Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 225–236 | Cite as

The ghosts of taste: food and the cultural politics of authenticity



We add a political culture dimension to the debate over the politics of food. Central to food politics is the cultural granting of authenticity, experienced through the conjuring of relational presences of authorship. These presences derive from the faces and the places of relationality, what we term the ghosts of taste, by which food narratives articulate claims of the authorship of food by people and environments, and thus claim of authenticity. In this paper, we trace the often-conflicting presences of authenticating ghosts in food along a prominent axis of current debate: the local versus the global. The three cases outlined here—Greek food, Thousand Island dressing, and wild rice—illustrate the recovery and suppression of the lingering spirits of both local and global faces and places in what we taste, and show the mutually interdependent consequence of culture and economics in food politics.


Place Food Localism Food systems Agriculture Authenticity 



We would like to acknowledge the contributions of Joe LaGarde, an enrolled member of the White Earth Reservation of the Anishinaabe people.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kaelyn Stiles
    • 1
  • Özlem Altıok
    • 1
  • Michael M. Bell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Community and Environmental SociologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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