Boutique food producers at the Detroit Eastern Market: the complex identities of authentic food
Eastern Market in Detroit is one of the oldest, continuously working public markets in the United States. Starting in 2006, the management changed and the market underwent a round of renovations. Since then, the Eastern Market Corporation (EMC) has worked to increase the number of stands selling value-added food at the market. Following the EMC’s lead, the new vendors sell their fare in boutique style, putting specific care in the setup of the stands and in the visual and oral narratives they use. Their presentation of food quality emphasizes craftsmanship and cultural values more than affordability or provenance. The interplay between these vendors and the EMC management point to two worlds identified by convention theory: domestic and market. The work of boutique food producers at Eastern Market manifests a composite arrangement between the domestic and market worlds where the authenticity of the products and regard for the customers are composite principles that solidify the compromise.
KeywordsDetroit Eastern Market Boutique food producers Convention theory Authenticity Food qualities
Eastern market corporation
Special thanks go to Craig K. Harris and Larry Busch for their ongoing support and the many meaningful critiques and conversation that helped me while researching and writing this paper. The article also benefited a great deal from the insights of two anonymous reviewers, to whom I’m thankful. Special thanks to the vendors at Eastern Market and to the EMC managements for their time.
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