Media cooks up a change in tastes
THE rise in popularity of television cooking shows is changing our relationship with food, says a University of Tasmania lecturer.
Media and communications expert Michelle Phillipov’s research is exploring how the media is shaping consumers’ relationship with food and what this could mean for Tasmanian producers.
Dr Phillipov has analysed the new politics of food in her paper A “Labour of Love”? The GUIDANCE: University of Tasmania senior journalism lecturer Michelle Phillipov, who has researched the new politics of food. Politics and Pleasures of Niche Food Production, which comes out of an Australian Research Council project.
She said there was a high concentration of artisan food producers in Tasmania.
“The social fabric of the island has also been influenced significantly by the strength of agriculture in the economy,” she said.
Dr Phillipov said the intensified media focus on food had led to an exponential growth in the artisan food sector, which was an estimated $5.5 billion industry in Australia.
“In food media, we are seeing a repeated set of images and ideas about what constitutes good food, what kind of food is desirable and pleasurable, what kind of should be choosing.
“However, we are seeing farmers represented in a narrow view, where the hard work of farming is minimised. The hardships involved in farming are widely known, for example farmers are leaving the land in greater numbers than ever before,” Dr Phillipov said.
“It is important to have a conversation about the politics of our food system and how people can forge sustainable careers within that food system.”
The distance between producers and consumers, paradoxically, could be amplified by how farmers are represented in the media, she said.
“It may also prevent niche food we food producers from really developing an alternative not just in their production practices, but also in their media and communications strategies,” Dr Phillipov said.
She said the goal of the research was to provide farmers and food producers with guidance on how to engage with different media platforms to promote their business.
She said this included recommendations on how to engage with the food tourism market and understanding consumer expectations at the farmgate.
Dr Phillipov has written two books and will be releasing a third one titled Media and Food Industries: The New Politics of Food.