ERIC Number: EJ796041
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jul
Reference Count: N/A
Unpacking the Terms of Engagement with Local Food at the Farmers' Market: Insights from Ontario
Smithers, John; Lamarche, Jeremy; Joseph, Alun E.
Journal of Rural Studies, v24 n3 p337-350 Jul 2008
Amidst much discussion of the values and venues of local food, the Farmers' Market (FM) has emerged as an important, but somewhat uncertain, site of engagement for producers, consumers and local food "champions". Despite the evident certainty of various operational rules, the FM should be seen as a complex and ambiguous space where (contingent) notions of local, quality, authenticity and legitimacy find expression in communications and transactions around food. This paper seeks to extend current reflections on the nature of the contemporary FM and its relationship to the tenets of local food. An empirical analysis involving sellers, shoppers and managers at 15 markets in the Province of Ontario, Canada sought to understand how participants "read" the market as an operating space and subsequently construct the terms of (their) engagement. Findings suggest that Ontario FM customers wish to support farmers and farming via their food-related spending and express attachments to a wide range of alleged benefits pertaining to local food. Yet these values are also malleable in their meaning and amenable to trade-off against other considerations--particularly where social capital is concerned. The notion of "local" emerges as being widely valued but also highly interpretive in its meaning and variable in its absolute importance. The paper concludes with some reflection on the degree to which the findings support, challenge or modify current normative beliefs about local food at the FM.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada