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The Food Label as Governance Space: Free-Range Eggs and the Fallacy of Consumer Choice

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Document pages: 33 pages

Abstract: In a neoliberal age governments, NGOs, food producers and retailers all state that the food system can be governed via consumer choice aka voting with your fork. This makes the retail food label an important space for contests between different actors who each seek to govern the food system according to their own interests and priorities. The paper argues that this makes it crucial to “backwards map” the regulatory governance networks behind the governance claims staked on food labels. The paper uses the example of the contested meaning of “free-range” claims on animal products in Australia to propose and illustrate a methodology for this backwards mapping.

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