When Carrots Become Posh: Untangling the Relationship Between ‘Heritage’ Foods and Social Distinction

Abigail Wincott

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


There has been a growing discourse of ‘heritage’ foods over the past decade. It is a discourse that incorporates rarebreed meats, traditional cheeses, vegetables and fruit. Rejected by mainstream industrial production, they food that are framed as highly endangered. We are urged to buy, grow and eat these treasures of human civilisation or lose them forever. As with other kinds of ‘alternative’ food, enthusiasts claim they represent a means to resist corporate dominance of the food system – in the words of a Reclaim the Fields poster, they might help us ‘beet the system’. But there is an increasingly uncomfortable tension between these ‘alternative’ claims, and the sight of so many heritage products for sale in supermarkets and in upmarket restaurants and gastro-pubs, not to mention their prominence in the lifestyle sections of broadsheet newspapers aimed squarely at a well-off, middle class audience. What makes heritage foods ‘posh’ and does it matter? This chapter teases out the ways that heritage foods reproduce social distinction. It argues that they do so not only due to being ‘co-opted’ by businesses (a kind of ‘heritage patina’ in the tradition of greenwashing), but in ways that are intrinsic to the project of heritage consumption itself.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAlternative Food Politics
Subtitle of host publicationFrom the Margins to the Mainstream
EditorsMichelle Phillipov, Katherine Kirkwood
ISBN (Print)9781138300804
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2018

Publication series

NameCritical Food Studies


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