Slipping through the Cracks
By the 1980s the French agricultural sector had become one of the most powerful players in the global food system. It was the second largest exporter in the world and its foreign-market earnings led many to refer to the farm sector as the "green petroleum" of France. Others, however, preferred to believe that French agriculture was grounded in terroir-based artisanal production, a wilful misrecognition that the state used to its advantage, marketing French foodstuffs as quality products. While quality production certainly did increase, buttressed by the introduction of such labels as the Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC), non-industrial production only ever accounted for a marginal percentage of total output. Caught between the reality of industrial production and a public reputation for quality output, French farmers continued to navigate the war of attrition brought on by industrialization and to resist their own obsolescence.
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