, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 549-562
Date: 14 Feb 2014

Wisconsin’s “Happy Cows”? Articulating heritage and territory as new dimensions of locality

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In this article, we suggest that attending to the roles of heritage and territory could help reshape local food systems in the US: first, by incorporating more producer voices and visions into the conversation; and second, by considering more deeply the characteristics of the places where food is produced. Using the Wisconsin artisanal cheese network as a case study, we have traced how artisanal producers frame their collective heritage and links to their territory. They describe a heritage that includes a cultivation of embedded, “situated” agricultural knowledge(s) and a commitment to specific quality practices as well as a connection to terroir—the specific ecologies and social contexts of their farm or region. We argue that their articulation of this heritage and terroir is both an emergent, ongoing process of adapting to changing market, cultural, and geographic conditions and an effort to recover valued traditions and practices and (re)connect to specific places.