Of bodies, place, and culture: Re-situating local food [Book Review]

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 19 (2):121-146 (2005)
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Abstract

In the US, an increasingly popular local food movement is propelled along by structural arguments that highlight the inequity and unsustainablity of the current agri-food system and by individually based arguments that highlight personal health and well-being. Despite clear differences in their foci, the deeper values contained in each argument tend to be neglected or lost, while local innovations assume instrumental and largely market-based forms. By narrowing their focus to the rational and the economic, movement activists tend to overlook (or marginalize) the role of the sensual, the emotional, the expressive for maintaining layered sets of embodied relationships to food and to place. This paper seeks to show that cultural and nonrational elements are fundamental to local food discussions. It proceeds from the assumption that, without them as full partners, the movement cannot be sustained in any felt, practiced, or committed way. To this end, it discusses the concept of place and bodies in place, as well as the connections between the ecological and the cultural, the sensual and the scientific. It offers a new set of questions and conceptual tools with which advocates and activists may “ground,” and thereby revalue and restore, the promise and practice of local food.

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