Problematizing Local Consumption: Is Local Food better simply because it’s Local?
Lucius F. Hallett, IV, PhD

Industrial, globalized food chains, with their pesticides, herbicides and lack of transparency in labor practices, imply an inferior product when contrasted with local food. However, this does not mean the local is without fault or that in some cases the global might be more fair or equitable. Ethnographic interviews in farmers’ markets, supermarkets and produce distributors in Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri show how the local is constructed out of an assemblage of ‘what-ever-it-takes’ efforts to convince consumers of foods worthiness to be called local. This suggests that researchers and consumers need to be aware of falling into what might be called the ‘Local Trap.’These interviews provide valuable insight into the workings of the local that highlight the danger of blindly equating local with better simply because of its identification as a local place. These understandings of local origins help create a semiotics where consumption at the local level is seen as better simply because it is produced locally.

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