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How much choice do people in Britain have over the food they eat in contemporary society? How can we best understand the choices individuals make?

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Introduction

Ashley Wicken How much choice do people in Britain have over the food they eat in contemporary society? How can we best understand the choices individuals make? The food available in Britain today provides consumer with an unprecedented level of choice. However these choices are not as varied as they may appear. Complexity typifies consumer's food choices, however quality indicators, cultural and economic factors can be viewed as the most significant influences upon peoples food choices, these factors offers an interesting template that allows the analysis of consumer food choice. It is obvious that British consumers have a greater choice of food types than ever before, responsibility for this comes mainly from supermarkets which offering a huge range of products from a variety of cultures, although takeaways and restaurants have also added to this verity it is the supermarket that truly revolutionised the choices available. Today even minority groups are catered for, vegetarians and religious groups are clear examples of this. The forms of food available have also changed dramatically, fresh, processed, frozen and ready-made meals are all available recent changes include the growth of organic, functional, environmentally friendly and foods made with consideration of animal welfare. The industrialisation of farming has resulted in an expansion of both the range of products available and the number of people they are available too. ...read more.

Middle

These theories are informed by the levels of education and are therefore personal however certain themes can be established, for example fatty, sweet foods with additives are usually seen as unhealthy whist vegetables are generally perceived as healthy. People choices, with respect to health are therefore difficult to quantify as they are so subjective, however the increased sale of low fat and functional foods would suggest health to be important. The health benefits of foods have often become linked, in recent years, with processing methods, organic foods often being seen as healthy whilst industrial farms as unhealthy. Processing methods in more general terms have also come to influence the food choice. The expanding popularity of environmentally friendly, GM-free, animal welfare and organically produced foods, is testament to this, expansion in the importance of processing to consumers choices, especially given that goods produced in these ways are usually more expensive, despite having no obvious advantages in sensory and in most cases health terms. The growing importance of process to modern consumers can be traced to the numerous health scares surrounding poor farming or processing methods, the BSE crisis provides the clearest example of this. This is perhaps the least significant of the four attributes informing people's food choices, because their market share represents only a small percentage. ...read more.

Conclusion

The diversity of products available with different wrapping coupled with the disproportionate availability of cheap and easily produced products are examples the hidden ways in which choices are restricted. Contemporary food choices can be analysed with reference to quality indicators, however the perception of consumers food choices have become increasingly multidimensional. Each of the four quality attributes defines a major dimension that defines the way food is viewed and chosen by consumers. Subjective interpretations as to which indicators are more or less important all affects the choices consumers make. Cultural differences add additional complexity to consumer's choices. Modern food choices are more 'dynamic, complex and heterogeneous'5 than has ever been the case previously. A huge selection of products coupled with a complexity of motives, underlie modern food choices in Britain. Books Beardsworth, A. & Keil, T. (1997) Sociology on the Menu: an invitation to the study of food and society. London: Routledge Tansey, G. & Worsley, T. (1995) The Food System: A Guide. London: Earthscan Ritzer, G. (2000 New Century Edition, or 1996, 1993 editions) The McDonaldization of Society. London: Pine Forge Press. Internet W.Berry 'the pleasure of eating' http://www.stjoan.com/ecosp/docs/pleasures_of_eating_by_wendell_b.htm Dowler, liz, insight from the north http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0950-6764 Grunert, Klaus, The Aarhus School, http://www.farmfoundation.org/documents/KlausGrunert3-13-03.pp 1 W.Berry 'the pleasure of eating' http://www.stjoan.com/ecosp/docs/pleasures_of_eating_by_wendell_b.htm 2 http://www.farmfoundation.org/documents/KlausGrunert3-13-03.ppt. Klaus G. Grunert The Aarhus School of Business Denmark 3 http://econpapers.hhs.se/paper/hhbaarmap/0077.htm 4 http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0950-6764 insight from the north. Liz dowler 5 http://www.farmfoundation.org/documents/KlausGrunert3-13-03.ppt. Klaus G. Grunert The Aarhus School of Business Denmark ...read more.

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