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A Visual Analysis of Local Food Product Framing Across Alternative and Conventional Marketspaces

Tyler E. Thorp (The University of Arizona, USA)


The complex value chain that facilitates local food production and consumption includes purveyors positioned across a range of marketspaces who through the various ways they present and sell their products help create and convey the meaning of “local food.” Limited governance within local food systems (LFSs) and a lack of consensus on the definition of “local food” provide purveyors with notable latitude in how they frame the meaning of “local” in the food products they produce, market, and sell. Consequently, the expansion of food products that are framed as being “local” within conventional marketspaces threatens to convolute the meaning and representation of local food within specific LFSs and across the broader local food movement (LFM). Here, I use a structured photo analysis design to explore the elements that influence the visual representation of “local food” by purveyors within five farmers’ markets and five grocery stores located across the Southern Arizona LFS (SALFS). I consider the farmers’ markets to be alternative marketspaces and the grocery stores to be conventional marketspaces. The data consist of 683 original photos taken of local food framing practices within the farmers’ markets and grocery stores and extensive field notes captured throughout multiple direct observations at each market space. My exploration is guided by a theoretical framework composed of constructs specific to institutional logic, product framing, and taste regimes. The findings illustrate how local food framing practices across alternative and mainstream marketspaces foster a local food taste regime that fails to convey the fundamental principles and values of the LFM. Recommendations for both practice and research are developed from the findings.



Thorp, T.E. (2022), "A Visual Analysis of Local Food Product Framing Across Alternative and Conventional Marketspaces", Mars, M.M. and Schau, H.J. (Ed.) How Alternative is Alternative? The Role of Entrepreneurial Development, Form, and Function in the Emergence of Alternative Marketscapes (Advances in the Study of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Economic Growth, Vol. 29), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 97-121.



Emerald Publishing Limited

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