Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 515–527 | Cite as

Traditional beneficiaries: trade bans, exemptions, and morality embodied in diets

  • Kristie O’Neill


Research on the nutrition transition often treats dietary changes as an outcome of increased trade and urban living. The Northern Food Crisis presents a puzzle since it involves hunger and changing diets, but coincides with a European ban on trade in seal products. I look to insights from economic sociology and decolonizing scholarship to make sense of the ban on seal products and its impacts. I examine how trade arrangements enact power imbalances in ways that are not always obvious. I explain how the ban’s exemption for Inuit-produced seal goods explicitly aims to protect Inuit from the harshness of capitalism and preserve their traditions. In this respect, the Northern Food Crisis is an embodiment of European visions of who Inuit are expected to be and how they are supposed to act in the global economy.


Food Trade Nutrition transition Economic sociology Seal 



European Union


Members of European Parliament


World Trade Organization



I am grateful to James Braun, Dr. Josée Johnston, Dr. Mustafa Koç, Dr. Harvey James and three anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback. I am also grateful to supportive audiences at the 2015 CAFS annual conference, the 2015 AFHVS/ASFS annual conference, and the Animals and Society section at the 2016 ASA conference.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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