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Whose Rules Rule? Contested Projects to Certify ‘Local Production for Distant Consumers’1


  • Harriet Friedmann, Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto, Ontario M57 3K7, Canada. e-mail: Amber McNair, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto, 725 Spadina Ave., Toronto, Ontario M5S 2J4, Canada. e-mail:

  • We gratefully acknowledge funding for this research from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada and from El Programa Interinstitutcional de Estudios Sobre la Region de America Del Norte (PIERAN).

  • 1

     This is a Slow Food phrase, used by Fonte (2006).


As transnational agrifood supply chains undermine local markets and agroecosystems, farmers everywhere must adapt or find alternative connections to customers. Two projects for global agrifood relations are emerging: from above, led by supermarkets, which enforces standard norms; and an alternative from below, presently led by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, which qualifies products specific to diverse cultural/natural regions. We consider two examples of regional certification: the Cojote Rojo ecolabel which arose in the context of recent expansion of export avocado production in the highlands of Michoacán, Mexico; and Local Food Plus, a regional label designed to promote public institutional purchases as a route to get regional products into markets in Ontario, Canada. We suggest that many experiments in re-embedding agriculture are emerging in interstices of the dominant system in both North and South. These agrarian social movements are less visible than resistance movements and anticipate a possible future based on global interconnections among diverse farming systems embedded in their cultural and natural contexts.