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From the farm to the plate: discourse and perceptions of local food in Humboldt County, CA

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Title: From the farm to the plate: discourse and perceptions of local food in Humboldt County, CA
Author: Miles, Elizabeth Vera
Abstract: There are many obstacles involving access to local food that hinder the expansion of local food systems. One obstacle that is discussed in current literature is the perception that local food is more expensive than global food and therefore inaccessible to those who cannot afford it. I explore the extent to which this perception is a barrier to the expansion and growth of the local food system in one small agriculturally oriented community in northern California. Those individuals unfamiliar with the local food system often rely on more familiar outlets of the global food systems such as corporate grocers. This research focuses on the discourse surrounding local food in Humboldt County, California, and reveals the negative perceptions that discourage people from buying local food over other available options. With its expansive local food system Humboldt County is an exceptional research area for studying how and why a local food system operates, and what barriers there are in an area that has an extensive local food supply. A constructivist framework embedded within grounded theory was used to reveal the perceptions of the community. I conducted surveys and semi-structured interviews with Humboldt County residents, composed a literature analysis of academic studies regarding local food, and created a local food price analysis. This study revealed that the obstacles to the expansion of the local food system in Humboldt County include issues of price, accessibility, and inconvenience. The benefits of local food were also explored and include increased flavor and freshness of produce, healthy food, and support for local economies. This regional study of the common perceptions and realities of the local food systems in Humboldt County could serve as a framework for other regions or counties interested in finding out if perceptions of food (in terms of price and accessibility) can affect involvement in local food markets. This thesis can be a useful framework for future researchers that wish to uncover the discourse surrounding local food markets in similar areas, and has the potential to be used to combat any negative myths that may be keeping community members from buying locally, therefore serving as a prelude to increasing local economies by promoting local food systems.
Description: Thesis (M.A.)--Humboldt State University, Social Science: Environment and Community Program, 2011
Date: 2011-05

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  • Masters Theses [874]
    A collection of selected Masters Theses in electronic format.

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