Where does meat come from? Not the supermarket!

Monday, 21 October 2013

How do Australian parents talk to their children about meat production in households that eat meat? Do these parents find telling children where meat comes from to be a challenging experience? Are there family activities that make conversations about meat production more or less challenging?

These questions form the basis of a new pilot study at the University of Adelaide aimed at understanding Australian family attitudes to meat eating and the use of animals for food production among the under researched group of families who consume meat products.

The welfare of animals produced for food has become an area of concern in the community with increasing sales of products labeled as humanely-produced (e.g., 'free-range') and recent high-profile media campaigns highlighting animal production methods such as intensive livestock farming.

Associate Professor Rachel Ankeny from the School of History and Politics said: "There is limited research on how we form our earliest ideas and beliefs about the processes associated with farming animals for meat, particularly outside of those groups such as vegetarians who have decided against having their children consume meat."

Learning about food and the values associated with it usually occurs in the home. Although increasing numbers of Australians indicate they are concerned about animal welfare, they report varying levels of knowledge about animal production practices.

Associate Professor Ankeny said: "We expect that for many parents talking about where the meat being consumed in their household comes from may be one of those taboo or difficult topics, right up there with sex or drugs, but one that many kids want to know about."

This pilot study will use an online survey to explore Australian parents' attitudes to talking to their meat-eating children about meat production and other family activities related to animals.

"We hope that this research will give us more information on what parents think about talking with their children about meat production and what support might be provided to help them do so in a constructive and accurate manner," Associate Professor Ankeny added.

The survey will be open for approximately 6 weeks and is open to adults who currently reside in Australia who have meat-eating children between the ages of 2 and 16.

For more information or to participate in the study go to: ua.edu.au/foodresearch


Contact Details

Professor Rachel Ankeny
Email: rachel.ankeny@adelaide.edu.au
Department of History
School of Humanities
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5570
Mobile: +61 (0)414 893 379

Kate Matheson
Email: kate.matheson@adelaide.edu.au
Media and Communications Officer
The University of Adelaide
Business: 08 8313 1776
Mobile: 0414 559 773