Eat Local? Constructions of Place in Alternative Food Politics



In recent years those seeking alternatives to industrialized and globalized food systems have looked beyond organic production to develop a range of alternative food networks (AFNs). Alongside these developments in sustainable food and agriculture activism, a body of literature has emerged in rural sociology, agri-food studies and human geography exploring the development of alternative food networks. This article explores some potential synergies between this literature and geographical theory surrounding space and place. Place has been identified as central to AFN discourse and efforts to localize food systems, and while the benefits of localized food systems can be accepted uncritically by activist communities and the media, important questions have been raised about the reflexivity of local food activism. This article argues that a closer engagement with place theory would help avoid the fetishized constructions of the local often present in alternative food politics. Drawing on geographical debates about place, this article demonstrates the ways in which geographical place theory could inform and develop literatures examining alternative food politics.