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American Ethnologist

Configuring the authentic value of real food: Farm-to-fork, snout-to-tail, and local food movements

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ABSTRACT

The partibility of pigs and the circulation of their parts—from snout to tail, as the popular culinary phrase puts it—are routinely celebrated in communities committed to eating “local.” In this article, I explore how different kinds of totalities are configured in the practices of such “locavore” actors with respect to pigs and pork. Approaches as varied as Sausseurean structuralism, functionalist sociology, and actor network theory characterize their objects of inquiry as totalities constituted by relationships among component parts. So too the totalities in relationships forged via pigs become (mis)aligned with the totality of pigs as embodied, complex organisms. Such wholes from parts reveal the overdetermination (or fetishization) of the “connections” (between farmers and consumers, chefs and diners, humans and animals) extolled by “local food” actors.

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