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Food and Social Movement Discourse

2014 July 1

I spent last semester abroad at the University of Leicester in Leicester, England. Besides being the place that King Richard’s skeleton was found, the only thing that Leicester is famous for is its marketplace—the largest covered market in England. While this seemed unimpressive as I read about it online, my view changed completely after I experienced my first grocery shop there. From wall to wall, the market was filled with different vendors selling fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, herbs, grains… and everything else I might have forgotten. And the amazing this was, everything that was sold was completely fresh, brought in early that morning on a truck from a local farm. Seeing fish on ice and chickens hanging upside down was definitely a shock at first, but something I grew to love. I did my grocery shopping there every week, and began to form relationships with the merchants, and knew who sold the best fruit, or where I could find the cheapest potatoes. Needless to say, it was a completely different experience than shopping at a Walmart.

Have you ever been to a local market?

Where do you normally buy your groceries?

When you are grocery shopping have you ever looked to see where your steaks came from? Or looked at the stickers on oranges listing its place of growth?

 

Does it ever seem weird to you that you can buy strawberries in winter, even when they are out of season?4064707608_750_leicester-market-welcome

The reason I expanded on this experience is because the reading for today by DuPuis and Goodman, concentrates on local food systems and their role in our society. Although the United States does have farmer markets, they are much less of a norm than within other countries in the world. My experience in England can be matched by others that I had in Budapest, Florence, and Vienna—local markets selling local food. While local markets are normally associated with notions such as organic foods, or healthy meal options, local food systems can also be seen as influential factors on the governing principles of our local, national, and global systems. Shockingly enough, the food industry has an enormous impact on how the world’s economy is set up. According to the authors, the modern day food system has helped create globalization and global capitalism, but it can also become the solution; creating a “more democratic or transcommunal” society if implemented correctly. (361).

This globalization process was created through the exportation and important of food products from around the world. A global food market thus created a global economic market—diminishing a “local” market. The global world we live in now measures power in space and time—if a company can export oranges from Florida to England overnight, then: 1. Products are being bought 2. Profits are being made 3. Consumers are happy. While this seems like perfect situation for all parties involved, it is actually a lose-lose scenario for the local community where the products are being bought. In this example, England loses out because: 1. in season British products aren’t being bought 2. Profits are being lost to outside competitors 3. Consumers’ money will stimulate the economy in Florida rather than England.

While the purchasing of oranges might not seem to be a big deal, the reading for today explains that it actually is. Local markets as opposed to grocery stores that import and export products is seen as a “counter to global power” because it creates local power (361). Take my example above. If we reconstruct it to read: Oranges are grown on Florida farms and are taken to markets in surrounding communities and sold at markets there, than every outcome turns out well. Consumers are receiving local products, grown in season, and their purchases will help stimulate the local economy that they live in.

While this is a very simplistic view of what DuPuis and Goodman are arguing, it’s important to remember that there is no easy way to implement more localized food suppliers because are external issues such as social class and politics that affect its success.

Is it even possible for the world to “shrink” and become more localized?

Do you think that Americans would be able to accept a more localized food source, especially if that meant fewer choices and less convenience?

Do you think that the global market we live in now is sustainable? Or do you think a change has to be made?

 

16 Responses leave one →
  1. Frank Saunders III permalink
    July 1, 2014

    I doubt America would ever be able to accept a more localized food source. Convenience will never be compromised. The average American works a 9-5 job and goes through the daily grind to support themselves and their families. Come 2 o’clock, and most everyone can agree, the only thing one wants to do is get off work and do absolutely nothing; this is where convenience comes in. Unless these local food markets are ‘conveniently’ on the commute home from work, most patrons will not even bother going out of their way to get fresh poultry and produce to cook for themselves when they can stop at the Food Lion 30 seconds away from their house.

    With that being said, I don’t exactly agree with DuPuis and Goodman and their thoughts on local markets being a ‘counter to global power.’ These food markets are set up to get the fresh, local produce and meat out to the local community. The farmers who supply to these local markets are working to provide for themselves, and those who support these local markets are likely buying from major super markets as well. The super markets are there for convenience, and for the products that a local market doesn’t have. In no way do I feel like a local food market is a ‘counter to global power’ in any way. The supermarkets will still be there for the average consumer, conveniently buying food on their way home from work.

  2. Maggie Roth permalink
    July 1, 2014

    I think what DuPuis and Goodman are arguing (which I probably didn’t clearly state) is that local markets allow for local communities to have more immediate control over their own economy without relying as much on outside sources to bring in crops or food products.

    I don’t think Walmart or Food Lion etc. will ever go away from our society, and neither do the authors, but I think what they are arguing is that the food brought into these stores should be sourced locally rather than internationally. A local food market is more an example of how the European food system has tried to localize their products–obviously the United States’ system is set up completely different, which would require different arrangements in order to implement a more local source.

    When I said convenience what I meant was in regards to not having 7 different types of grapes to chose from, rather only having the one that is the most locally grown. Or another example would be not being able to buy strawberries in the winter, since they don’t grow in the United States in the winter and are imported from other countries.
    This article was not about destroying the “grocery story” society we live in now, it was merely about changing how the grocery store is stocked.

    • Charlotte Harnad permalink
      July 1, 2014

      I do agree that WalMart and Food Lion will never completely go away. There such a large investment within our society and economy that I do not think it will ever be possible for those corporations to completely die out. However, I think that with the country’s growing concern with local food and health as a whole, the demand for local and healthy food will increase. I think that WalMart and other large chains will start to orient towards their individual market a little more as time goes on ebacuse the demand will go up and they will begin to lose business. Sadly, I do not think that they will ever become increasingly concerned with healthy food as long as they are getting money and their customers keep coming back for more.

      I think that it is great you clarified that you are not arguing for no grocery stores, just arguing for more local food. Living in specific climates, there are some areas and times of the year where you cannot live alone on the foods that are available to you locally. It becomes difficult to have complete diets consist of local food in harsh climates or during rough times of the year. Having a grocery store serves as a supply of constant food, but for the health of the population as well as the food system, market places are definitely where people need to begin navigating towards.

      • Lindsay Kagalis permalink
        July 2, 2014

        I think you have a great point Charlotte about differing climates and the toll that may have on the food products that are available. I also agree that many places, especially like Walmart and Food Lion, will be continue to be of great convenience and use, but it would benefit the majority of people to see more local products being introduced in these places as well as more attention and advertisement of local food markets that are in town. I hope that more and more places can have the same perspective on food markets as Harrisonburg does, because it is one of the few outdoor markets that I know to have vendors year-round. If more and more markets began to extend their selling periods, I’m sure it would be extremely beneficial to many people in communities.

  3. Carolyn Girondo permalink
    July 1, 2014

    Great post Maggie! Ah I love farmers markets!! Sadly, I do not get to go enough. In Harrisonburg it was easier and pretty convenient but I haven’t found one like that in NYC yet. I know there are some and I’m so inspired now to try to keep my shopping there. Right now I live across the street from a grocery store called Food Bazaar in Brooklyn. It’s definitely not local, most things are even specified on the signs like the Mexican avocados I bought yesterday. This place is definitely convenient but I like to explore so I’m definitely going to try to make my next trip to the local farmers market- I’ll post pics! I have to agree with Frank that the average American isn’t going to give up convenience and comfort to shop local. I think it is unsustainable and until we are forced to change most people won’t.

    • Alina Clark permalink
      July 3, 2014

      Carolyn, that’s so cool that you get to explore a new city and find all new niche places to go to! I agree with you that as of now the local food market is unsustainable, and therefore it’s not realistic to expect the US to begin a movement like this, at least not all at once. I also think that the price issue is worth mentioning…some people can’t even afford Mexican avocados, let alone local one. Which is exactly why everyone should have a gardenn!!!!!!! :D

  4. Charlotte Harnad permalink
    July 1, 2014

    Maggie, I loved your opening paragraph! I am actually studying abroad in the fall in London so I must DEFINITELY check out the Leicester Marketplace! It sounds incredible to see all of the fresh food in one place, especially in England or any other foreign place that is out of the norm for grocery shopping. Going to authentic markets is such a cool experience and it really opens your eyes to all the different kinds of food. I know when my dad and I went to Sweden and saw the enormous Östermalm Food Hall in Stockholm it really blew my mind about how wide of a variety of food there was in such a small concentrated space. I have found that all of the places that I have travelled throughout Europe are also very concerned with their food and have similar markets, and fresh food is easily accessible.

    I try to go to local markets and local-oriented places to eat as much as possible. I actually try to go to Let’s Go on campus multiple times a week because they guarantee that all of their food is from local farms and even has a map of the different locations it is from. I have been exposed to local/fresh/organic food from a young age. We have a garden, orchard, and multiple farms all around us. Ever since I was little I remember going to the farmers market with my dad, touring local farms, stopping at local produce stands and Holloway Corn. Our neighbors raise pigs and goats, so we buy a hog from them, our neighbors raise it, and then we get all of the meat from it. I have tried to carry over as many healthy and local food habits as possible. I have found that this is relatively easy in Harrisonburg because there are a lot of small stores, local farms, and farmers markets that are really good at keeping one oriented at maintaining a fresh and local diet. All of these little daily habits have also made me really label-conscious, as well as curious/wanting to know exactly where my food came from.

    I really like what you say about globalization and how you tie in the rest of the world and then compare it to America. I think that our country was established and grew so quickly that convenience began to overtake the quality of food and food systems that are seen in Europe. I think that there is beginning to be a shift towards local food (or it could just be all of my friends are incredibly health-oriented). Convenience is seen all around the nation and all across the board. We have begun to prioritize fast and convenient over fresh and higher quality, which is starting to become detrimental to the health of the American population. I think that with compliance and time America can start to be more local-oriented with their food systems, I just think that it will be prevented for a little while due to ignorance, funds, willing parties, and other various factors.

    • Brooklyn Steele permalink
      July 3, 2014

      Charlotte,
      It’s so interesting how different markets and foods are at different places. I would love to see all the different farmers markets around the world. I also was exposed to fresh foods when I was young. My grandparents have always had a huge garden with lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. When I go to the store I hate even buying those vegetables and fruits because they don’t taste as good and I also don’t know where they are coming from and how they were grown.

  5. Maggie Roth permalink
    July 1, 2014

    Ah Charlotte, you definitely need to go! Leicester is only an hour away on the train, and its a cool place to check out- But you will have AMAZING markets in London. I went to a bunch all over the city. Camden has the absolute coolest one, so if anything please, please go there :) You’re going to have an amazing time, I am so jealous!

    I completely agree with your view that America just grew too fast to sustain a culture that appreciated less convenient, localized lifestyles. I think the changes that everyone is talking about will take place during our lifetime, so it will be interesting to see if there is still Walmart in 50 years time…

    As cliche as it sounds, we can make a difference, so as soon as consumers start demanding local food and less imported crops, than the sooner the system will change to meet our wants.

  6. Lindsay Kagalis permalink
    July 1, 2014

    Maggie, especially in regards to your last question, I do not think that they way our global market it set up is sustainable for the people. Especially because there’s so many products that are now being labelled “organic” but are still being shipped and processed for months at a time and travelling all over the globe before simply landing in a Walmart or Food Lion shelf. I fully support local food movements, and as I have mentioned in many comments, I never shop at Food Lion or Walmart unless I’m purchasing beer or wine, which sounds absolutely horrible haha. Anyways, I really want to support the local community and I am actually in a program for leadership here at JMU that has been trying to get students more involved with downtown and the businesses that Harrisonburg and other local communities have to offer. It’s so important to me to give back and to support the community that I am staying at.

    With that said, I normally spend my money for groceries either at the Farmers Market (I’m ECSTATIC that it is open on Tuesday’s and Saturday’s now) and then the Co-Op if I can’t make it there. I personally don’t eat meat, but I went to the market last weekend and thought it was amazing that I saw many more vendors there selling local beef and pork. On the other hand, it’s really interesting to me that people turn away locally source food products because they think they taste “nasty” compared to what they buy at Walmart. To me, it’s a no brainer, no wonder it tastes different because there aren’t pesticides or flavor boosters in the food that you are buying because that’s really what it is supposed to taste like. I’ve especially seen that with my sister, who tried locally sourced beef, hated it because she said it tasted to “gamy” then went right back to buy beef that was known to be injected with boosters and hormones simply because she preferred that taste.

    Going into my last point, I think it is possible for the United States to have more locally sourced food products, but it would definitely involved a huge transitionary period. Especially because like peopled have mentioned, convenience has been a major part of “being American”. However, we can already begin to see a transition to eating healthier, supporting local communities, and trying to be active. Citizens have begun to notice that there is a negative impact from solely purchasing from huge corporations that sell products where you don’t even know half of the ingredients. Personally, I believe the best way to make American citizens begin to have more localized food purchases, they need to be better educated on local and organic food products and they need to have the exposure and learning experience of how to prepare the food or even how easy it is to grow many of these products at home.

  7. Stephen Klier II permalink
    July 2, 2014

    Great article. Personally, I love the Harrisonburg Farmers Market at Turner Pavilion. It really starts your Saturday off well to go shop from local vendors and local farms. I’m not so into the local food movement, mainly because I can’t taste the difference between a Harrisonburg peach and a Georgia peach so its all the same to me, plus I think the culture surrounding “local” is uneducated and existent because it is trendy. That being said, what I can tell is how much fresher my food is when I buy it from the farmer’s market. All of the veggies I buy there out live walmart produce by almost double, which is important when I am only feeding 1.

    The local source movement will take years and years to become viable to Americans. The generation ahead of us doesn’t care about anything but convenience and a small, educated number of our generation care. Americans value their time. For me, going to walmart to buy chips and sodas and beer and poptarts then going to the farmers market on a Saturday morning to buy fruits and vegetables is no big deal because I have the time to do all that. My parents would never think of making 2 stops to get what they could just get at one supermarket though. It is that mentality that will cripple the local foods movement.

  8. Alina Clark permalink
    July 3, 2014

    Great post, I happen to love the farmers market in Harrisonburg and I also sometimes grocery shop at the Friendly Food Co-Op, where they sell a lot of local products. I completely agree with the points that you made about producing and selling locally from an economic standpoint, and its a shame that that’s not more common. That being said however, I do enjoy being able to select from a variety of produce any time of the year at the normal grocery store, and so my opinion as a whole of the local foods movement remains split.

    The prospect of being able to buy strawberries in the winter is strange only from the local foods perspective. But it’s not winter everywhere, and so there are places where strawberries are in season – these strawberries are sent to us. When it comes to variety: grocery store > local. I think the reason why it is hard for the United States to become more localized in the grocery stores is because it runs a huge risk for business.

    As a business major, during COB300 we were relentlessly taught that one of the central keys to a successful business is to have WHAT the customer wants WHEN they want it. And so from a business perspective, if one grocery store sells local in season products, the customer that wants strawberries in the winter is going to shop at the grocery store across the street. And in the grocery store business most people don’t hop around – they shop at one and that’s it. So in essence they are losing that customer’s business for life [more or less]. This is too great a risk for these companies.

    • Stephen Klier II permalink
      July 3, 2014

      Now that I read your comment I realize that I have very similar habits. I go to stores that have everything that I need so I dont have to wander Harrisonburg looking for a special can of tomato sauce. In those instances when recipes call for fruits or vegetables, I need them and I dont care if they are local and in season.

  9. Robert Bamsey permalink
    July 4, 2014

    Personally, I tend to shop at Food Lion, but not really by choice. Food Lion is the most economical place for me to shop, the location and prices are perfect for me. But, I wish I made more of an effort to get my produce and such at the markets. Places like Food Lion will have those strawberries even out of season, which is pretty confusing. When I see that, I already know that all of the produce in Food Lion is genetically modified and grown in big farms in other countries, so I essentially know the quality will be low and price. It is disappointing to not be able to shop in the open air food market downtown but the prices at the big chain stores are too attractive. The globalization of food has led to smaller prices, but little quality.

  10. Robert Bamsey permalink
    July 4, 2014

    I definitely go to stores like Wal mart and Food Lion because they have everything but at a cheap price. It does feel a little weird to buy strawberries in winter, but knowing that they are mass produced and genetically modified already helps me come to terms with what I am doing. The globalization of food has led to poor quality but large quantities of food being distributed and thats what you get at stores like Food Lion and Walmart. For quality, the more expensive local markets are definitely the way to go, although I don’t get to shop there much, when I do, I can definitely see a difference in quality.

  11. Robert Bamsey permalink
    July 4, 2014

    I definitely go to stores like Walmart and Food Lion because they have everything but at a cheap price. It does feel a little weird to buy strawberries in winter, but knowing that they are mass produced and genetically modified already helps me come to terms with what I am doing. The globalization of food has led to poor quality but large quantities being distributed and that’s what you get at stores like Food Lion and Walmart. For quality, the more expensive local markets are definitely the way to go, although I don’t get to shop there much, when I do, I can definitely see a difference in quality. If I need strawberries in the winter though, Walmart is the place to go.

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