Reconnecting through local food initiatives? Purpose, practice and conceptions of ‘value’

Agriculture and Human Values 35 (1):67-81 (2018)
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Abstract

Reconnection between producers and consumers is often presented as an integral part of the local food narrative. However, questions can arise as to whether local food producers and their food purchasers align in mindset and the value proposition that underpins their involvement. This paper draws on interview data collected from producers and consumers participating in direct-sell meat operations to explore so-called value propositions between these two actors in local food initiatives in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. We suggest that because producers and consumers value their participation and associated ‘reconnection’ for different reasons and experience practical limitations in satisfying diverse expectations, the ‘reconnection’ metaphor is complex and contingent—especially at the level of the individual. The findings suggest that new roles, realities and beliefs for each party in regard to marketing, customer relations, distribution, and convenience might predispose participants to be in favor of other arrangements if they became more readily available and were capable of guaranteeing both profitability for the producer and healthy foods for the consumer.

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J. J. Smithers
University of Manchester