The Flavours of the Indigenous: Branding Native Food Products in Contemporary Australia

Charlotte Craw

Abstract


Tis essay investigates the recent incorporation of Australian ‘native’ ingredients into a range of food products. Examples of the packaging of products containing such ingredients are analysed to provide an overview of ‘native’ food packaging, demonstrating the semiotic diversity of ideas of ‘indigeneity’ in this context. Te essay then explores how these multiple infections relate to wider discourses of racialised diference in contemporary Australia, focusing on how discussions of ‘natural’ phenomena refect confusion over who can be said to
‘properly’ belong to a place – a question that involves such urgent concerns for postcolonial societies as the (il)legitimacy of settler claims to land ownership. Much analysis of contemporary racisms positions them as articulating cultural
rather than biological diferences. Understandings of diference nonetheless continue to be inscribed with reference to particular bodies. ‘Native’ foods are a potent site for investigating such processes: food is ofen presented as a key
site of cross-cultural exchange and interaction, but despite this cultural infection, ‘native’ foodstufs are ofen marketed as ‘natural’. Tis constitutes a crucial diference between native foodstufs and the extensive range of products branded through references to ‘exotic’ ethnicities. Exploring the entanglement
of multiple narratives used to position native food products, this essay reveals how the realm of ecology, conceived of as ‘natural’ and therefore exterior to politics, is used as a forum for very political questions of ‘belonging’.

Keywords


indigeneity, nature, Aboriginal culture, racialised difference, food, product packaging

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11157/sites-vol5iss1id86