The plural bases of trusting organic food: from certification to the ‘‘caterpillar test’’


The aim of this article is to analyze how the multiple forms of trust in relation to foodstuff is built by a group of consumers of organic produce. There are two main arguments in this article. First, through a review of the social studies on trust, we have critically reflected on their limitations, arguing that these studies are too focused on humanist perspectives. There is a need for integrating insights that go beyond humanism (we highlight the social studies of science by Bruno Latour and Michel Callon). Second, after delineating our qualitative research, we seek to illustrate the various bases people use for trusting organics, moving well beyond the triad of trust relations described in KJAERNES et al (2007). Beyond certification processes and interpersonal relations with products, it is observed how aesthetic, sensorial and metabolic characteristics become significant in the day-to-day relationship people
establish with organic foods. The reformulation of the concept of trust is explored in more depth in order to arrive at a less ‘humanist’ and exclusively social explanation of trust in which the agency of animals plays an important role. The presence or traces left by caterpillars, worms, larvae and other bugs falls within what some authors call
‘ethological turn’ within social theory (LORIMER, 2008). This ‘turn’ is inspired by the theory of relational ontology of Deleuze and Guattari (1987) which describes itself as being “open to the ‘affects’ of different organisms” (LORIMER, 2008, p.379). In other words, this proposal takes into account “the potential intersections and incommensurabilities between human and non-human affects and the constraints these place on behavior and ecology” (LORIMER, 2008, p. 379).