Commodity Fetishism

"I often ask beginner geography students to consider where their last meal came from. Tracing back all the items used in the production of that meal reveals a relation of dependence upon a whole world of social labour conducted in many different places under very different social relations and conditions of production … This was the condition that Karl Marx picked up on in developing one of his most telling concepts – the fetishism of commodities. He sought to capture by that term the way in which markets conceal social (and, we should add, geographical) information and relations … The grapes that sit upon the supermarket shelves are mute; we cannot see the fingerprints of exploitation upon them or tell immediately what part of the world they are from. We can, by further enquiry, lift the veil on this geographical and social ignorance and make ourselves aware of these issues (as we do when we engage in consumer boycott of non-union or [apartheid-era] South African grapes) … 

The geographical ignorance that arises out of the fetishism of commodities is in itself cause for concern. The spatial range of our own individual experience of procuring commodities in the marketplace bears no relationship to the spatial range over which the commodities themselves are produced." 

–"Between Space and Time". David Harvey. 1990.