Kosher in New York City, halal in Aquitaine: challenging the relationship between neoliberalism and food auditing
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Previous work in the agri-food tradition has framed food auditing as a novelty characteristic of a shift to neoliberal governance in agri-food systems and has tackled the analysis of food “quality” in the same light. This article argues that agri-food scholars’ recent interest in the contested qualities of food needs to be situated alongside a much longer history of contested cultural attributions of trust in food relations. It builds on an earlier discussion suggesting that, although neoliberalism has undoubtedly opened up new spaces for audit activity, older political and social dynamics operating around food audits were established long before the neoliberal historical moment. Breaking new ground (as far as is known) by looking further back than the early history of the organic social movement, it examines intersections of religious food auditing, migrant food culture, and commercial dynamics in food systems. Based on secondary sources, two contrasting case studies are presented to illustrate the flux and complexity for: New World Diaspora migrants to New York City of assuring food was kosher; and more recent Maghrebi migrants to southwest France of assuring food is halal. The article concludes by noting that the neoliberal moment stands not as the unique progenitor of a new style of food authority, but rather as the latest response to a wider rupture in the historically contingent arbitration of new forms of trust in food.
KeywordsAgri-food systems Food audit Halal Kosher Quality Governance Trust
The authors would like to thank Richard Le Heron for his dialogue on a precursor paper to this article as well as the comments of two anonymous reviewers.
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