Gut feelings and possible tomorrows: (where) does animal farming fit?

12 May 2015

Tara Garnett Food Climate Research Network Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

View Journal Article / Working Paper

In this paper, the author looks at the different narratives that people construct about the food – and specifically the meat – ‘problem,’ explores the values and beliefs that underpin them, and shows why we need to pay more attention to these same values and beliefs. It is divided into three parts. Part One asks who the stakeholders are in discussions about meat, and what stories they tell about the problem – what lies at its root and who and what is to blame. Part two looks at solutions. It explores the visions of ‘good’ – the sustainable livestock futures – that can be inferred from looking at the way in which stakeholders define the problems. These visions are sketched out as scenarios and a little life breathed into them. What might happen if the world were really like this? How is success defined in these futures, what sort of dynamic tensions might start to manifest themselves, and what new problems might emerge? Of course, having drafted a set of scenarios, the obvious question that arises is ‘so what?’ Visions of the future are ten a penny and scenario construction a whole microindustry in itself. Is there anything to be gained from exploring the values that different people bring to the issues, and where their ideals might lead, if followed through to their logical and extreme conclusions? The final part of the paper focuses on this “so what?” question and makes the case for more self-critical, exploratory approaches to research, policy and advocacy.