Over the last 40 years the number of grey geese in the Netherlands has increased dramatically, and the bird is now regarded as a ‘pest’ species. The bird is viewed as particularly problematic in the region of Schiphol airport due to implications for aircraft safety. Over the last decade, a policy has been in place to actively hunt geese within a defined region around Schiphol. Various objections to this practice have been raised (e.g. around animal welfare), but one in particular relates to the wastefulness of killing and disposing of edible animals. Consequently, a small market has now developed, with meat from geese killed near the airport (‘Schipholgans’) being incorporated into foods such as bitterballen. This case provides a useful means of investigating how ‘unwanted’ animal species are framed as a problem, how the consumption of such animals is proposed as a solution, and how certain novel or unusual foods become positioned as ‘edible’.
This thesis will trace the history of the grey goose 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 and consumption of ‘Schipholgans’ products. 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 changing ecologies, 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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