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Locating Value in Artisan Cheese: Reverse Engineering Terroir for New-World Landscapes



ABSTRACT Terroir, the taste of place, is being adapted by artisan cheesemakers in the United States to reveal the range of values—agrarian, environmental, social, and gastronomic—that they believe constitute their cheese and distinguish artisan from commodity production. Some see themselves as reverse engineering terroir cheeses to create place though environmental stewardship and rural economic revitalization. But a tension is produced: while warranting projects of reterritorialization through defetishized food production, terroir marketing may risk turning the concept of “terroir” into a commodity fetish. U.S. terroir talk reveals attempts to reconcile the economic and sociomoral values that producers invest in artisan cheese.