Topic: Spectres of the 20th Century Political Ideas and the Nowadays ‘Authentic Rurality’: An Analysis of the Romanian Public Discourse on agri-food issues
Key words: rural authenticity, agri-food policies, food advertising, nationalism
Recent research on Romanian consumers’ buying behaviour patterns shows that about 81% of the food that Romanians buy in one month is produced in Romania. About 92% of those choosing national products are mainly targeting perishable food: dairy, meat, fruits, vegetables. The main reasons for buying these products are the desire to support Romanian companies, small producers and, in general, the national economy and the perception that the domestic food is more natural, fresher, safer and has a better quality. The way consumers relate to Romanian products is consistent with the public discourse on food and agriculture, which has lately been marked by strong ideological elements that inoculate a very specific way of understanding authenticity by referring to rural areas. The expressions of the public discourse range from naive food advertising that outline idyllic pastoral images of the countryside as a source of authenticity to impacting political action such as the adoption of the Romanian Law 150/2016 on the marketing of food products. The latter has forced large retailers to purchase at least 51% of agricultural and food products from local producers (short food supply chains), which has raised concerns about compliance with the principle of free movement of goods. As a result, the European Commission has launched an infringement procedure against Romania. The present paper discusses the concept of ‘authentic rurality’ in relation to the agri-food sector by analyzing: agricultural and food policies, public speeches of political actors and advertisements of the best sold Romanian food products.