Food and Social Movement Discourse
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?
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?
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