10 November 2013Posted: November 10, 2013
I want to make a point about ‘ambiguous’ local food. By this I mean where ‘local’ has two distinct meanings. It designates food that is grown locally, but it is also used to evoke local or regional traditions. For example, some market traders transport ‘local’ produce to trade on markets in other regions; one fruit and vegetable trader in Newcastle, UK told me: ‘I’m going up to Scotland tomorrow and it has to be Scottish for them. Even if the Scottish strawberries are more expensive than the English ones, they will take the Scottish ones first.’
In contrast, market traders selling fruit and vegetables in the agricultural area of Cambridge, UK are more inclined to refer to the local area when talking about local food as they discuss their concerns about the decline in local growers. One of these traders said, ‘years ago the little growers would grow on their allotment or a few acres of strawberries here and there and would supply the local market. But those growers are no longer there.‘
So there are clear differences between market traders in more rural agricultural regions, like Cambridge, who rely on locally produced food – and others, who transport ‘local’ food to other regions, like those traders I met near Newcastle, who hope to make a sale by evoking local or regional traditions.