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Keywords:

  • Organic fruits and vegetables;
  • farmers’ markets;
  • reflexive consumers;
  • trust;
  • social movements;
  • certification;
  • postorganic

Abstract

This paper examines how trusting relations between consumers and vendors of organic fresh fruits and vegetables (FFVs) in a particular type of farmers’ market (FM) in Ireland are established and maintained, and what the implications of this are. First, the food system is outlined, and then its attendant problems. These problems have led to various solutions, two of which are organic food and FMs. Then, the growth in these two areas is outlined, as is the accompanying growth in the academic literature on these two areas, some of which overlaps. Various pressures, including in particular the increasing distance food travels and disconnected stallholders and products at the FM, are suggested. In light of this, a need to apply an understanding of the reflexive consumer, trust and social movements is suggested. It is found that the consumers interviewed act reflexively by choosing to go to these FMs. They prioritize the trusting relationships built up through repeated personal contact at these FMs over and above organic certification. Along with and as part of this, they prioritize local, fresh, seasonal ‘chemical-free’ FFVs over and above imported certified organic produce. Various aspects of collective identity formation, including modes of behaviour, objects and stories, and language, are involved in this process. These elements, to some extent, act as a buffer against the pressures of distance and disconnection. Along with this, the essential meaning of the word organic is, in this particular context, reconstructed to include various socio-environmental values missing from some certified organic produce. The word postorganic is suggested. The main methodologies used are semistructured in-depth interviews and participant observation.