Dairy products made from goat milk are popular in the Netherlands. Goat farmers are principally interested in keeping female goats, who produce the milk required. Male goats – which are of little economic value and thus unwanted – are slaughtered, and their meat is either shipped to southern Europe (where an established market exists) or used in animal feed. Recently, this has come to be regarded as a problem. Slaughter of young male goats for animal feed is seen as a waste of potentially edible meat, and the transport emissions associated with exporting food that could potentially find a domestic market are also seen as problematic. An EU-funded project aims to develop a Dutch market for male goat meat, and a multi-stakeholder initiative called ‘Goatober’ has been set up to promote consumption of goat in the Netherlands. This case raises a number of interesting questions about the positioning of novel or unusual things as ‘edible’.
This thesis will trace the history of the male goat problematic in the Netherlands, as well as reviewing relevant literatures (e.g. around the development of new food supply chains, the consumption of novel or unusual foods, and efforts to market abundant or unwanted species). Empirical work (e.g. interviews, observations) will then be undertaken with key actors relating to the production, supply, promotion and consumption of male goat meat. The thesis will explain how novel or unusual things come to be positioned as ‘food’, illustrating the different actors and processes involved in making this happen. It will also shed light on how new food supply chains come to be developed, and how such activities relate to broader questions around the adoption of new cuisines, human-animal relations, and notions of ‘ethical’ consumption.
This thesis employs qualitative research methods: this will involve primary data collection (e.g. interviews, observations) and desk-based research (e.g. review and analysis of academic literature, historical/archival sources, popular sources/grey literature).
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