Emily Gullickson ‘10: Gastronomic Hierarchies of Value: A Case Study of the Market for French AOC Wines

Discuss this project in MiddLab
Session: The Global Market- MBH 216 at 5:20 p.m. from the Undergraduate Research Spring Symposium
Faculty Sponsor: Thierry Warin, International Studies; Linus Owens, Sociology & Anthropology
Major: International Studies

The business model of the food industry, as it stands today, is unsustainable. Dominated by fast food and international agribusinesses, the industry increasingly wreaks havoc on traditional agricultural processes, nutrition, and the distance between producer and consumer. To counter these negative trends, organizations like Slow Food International have begun to champion the importance of “quality” for health, the environment, and the art of gastronomy. But what does quality mean and what will be its impact on the global food industry? An analysis of wines produced in France and labeled with the government-sponsored quality certification system, Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, reveals that an emphasis on quality and geography, rather than brand, makes the food market more monopolistically competitive, more inclusive yet hierarchical. Furthermore, quality changes the values of the food industry from efficiency and low-prices to diversity and people’s fundamental right food that is “good, clean and fair.”

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