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(Re)connecting the food chain: entangling cattle, farmers and consumers in the sale of raw milk

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JournalThe Sociological Review
DateAccepted/In press - 8 Jan 2021
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article investigates the growing market for cow’s milk sold directly from the farm, often known as 'raw milk'. Drawing on qualitative research with UK raw milk producers we add new insights to the sociology of food by demonstrating how knowledge about the ‘goodness’ and 'purity' of cow's milk arises and becomes powerful in producer and consumer groups. Our empirical findings highlight that for a small proportion of producers and consumers, raw milk helps to provide visual, gustatory and sensory points of contact. These contact points, we argue, address some of the contemporary concerns that have arisen over the source, content and ethics of milk by bringing together the means and ends of the food chain. Importantly within this process, cattle and farmyards help forge a powerful entanglement that sustains the commercial exchange. Our findings show that messages about 'goodness' and 'purity' in raw milk provide a timely counterpoint to the distancing and separation that characterises many modern food chains.

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