Last minute session on theorizing “local food”

Several of us are proposing a session a the last minute on theorizing
“local food”.  The draft session abstract is below.  If you think you may
be interested, please send a note to  Note, though
that I will be out of email range until Sunday afternoon but I’ll respond
as soon as I can.  Thank you, John

“Local food” is generating tremendous interest, action, and research among
large numbers of people across the country; but, why?  Although most explanations center on higher quality food, sustainability, improved access, improvement of local and regional economies and a host of other practical reasons, “local food” is a nebulous concept fraught with contradictions and tensions for example: producers vs. consumers; elite vs. food for the masses; competition and lack of collaboration. Nonetheless, most popular accounts tend to depict efforts to promote eating locally as a practical process limited by straightforward logistical and economic
constraints.  In this session, we aim to engender both a broader and a more
nuanced understanding of the activism and institutional innovation at work
in the effort to build local food systems. In other words, we want to open
the lens to highlight the bases and expressions of those contradictions and
tensions, as well as their negotiation, stalemating and ongoing
irresolution. We are particularly interested in the ways activists and
analysts have drawn upon theory to frame and make sense of the manifold
social processes embedded in “local food.” The papers in this session
theorize complexities of local food drawing upon and pointing to a variety
of relevant anthropological perspectives, e.g., moral economy, cultural
production, cultural politics, identity formation, envisioning new
realities, space and place, building and feeding “communities,” alternative
economies, and social movements theory.

John Brett
Department of Anthropology
University of Colorado Denver

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