Raising “Unpolluted Children”: The Discourse on Organic Food, Risk Management and the Practices of Mothering
Li-Fang Liang(Institute of Health and Welfare Policy, National Yang-Ming University)
Intensive mothering is the most important characteristic of contemporary motherhood. In this framework it is argued that mothers are the best care-givers for their children, and they need to invest a huge amount of time, energy, and even money in raising children. Influenced by the ideology of neo-liberalism, the society considers that individuals need to be responsible for their own well-being, health, and success or failure. Since children are regarded as uncompleted human beings, their mothers are in charge of managing their risks and preventing them from falling into danger. This article investigates how, influenced by the discourse of organic food, “foodwork” has become an important field for mothering, and how gender and class inequalities are reproduced through foodwork.
Relying upon interviews with middle-class mothers, this article illustrates how the discourse of organic food, risk management and the ideology of intensive mothering shapes their daily practices of foodwork for their children. First, through ing, consuming and cooking organic food, the mothers manage the risks their children confront in everyday life, and prevent their children from being “polluted”. Second, foodwork has become important for practicing motherhood and builds upon the identity of “mother”. Third, these mothers seek to fulfill their responsibilities in protecting both the general environment and their children’s future. At the same time, they reinforce the emphasis on personal rationality in the neo-liberal context. Because of their social class capital, on one hand, these mothers are more capable in making decisions. On the other hand, their practices of mothering are still affected by the traditional gender system. Their involvement in foodwork reinforces gender inequality in the labor division of child care.
organic food, risk management, mothering, gender, social class, foodwork