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Presentation of the Local Foods Research Project to the Scottish Colloquium on Food and Feeding, Dec 12, 2008

Presentation of the Local Foods Research Project to the Scottish Colloquium on Food and Feeding, Dec 12, 2008

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    SCOFF Presentation SCOFF Presentation Presentation Transcript

    • Exploring Localism in Alternative Food Networks Eating Locally and Eating Well in Fife, Scotland Scottish Colloquium on Food and Feeding December 12, 2008 Ed Harris, MSc by Research in Human Geography - Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh
    • Introducing the Alternative Food Networks Alternative Food Networks (AFNs)   Food related activities that distinguish themselves from ‘conventional food systems’   Concepts of embeddedness, trust and place are mobilized to (re-)build relationships between producers and consumers   Place-embeddedness: 1.  ‘product and place’ Localization is widely seen as the key to building sustainable food 2.  ‘process and place’ systems Ed Harris, MSc by Research in Human Geography Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh
    • Localism in Alternative Food Networks “The geography of the modern food system reveals that, as food chains become stretched further and in more complex ways across space, we experience both the physical and psychological displacement of production from consumption, and all of the other disconnections and disembedding which follow in that stead – loss of rural agricultural resilience and diversity, degradation of the environment, dislocation of community, loss of identity and place” (Feagan 2007, 38) “we are cautious about an emancipatory food agenda that relies primarily on the naming and following of a particular set of norms or imaginaries about place.” (DuPuis & Goodman, 2005, 360) Ed Harris, MSc by Research in Human Geography Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh
    • Localism in Alternative Food Networks “Defensive food system localization tends to stress the homogeneity and coherence of the ‘local’, in patriotic opposition to heterogenous and destabilizing outside forces, perhaps a global ‘other’.” (Hinrichs, 2003, 37) “The valorization of the ‘local’ … may be less about the radical affirmation of an ethic of community or care, and more to do with the reproduction of a less positive parochialism or nationalism, a conservative celebration of the local as the supposed repository of specific values and meanings.” (Holloway & Kneafsey, 2000, 294) Ed Harris, MSc by Research in Human Geography Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh
    • Where? When? How? Semi-structured interviews with consumers, producers and organizations April – May 2008 Ed Harris, MSc by Research in Human Geography Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh
    • Theoretical Context: Scale Scales are socially constructed “the tendency to partition the social world into hierarchically ordered   Not pre-given categories spatial ‘containers’ is what we want to explain – not explain things   Representations of space with” (Moore, 2008, 212)   Socially produced  Examine process through which   Contextual, and can change ‘local’ becomes naturalized, reified entity. This approach… “directs our attention to the ways in So how should we treat scale in which scalar narratives, classifications academic research? and cognitive schemas constrain or enable certain ways of seeing,   as an analytical category? thinking and acting” (Moore, 2008, 214)   as a ‘category of practice’? Ed Harris, MSc by Research in Human Geography Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh
    • Results: Localism in Fife AFNs What were participants’ motivations for involvement with AFNs in Fife?   Wide range of motivations – environmental, social, economic   Normative value ascribed to direct producer-consumer contact (reference to trust, knowledge)   Consumers expressed desire for products embedded in ‘local’ places   ‘Alterity’ of the local food system is of differing levels of importance Ed Harris, MSc by Research in Human Geography Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh
    • Results: the Politics of the ‘Local’   Participants constructed the ‘local’ as a space in which their various environmental, social and economic agendas could be enacted successfully   Constructed through practices and rhetoric   ‘Local’ refers to: 1.  Small geographical area 2.  Ethical norms: trust, quality, environmental protection, financial security for producers   Norms are not guaranteed by ‘local’ food system, but through discursive use, ‘local’ comes to refer to these norms Ed Harris, MSc by Research in Human Geography Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh
    • Results: the Politics of the ‘Local’ How are constructions of the ‘local’ advantageous? (Do they “enable certain ways of seeing, thinking and acting”? – Moore, 2008)   Solidarity with other ‘local’ groups encourages collaborative working   Cultivates stronger sense of attachment to place   Generates feeling of greater efficacy in food system   Makes the challenge of achieving sustainability more manageable Ed Harris, MSc by Research in Human Geography Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh
    • Defensive Localism or a Progressive Social Movement? Regressive? Progressive?  Uncritical assumptions about the   Elitism recognized as a danger ‘local’, eg. ‘Fife food identity’; ‘local’   Measures to promote inclusivity as known/familiar   Discussions and collaboration  “Rural imaginary” (described by between groups with different DuPuis and Goodman) that agendas, user-groups and goals characterizes localist discourse is present in Fife AFN discourse:   Not just ‘local’ – inspired by and learning from AFN activism “expressed in an ‘unmarked’ discourse of small family farms, local markets around the world where producers and consumers   This is an emergent network – interact, regional food cultures, vibrant trends are towards greater rural communities, and ecologically reflexivity and inclusiveness diverse rural environments.” (2005, 363) Ed Harris, MSc by Research in Human Geography Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh
    • Conclusions   ‘Local’ in Fife alternative food networks is a flexible socio-spatial container which is:   constructed through practices and rhetoric   heterogeneous, assuming different characteristics for different people   ‘Local’ food systems are not just limited in spatial size, but are associated with ethical norms related to trust, quality, economic well-being and environmental protection   Constructions of the ‘local’ help those involved in AFN activities to enact a range of pragmatic and ethical agendas   AFN localism in Fife does exhibit some ‘unreflexive’ or ‘defensive’ tendencies, but localism is not a regressive political strategy   Constructions of the ‘local’ in Fife play a vital role in bringing previously disparate groups together Ed Harris, MSc by Research in Human Geography Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh
    • Questions? http://localfoods.wordpress.com/ Castree, N. (2004) Differential geographies: place, indigenous rights and ‘local’ resources Political Geography 23, 133-167 DuPuis, E.M. and Goodman, D. (2005) Should we go “home” to eat?: toward a reflexive politics of localism Journal of Rural Studies 21, 359-371 Feagan, R. (2007) The place of food: mapping out the ‘local’ in local food systems Progress in Human Geography 31, 23-42 Hinrichs, C.C. (2003) The practice and politics of food system localization Journal of Rural Studies 19, 33-45 Holloway, L. and Kneafsey, M. (2000) Reading the space of the farmers’ market: a case study from the United Kingdom Sociologia Ruralis 40, 285-387 Jarosz, L. (2008) The city in the country: growing alternative food networks in metropolitan areas Journal of Rural Studies 24, 231-244 Moore, A. (2008) Rethinking scale as a geographical category: from analysis to practice Progress in Human Geography 32, 203-225 Ed Harris, MSc by Research in Human Geography Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh