Tactical Consumers: The re-appropriation of organic food labels in everyday practices


  • Louisa Weiss




It is a vast array of product choices that presents itself to consumers every day. Consumers therefore need to develop criteria on which they can base their decisions. Such criteria are in turn influenced by many circumstances, amongst these the information received and processed by the shoppers. One aspect of such information, addressed towards the consumer, is the labelling of organic food. Displayed on the package of products that are found in the shelves of supermarkets and organic food stores, these labels are meant to function as guides of organic and thus more ethical, righteous or environmentally friendly purchase in the jungle of choices of products provided. But how do consumers really perceive these labels? This question has increased in relevance in recent time, both for researchers interested in ethical and political consumption, but also for the consumers themselves. It is them who are making and are (indirectly) asked to make the relevant decisions in their everyday practices of shopping. Their individual reflections on labelled and unlabelled organic foodstuffs are therefore of special interest to the analysis of contemporary consumption. What do consumers do with the information given to them? Are labels trusted, used and paid attention to? More clearly, the question must be asked: how do consumers give meaning to the labels and appropriate them into their daily shopping decisions? Due to the fact that grocery shopping is the kind of purchase that consumers engage in most often – many people do it almost daily – I chose this particular shopping activity as a focus of my research. The labels referred to in the following are thus organic labels of foodstuff.


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