Mobility, embodiment, and scales: Filipino immigrant perspectives on local food
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Local foodshed proponents in the United States seek to change the food system through campaigns to “buy local” and to rediscover “good food” in the local foodshed. Presumably, common sense dictates that the word “local” signifies spatial proximity to the consumer. For some populations, however, both the terms “local” and “local food” signify various different meanings. The local food definition generally used by scholars and activists alike as “geographically proximate food” is unhelpfully narrow. Localist rhetoric often does not incorporate the food choices and practices of immigrants, migrants, and refugees. In this paper, I report the various characterizations of local food among Filipino immigrants in San Diego, California: (1) geography-based local food; (2) (US) America-based local food; (3) community-based local food; and (4) immigrant identity-based local food. Local foodshed proponents should acknowledge those who have a starkly different definition of “local”—those who possess translocal subjectivities, for whom “local-ness” is both mobile and embodied. My study underscores how the movement of food—or its containment within a geographic space—cannot be viewed in isolation from the movement of people.
KeywordsLocal food Foodshed Immigration Mobility Scale Translocal subjectivity Embodiment Filipino
I thank Melanie DuPuis and Steve McKay for their enormous support throughout my research and writing process. I am also grateful to the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Andrew Szasz, and my spring 2010 writing group. Many thanks also go to my anonymous peer reviewers, editor-in-chief Harvey James, and copy editor Tyrone Nagai for their valuable critiques and suggestions. I definitely express my gratitude for all my informants and the members of the Filipino community in San Diego who shared their stories with me and support my work.
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