A Visual Analysis of Local Food Taste Regime in Conventional and Unconventional Marketplaces
AdvisorMars, Matthew M.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe Local Food Movement (LFM) is composed of a complex network of actors including producers (e.g., farmers, ranchers, processors), purveyors (e.g., farmers’ market vendors, retailers, restaurateurs), organizers (e.g., farmers’ market operators, food bank administrators) and narrators (e.g., local food journalists). Limited governance within local food systems (LFSs) and a lack of consensus on the definition of ‘local food’ provide such actors with notable latitude in how they frame the meaning of ‘local’ in the products they produce, market, and sell. The expansion of food products that are framed as being local within conventional retail sites may be further convoluting the meaning and representation of local food across the disparate market sites that operate within a single LFS (e.g. community gardens, farmers’ markets, festivals, grocery stores, roadside stands, you-picks). Thus, consumers are left to sort through a variety of elements (e.g., activist, aesthetic, community, cultural, ecological, economic, health and wellness) that converge and compete to shape their understanding of local food and guide their consumption decisions. Here, I use a structured photo analysis design to explore the elements that influence the visual representation of local food within five farmers’ markets and five grocery stores within the Southern Arizona Local Food System (SALFS). The theoretical principles of institutional logics guide my identification and analysis of the beliefs, motives, practices and values that guide the framing practices and strategies of local food actors within various retail settings. Commodification, the act of turning something with intrinsic value into a exchangeable good, is used to reveal how the various elements that underpin the LFM are (or are not) being leveraged to support the representation of local food products across different retail settings. The theoretical principles of taste regimes, the concept that social groups with high levels of cultural capital have the greatest influence over the meaning and legitimacy of products within an aesthetically oriented culture of consumption, is used to analyze the similarities and differences between the representations of local food within and across the 10 retail locations. The findings illustrate how local food framing practices and strategies across conventional and unconventional retail sites foster a local food taste regime that is mostly inconsistent with the fundamental principles and values of the LFM. Recommendations for local food practitioners and further research are provided.
Degree ProgramGraduate College