Supermarket shopping is so ordinary, and so much part of day-to-day life that we are prone to forget the importance of its cultural salience. This thesis looks at shopping for meat and other animal-based foods from the perspective usually missing in consumption and food studies, being that of the frontline actors themselves, the supermarket shoppers (Koch, 2012: 105). This qualitative study looks at thirty-eight supermarkets across urban Sydney and the regional city of Nowra, where I talked to staff, managers, security personnel, and shoppers. I recruited twenty-four participants from various educational, religious, gender and cultural backgrounds and locations.
The thesis examines omnivorousness, and how the habitualisation of eating meat translates into the supermarket shopping experience. It also looks at the tensions and complexities that are emerging around omnivorousness and the meat that is for sale in supermarkets. Remembrance of foodways, and how they inform culinary and cultural capital is a key element that threads its way throughout the thesis. The predominance of female shoppers is a thread that emerged during observational field trips to supermarkets. I became aware that women still fill the role of the household’s primary shopper and carer. The prevalence of female participants in this study is anecdotal evidence that supermarket shopping continues to be an undertaking that is mediated by gender. However, regardless of whether it is performed by women or men, shopping for animal-based foods, is emblematic of, as well as a performance of identity, class, and social relations. Furthermore, the art of shopping for meat and other animal-based foods, and knowing what is good to eat and what is not, is transmi...
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...tus to the notion that eating meat is largely a product of habituation, and as such, is a culinary practice embedded within the Australian psyche. To reinforce this, I look to Fox and Ward’s (2008) account of the relationship between eating and identity, and their argument that diet and behaviour are mutually constitutive, with identities both derived from and influenced by dietary choice (p. 2528).
My research is structured as a comparative study and looks at both inter-cultural and cross-cultural difference within Sydney’s urban environment, as well as differences between the ways urban and country Australians shop for meat and other animal-based items at supermarkets. By investigating the process of shopping for animal-based foods from different perspectives, I have developed a conceptual framework that provides a holistic overview of supermarket shoppers.
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