29 October 2013Posted: October 29, 2013
Fish trader, Hietalahti Market Hall, Helsinki Finland
I want to make a point about ‘practical’ knowledge . This is about how traditional skills and knowledge of food are devalued in concentrated retail chains of supermarkets –as technical knowledge and the implementation of food safety standards, threaten to take the place of human knowledge and experience. Market traders ‘know’ about food because they have been handling it for so long (literally) – and it’s knowledge that has frequently been passed down through the generations of market trading that has, up to now, often run in families; on the traditional market, many shoppers also rely on traders’ culturally-informed fresh food sourcing knowledge.
Of course, it’s not possible to re-invent the past, but the ability to integrate this knowledge about food with the development of urban food systems seems crucial to me. We need to have a relationship with, and knowledge of, food that is more than just about price, convenience, quantity and standardized quality.