Knowledge, Food and Place. A Way of Producing, a Way of Knowing
This article examines the dynamics of knowledge in the valorisation of local food, drawing on the results from the CORASON project (A ‘cognitive approach to rural sustainable development the dynamics of expert and lay knowledge’). It is based on the analysis of several in-depth case studies on food relocalisation carried out in 10 European countries (Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Germany, Norway, Poland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Greece). In the different fields of rural studies (rural sociology, geography, anthropology) there is currently a wide debate about the relocalisation of food production and consumption. Born out of a critique of the ‘conventionalisation’ of organic agriculture, attention to local food has grown in recent years to assume the features of a new orthodoxy or paradigm that is now undergoing, as is suitable to any orthodoxy, deep and critical scrutiny. Many points are discussed, from the definition of ‘local’ to its transformative role in the current agri-food system and rural community, whether relocalisation of food is a sustainable strategy and whether its character is radical or merely reformist. The perspective adopted here, which is relatively neglected in the literature, derives from the overall focus of CORASON on the role of knowledge in rural development. We look at the valorisation of local food as a knowledge-based practice that mobilises the various forms of knowledge embodied in both rural and non-rural actors. Following knowledge in the valorisation of food leads us to differentiate between patterns of food relocalisation across Europe and to analyse the interplay among knowledge forms and actors in the contested construction of the local food project.