This paper adopts a material‐semiotic approach to explore the multiple ontologies of “freshness” as a quality of food. The analysis is based on fieldwork in the UK and Portugal, with particular emphasis on fish, poultry, and fruit and vegetables. Using evidence from archival research, ethnographic observation and interviews with food businesses (including major retailers and their suppliers) plus qualitative household‐level research with consumers, the paper unsettles the conventional view of freshness as a single, stable quality of food. Rather than approaching the multiplicity of freshness as a series of social constructions (different perspectives on essentially the same thing), we identify its multiple ontologies. The analysis explores their enactment as uniform and consistent, local and seasonal, natural and authentic, and sentient and lively. The paper traces the effects of these enactments across the food system, drawing out the significance of our approach for current and future geographical studies of food.
|Number of pages
|Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers
|Early online date
|30 Jul 2018
|Published - 1 Mar 2019