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Are local food and the local food movement taking us where we want to go? Or are we hitching our wagons to the wrong stars?


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  • Laura DeLind


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    Much is being made of local food. It is at once a social movement, a diet, and an economic strategy—a popular solution—to a global food system in great distress. Yet, despite its popularity or perhaps because of it, local food (especially in the US) is also something of a chimera if not a tool of the status quo. This paper reflects on and contrasts aspects of current local food rhetoric with Dalhberg’s notion of a regenerative food system. It identifies three problematic emphases—the locavore emphasis, the Wal-Mart emphasis, and the Pollan emphasis—and argues that they are shifting local food (as a concept and a social movement) away from the deeper concerns of equity, citizenship, place-building, and sustainability. It is suggested that local food activists and advocates might consider the use of multiple methodologies and forms of expression to explore the integration and reintegration of local food into diverse and redundant place-based practice. A short case study of a low-income, urban neighborhood in Lansing, Michigan, illustrates the value of contextual analysis for more fully enabling the local food movement and a regenerative food system. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Agriculture and Human Values.

    Volume (Year): 28 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 2 (June)
    Pages: 273-283

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    Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:28:y:2011:i:2:p:273-283

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    Keywords: Local food movement; Local food; Locavores; Regenerative food system; Ethnography;


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    1. Gail Feenstra, 2002. "Creating space for sustainable food systems: Lessons from the field," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 99-106, June.
    2. Laura DeLind, 2002. "Place, work, and civic agriculture: Common fields for cultivation," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 217-224, September.
    3. Laura DeLind & Philip Howard, 2008. "Safe at any scale? Food scares, food regulation, and scaled alternatives," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 301-317, September.
    4. Robin Roff, 2007. "Shopping for change? Neoliberalizing activism and the limits to eating non-GMO," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 511-522, December.
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    Cited by:
    1. Steven Schnell, 2013. "Food miles, local eating, and community supported agriculture: putting local food in its place," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 30(4), pages 615-628, December.
    2. Brian Obach & Kathleen Tobin, 2014. "Civic agriculture and community engagement," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 307-322, June.
    3. Mundler, Patrick & Rumpus, Lucas, 2012. "The energy efficiency of local food systems: A comparison between different modes of distribution," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 609-615.


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