Re-placing food: Place, embeddedness and local food
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Introduction We live in a digital, networked society where immaterial transactions frame many aspects of our everyday life. But in an internet of things our products and artefacts still have material presence; they have to be somewhere, they need to be physically displaced to arrive somewhere else, they cannot be easily duplicated and they have a life-cycle. All things that we consume need to travel from the place they are produced to the place in which they will be consumed. This process may cover a simple few metres or may involve thousands of miles and many weeks. In our current urbanised and globalised marketplace food is often transported extremely large distances from its origin to the place where it is sold. There has been some attempt to quantify the way in which food is part of a global marketplace through the introduction of the concept of food miles (Paxton 1994). This measures the distance food is transported from the time of its production until it reaches the market. The sheer distance in which many items commonly available in supermarkets in the developed world underlines the dis-embedded nature of globalized food system, that creates a ‘placeless foodscape’ (Ilbery and Kneafsey 2000, 319). As Gedrich & Oltersdorf point out; “the place in which the food is produced and the place in which a person lives constructs less and less the framework for the food someone consumes” (2001, 66).
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