Get access

MAKING PIGS LOCAL: Discerning the Sensory Character of Place



This article offers an attempt to characterize the relationship between “taste” and “place” as cultivated and embodied in the production, circulation, and consumption of pasture-raised pork. I focus on the Piedmont region of North Carolina, and offer ethnographic evidence drawn from working with farmers, chefs and restaurant workers, as well as consumers at farmers’ markets to give substance to these discussions. The argument problematizes the category of “local food,” to interrogate the very notion of “place” and its many “tastes” (and other experiential qualities) with respect to the remaking and remapping of food production in the Piedmont. “Local food” is widely celebrated in this region, and pastured pork is a critical index of this “locality”; but here I ask how place itself is constituted, assigned concrete, experiential qualities, and so grasped in social practice. More than an attempt to specify the qualities of “the local” and their relationship with regional foodways, this article is concerned with the process that Lefebvre calls “the production of space.”