Being a "Local Hero": An Ethnography of the Local Food System/Movement in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts



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In the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, it is easy to discern the importance of local agriculture and food to the local community. Cars and businesses exclaim messages such as, “Be a Local Hero,” and “We Support Local Agriculture.” Vast stretches of farmland and a long list of locally owned businesses inundate the region. Why is local food such an important staple in this community? What does it mean to be “local,” and subsequently, to “be a local hero”? What sort of beliefs, ideologies and practices contribute to how the concept of “local” is constructed and embodied? What is the range of their manifestations, and how is this range of commitment shaped by larger forces such as industrialization, capitalism and corporatism? My senior thesis, "Being a 'Local Hero': An Ethnography of the Pioneer Valley's Local Food System," uses ethnographic research methods to explore various dynamics of the local food system in the Pioneer Valley. These dynamics include ideologies of industrial opposition, 'local' as a continuum, producer-consumer connection, and aspects of the food system's political economy.



local, food, anthropology, ethnography