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Ethical Eating in the Postsocialist and Socialist World

Ethical Eating in the Postsocialist and Socialist World

Yuson Jung
Jakob A. Klein
Melissa L. Caldwell
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Ethical Eating in the Postsocialist and Socialist World
    Book Description:

    Current discussions of the ethics around alternative food movements--concepts such as "local," "organic," and "fair trade"--tend to focus on their growth and significance in advanced capitalist societies. In this groundbreaking contribution to critical food studies, editors Yuson Jung, Jakob A. Klein, and Melissa L. Caldwell explore what constitutes "ethical food" and "ethical eating" in socialist and formerly socialist societies. With essays by anthropologists, sociologists, and geographers, this politically nuanced volume offers insight into the origins of alternative food movements and their place in today's global economy. Collectively, the essays cover discourses on food and morality; the material and social practices surrounding production, trade, and consumption; and the political and economic power of social movements in Bulgaria, China, Cuba, Lithuania, Russia, and Vietnam. Scholars and students will gain important historical and anthropological perspective on how the dynamics of state-market-citizen relations continue to shape the ethical and moral frameworks guiding food practices around the world.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95814-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Yuson Jung, Jakob A. Klein and Melissa L. Caldwell
  4. INTRODUCTION: Ethical Eating and (Post)socialist Alternatives
    (pp. 1-24)

    In spring 2013, alternative food activists and their supporters took to the streets around the world to protest against GM (genetically modified) foods and Monsanto, arguably one of the most visible symbols behind the spread of genetically modified seeds. Organizers claimed that more than two million people throughout the world, but primarily in Western capitalist countries in North America and Western Europe, participated in the demonstrations, although the figure was not necessarily verified by independent media. In market socialist (or “reform socialist,” Hann and Hart 2011: 137–39) and postsocialist countries, the response seemed to be much more muted, with...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Homogenizing Europe: Raw Milk, Risk Politics, and Moral Economies in Europeanizing Lithuania
    (pp. 25-43)

    In July 2009, something quite unusual began to appear in the lobbies of Lithuania’s largest supermarket stores—colorful raw milk vending machines that dispensed milk that had been delivered to the supermarkets directly from the farm. The lines of customers at these machines were long but moved quickly as plastic bottles were rapidly filled with milk, a process that was accompanied by the sounds of whistling and popping of plastic caps in the frosty, vacuum-tight chamber of the vending machine. As many of the consumers I interviewed noted, the raw milk coming from the vending machine was the purest and...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Moral Significance of Food in Reform-Era Rural China
    (pp. 44-68)

    In discussions of the food system of contemporary China, many analysts have focused on the rise of fast foods and agribusiness, and the dominance of petrochemicals in agriculture.¹ These developments raise questions for China, as they have elsewhere, about how chemical agricultural inputs, and fast and processed foods, will affect human health and the environment. But, in addition to the environmental and health effects of moving to an industrialized food system, how will these changes transform the role and meaning of food in Chinese culture? Scholars such as Sidney Mintz have long pointed out that “modernity” in food systems—that...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Placing Alternative Food Networks: Farmers’ Markets in Post-Soviet Vilnius, Lithuania
    (pp. 69-92)

    Farmers’ markets have experienced growing popularity in Europe and North America in recent years, in many ways becoming emblematic of new trends to foster alternatives to industrially produced, processed, and marketed food. Activists and scholars alike imagine farmers’ markets as ideal places for reconnection in a system that has historically produced greater and more sophisticated degrees of disconnection between producers and consumers of food. Farmers’ markets serve as meeting points for “alternative” food networks, supply chains that circumvent conventional modes of distribution and that often operate under an alternative logic (Watts et al. 2005). Markets are also places with their...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Ambivalent Consumers and the Limits of Certification: Organic Foods in Postsocialist Bulgaria
    (pp. 93-115)

    In the summer of 2012, I accompanied an old friend to a large and crowded supermarket in the basement of a new shopping mall in Sofia, Bulgaria. The supermarket was owned by a French corporation specializing in wholesale goods, and it had a large section devoted to organic products. This was marked by green-colored shelves and signs hanging from the ceiling displaying“bio”in Latin letters as well as in Cyrillic. Noting the difference from previous years where one could only find a small section for organic products in select supermarkets across the city, I asked my friend whether organics...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Connecting with the Countryside? “Alternative” Food Movements with Chinese Characteristics
    (pp. 116-143)

    In March 2012 a friend took me for a meal atThe Earthbound Restaurant(Tusheng Shiguan). Opened the previous month in a former factory building on the outskirts of downtown Kunming, the restaurant reminded me of many of the other country-style eating places that were popular in the Yunnanese provincial capital. It served country fare typical of this part of Southwest China, including potatoes with pickled cabbage (suancai yangyu), red-cooked pork (hongshaorou), stewed chicken (huangmenji), bacon (larou), fermented tofu (lufu), and distilled maize liquor (baogujiu). Ordering was done from the kitchen as there were no menus, and dried chilies and folksy...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Vegetarian Ethics and Politics in Late-Socialist Vietnam
    (pp. 144-166)

    In 2000, there were only three vegetarian restaurants (com chay) in the small town of Hoi An in central Vietnam. One tiny restaurant was located in a narrow back-alley in the ancient quarter (pho co), another was a makeshift shed situated by one of the town’s main thoroughfares, and the third was located at a crossroad on the town’s outskirts. There was also a stand in the ancient quarter that served vegetarian versions of the town’s local noodles for breakfast. These were unassuming food venues that sold what was probably the cheapest fare in town: a plate of rice, topped...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Agroecology and the Cuban Nation
    (pp. 167-187)

    I first met Eduardo, a small-scale Cuban farmer orparcelero,in 2004.¹ The meeting was organized by agronomists from the Agrarian University of Havana who told me that Eduardo and his family were famous in Cuba for informing the nation about agroecological production. Eduardo described himself in this way: “I am known all over Cuba as someone one can call to get knowledge and help for their planting . . . . This [farm] is a place of learning.” Eduardo’s national fame not only opened up access to inputs and knowledge from state institutions such as the nearby agricultural university,...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Gardening for the State: Cultivating Bionational Citizens in Postsocialist Russia
    (pp. 188-210)

    While the impact of Russia’s rapidly growing car culture is evident both in the heavy traffic and gridlock that now clogs the country’s roadways and in the environmental pollution from car exhaust that hangs in the air, it also appears in the country’s food supply. Transit has become the medium by which domestic and foreign foods circulate through Russia, as enhanced transportation routes and expansions in the commercial trucking industry have encouraged the importation and distribution of raw foodstuffs and manufactured food products from Russia’s regions and foreign markets throughout the country. At the same time, vehicular transportation has transformed...

  13. AFTERWORD: Ethical Food Systems: Between Suspicion and Hope
    (pp. 211-216)

    In the autumn of 2002, Peter Rossett delivered a paper entitled “Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba” in the Program in Agrarian Studies Colloquium at Yale University.¹ As a resident fellow of the program, I was asked to serve as commentator on the paper. Rossett argued that the United States’ embargo on Cuba and the attendant shortage of agricultural inputs had, ironically, allowed Cuba to develop a viable alternative to contemporary industrial agriculture—one characterized by greater numbers of people growing food on smaller plots of land closer to where it would be consumed, by the widespread...

    (pp. 217-220)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 221-224)