Shopping and cooking: the organization of food practices, at the crossing of access to food stores and household properties in France
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This paper explores different ways of organizing food practices in shopping, cooking, and managing leftovers and shows how these relate to sustainability. We conducted an ethnographic study in France based on in-depth and repeated interviews with around 30 ‘ordinary’ consumers aged between 30 and 87 years. We analyzed the interviews using a practice–theory approach and distinguished meanings, materials, and skills linked to food products and eating. We identify four patterns of everyday food practices, each coherently linking specific ways of provisioning, storing, cooking, waste sorting, and other practices. We show how households adopt patterns according to their social characteristics and place of residence and how they switch from one pattern to another according to circumstances. Each pattern comprises some sustainable practices, although not always at the same level. We highlight not only the role of material infrastructure in framing access to food products, but also the necessity to consider temporal organization, financial resources, household size, and social position to understand food practices. Food practices also differ according to definitions of proper eating, which may vary in the long run according to life course events, and in the short run according to the context of meals. We conclude by discussing different ways to promote more sustainable eating.
KeywordsEnvironmental concerns Food consumption France Practice theory Sustainability Food patterns
We would like to thank Ana Perrin-Heredia who conducted the interviews, and Sophie Dubuisson-Quellier, Anne Lhuissier, and Marie Plessz for helpful comments on a previous draft of this paper. We are very grateful to the two anonymous reviewers who helped us revise the manuscript by their constructive remarks.
The research was funded by the French Environment and Energy Management Agency, Ademe (Grant Dimensions Durables de l’Alimentation Domestique No 1110C003) and by the French Ministry for Economy, Environment and Sustainable Development (Grant 13-MUTS-MOVIDA-6-CVS-019 2013-No CHORUS).
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