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Clean foods, motherhood and alternative food networks in contemporary Istanbul

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Since the early 2000s, the numbers of alternative food networks (AFNs) in Istanbul have increased significantly. Members are usually white collar, university educated, upper middle class Istanbulites who got into the AFNs during their (or their partner’s) pregnancy. Contributing to an ongoing discussion about the exclusionary dynamics within the food movement, in this paper I trace the meanings these affluent mothers attach to “clean and fresh foods” and AFN participation-membership. Using evidence from semi-structured interviews, I argue that they link their identity as food activists and their identity as mothers, and they use motherhood discursively to distinguish themselves from others - particularly lower-class mothers who are not AFN members, and women who are AFN members, but are not mothers. Further reinforcing the socio-economic boundaries and hierarchies within (and beyond) the AFNs, these discourses on motherhood also undermine the expansive potential of the food movement in Turkey.
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Keywords: Alternative food networks; Istanbul; food movement; motherhood; urban provisioning; womanhood

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Gastronomy and Culinary Arts, Ozyegin University, Istanbul, Turkey

Publication date: February 1, 2019

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