moreover, it suggests that consumers always attempt to minimise risk and do not challenge the need to change their behaviour. Instead, drawing on ethnographic fieldwork from an English village, the paper uses a case study of unpasteurised milk to analyse why rural consumers continue to buy foods labelled by official scientific discourses as ‘risky’. The paper argues that food risks in rural areas are configured by a concern to protect a rural identity from one implicated in scientific discourses of safety. These identity-related definitions of risk are also constructed by various moral behaviours which are integral to the process of becoming rural. In particular, the paper shows that these moral behaviours include establishing relations with specific forms of nature, maintaining community relations and adopting rural knowledgeabilities which together configure food safety and define rural status.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0743-0167
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2022 09:10

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