Ethical and Unethical Food. Social Representations Among Finnish, Danish and Italian Students
Appetite 2011 Apr; 56(2): 495-502
The consumption of ethical food is an area of major growth. The aim of the current study was to identify ethical concerns regarding food. University students (N=403) from Finland, Denmark and Italy completed a word association task, in which the given stimulus words were "ethical food" and "unethical food". The data was first analysed qualitatively. Next, the most relevant, core categories were identified based on the frequency, rank and contextual stability. The results indicated that fourteen categories reflect the content and nature of ethical thinking with respect to food. The identified categories were required/prohibited food, natural/unnatural, local/global, healthy/unhealthy, equality/inequality, good animal welfare/poor animal welfare, rules and descriptions. In all countries, the core categories emerging from the stimulus word "ethical food" were the required food and the natural, while the core category identified from the stimulus word "unethical food" was the prohibited food. The most prevalent differences between the countries concerned the role of health, country of origin and the descriptions. In conclusion, various ethical aspects are considered when food is evaluated in ethical terms, but the relevance of these aspects differ, even in the European context.
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