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Brazilian chefs redefine the country’s cuisine through controversial commercialization of Amazonian traditions

Several Brazilian chefs have attempted to redefine the country’s cuisine through the use of traditional Amazonian ingredients – but this has caused controversy, according to new research from Professor Maria Carolina Zanette, NEOMA Business School, and researchers from FGV-EAESP, Brazil.
These chefs, who belong to a more dominant, marketed culture in Brazil, have attempted to commercialise Amazonian cooking methods, but in doing so they have disregarded aspects of the Amazonian producers’ traditions, creating challenges for these minority groups.

“This scenario is called ‘eating the other’ – a process where difference is commercialized for the benefit of a dominant culture. This process imposes challenges for the producers from these ethnic minorities, who have to decide whether they accept or resist this process” says Professor Zanette.
In commercializing these ethnicities, members of the dominant culture – the chefs – have tended to change the forms of production used by ethnic producers to suit their own commercial purposes.
Consequently, ethnic producers have become confronted with challenges as they subsequently change themselves to adapt to the way the more commercialised chefs use their ingredients and cooking methods.

These challenges throw up different consequences, the research reveals. On the one hand, the rediscovery could present new economic opportunities for the ethnic producers in the Amazonian region, where inhabitants are amongst the poorest in the country.

On the other hand, the commercialization of their cooking methods could lead to an exploitation of the Amazonian people’s traditions, without bringing them any economic benefits.
“The Amazon region has historically been marked by developmentalist policies of exploitation, performed by state and company interventions that explore the natural resources of the region with unmet promises of economic growth and social improvement” says Professor Zanette.
These findings highlight the disparity between cultures in Brazil, the researchers state, and therefore further research is needed on sustainable development, supply chain practices, and marketing strategies, as more dominant cultures continue to engage and replicate ethnic minorities.
These findings were based on a multi-method qualitative study, and published in the ‘Journal of Business Research’.

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