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THE GEOGRAPHY OF ORGANIC FOOD: CONFRONTING COMPLEXITY AT LOCAL AND GLOBAL SCALES

Concepcion, JC (2015) THE GEOGRAPHY OF ORGANIC FOOD: CONFRONTING COMPLEXITY AT LOCAL AND GLOBAL SCALES. MPhil thesis, University of York.

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24.07.2015 MPhil J. Concepcion.pdf
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Abstract

The development of the EU agri-food system has been driven by modernization and industrialization of food production, processing and distribution, the standardization of the food supply and the globalization of food markets, but also by consumer demand for quality food linked to different strategies in order to valorize local and/or regional food products. The primary aim of this thesis was to evaluate the interaction between producers, consumers and main organic standards, as drivers of the organic food geography at local and global scales, using organic certification as the underpinning theme. The approach taken adopts some of the core elements of quality conventions theory in order to understand at the global scale the quality conventions that establish “orders of worth.” These orders of worth are subjected to a reality test through a rigorous evaluation of EU-US equivalence agreements with respect to organic standards and their possible implications for the local scale. At a local level, the research focused on “socially constructed criteria” from the communication between farmers and consumers that support “trust in organic farmers” as well as the market strategies used by organic producers for addressing consumer expectation on the quality of food produced. At the global level, it seems that in this reconfiguration of the global space there are forces, probably from corporate interests, that are being imposed over the technical process of equivalence, as revealed by the fact that the USDA and the EU organic regulations are not equivalent at all. The research concludes that equivalence agreements could facilitate market access for exporters, but not necessarily guarantee genuine organic quality to consumers. At a local level, I found a lack of effective ‘connection’ between producers and consumers for organic beef in Spain. The failure to develop and maintain this direct connection means that the producer does not receive consumer feedback on the meat attributes which consumers most appreciate. For producers such feedback could provide them with very important information such as locality, price, taste, and freshness that play an important role in the distinctiveness of organic over conventional products. My research revealed an urgent need to reconfigure this relationship, as building a trustworthy relationship with consumers is essential not only for conducting business but for the development and maintenance of an efficient and sustainable organic food network.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Academic Units: The University of York > Environment (York)
Depositing User: Jesus JC Concepcion
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2015 11:19
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2016 00:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9514

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