Food Regimes, Consumption and Identities
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Food regimes, consumption and identities

Sociological analyses are crucial for understanding the organization of food production, sales and consumption and the interplay of these elements. Recent developments in food regimes in relation to environmental sustainability, food related diseases, nutrition, climate change, energy supply, social and cultural stability as well as local regional development is questioning existing ways of understanding the identities and interactions of the actors in food regimes.

We invite contributions that address food regimes from any angle. This may include macro- as well as micro level aspects, disruptions of food related identities, or new regimes for organizing food production, sales and consumption.


Egon Noe, Steffen Korsgaard and Chris Kjeldsen: Food-regime(s) at a crossroad: The future of present and future of Danish food.

Food production and consumption in Denmark stands at a crossroad. Multiple conflicting developments and logic point in radically different directions, and the pressures of globalization are making the tensions even more present and solutions more pressing. Danish agriculture has excelled in creating an industrialized food-regime, based on Northern European values of hygiene and homogeneity. Yet, pressures of global competition, outsource of processing in the food chain and of input factors, increasing environmental pressure, and issues of animal welfare and disease control consumer trends focusing on quality and uniqueness are questioning this logic. Different development pathways ahead seems possible, to exceed this interlock. One is the high technology pathway, mainly focusing on adding values trough advance biotechnologies in food processing, widely seen as a way to revitalize the industrialized food-regime. Another one is an organic pathway primary focusing on an environmental sustainable use o f natural resources, and low-tech processing technologies close to the natural.   However new pathways seem to appear also in a Danish context.  Nordic food and Nordic chefs are enjoying somewhat more than fifteen minutes of fame with a new interpretation of Nordic produce in combination with state of the art cooking techniques. The New Nordic food trend emphasizes the uniqueness of local Nordic terroirs and presses for less industrialized production, in a manner not entirely unlike the organics movement. Creating localized food systems with direct contact with costumers, mostly bypassing, but occasionally integrating with supermarkets based distribution. Finally, local and grassroots inspired food producers are beginning to take matters into their own hands. Optimistic policy makers dream of food as a new export success for Denmark, yet this seems to entail a transformation of the traditional food production in Denmark.

Albeit this optimism of it seems like the neo-industrialized agricultural food-regime is able to steer policy and resource allocation in the direction of their development pathway. In this presentation we will discuss how they can continue this hegemony and is able to steer resource allocation and legislation in relation to investment I future development pathways albeit all the negative consequences and albeit the strong public focus on alternative development pathways of the food-regimes in Denmark.

Notes: Themes for the analyses:

  • Allocation of research grants (GUDP): entrepreneurship supporting high tech
  • The hegemony of supermarket chains and their factors of competition
  • The huge investment in industrialized production.
  • The strong believe in rationalization of production and processing (cooperatives)
  • Culture of treating all farmers equal (cooperative)
  • The fragmentation of the different concerns in relation to food chains: health, environment, climate change, nature conservation, energy production, rural development etc

Chris Kjeldsen and Egon Noe: How is local food ’local’? An inquiry into the spatiality of local food

The evolution of modern  societies is distinguished by increasing functional differentiation of various human activity systems. This has also been the case regarding agro-food systems. Functional differentiation have also been followed

by spatial differentiation. Food is produced as well as consumed  in distinct places, when analysed as distinct phenomena of their own. But when the processes

which take place between  the consumer and the producer  is taken into account, a much more complex picture emerges. Modern producer-consumer networks can be characterized  as complex relational networks which spans across multiple temporal and spatial scales. Agro-food studies have dealt extensively with the consequences regarding time-space distanciation of producer-consumer relations. Examples include phenomena such as food scares (Jackson 2010; de Krom 2008; Stassart & Whatmore  2003) and consumer distrust (DeLind & Howard 2008; de Krom 2008; Lockie 2006). One of the themes which are prominent  within these studies is, that food is an ambivalent phenomenon: it is a source of nutrition, a source of meaning, but also a source of anxiety, risk and alienation. These factors might help explain the emergence of alternatives to the conventional  food system during the past 20 years. One of the significant alternatives have been local and regional food, which occupies  an increasing share on the food market in most Western countries. Local food is not just ‘local’ as many different socio-spatial practices organized around the notion of ‘local’ food can be identified. Today, even large retailers as Wal-Mart tries to brand themselves as local food vendors (DeLind 2011). Even though Wal-Mart is organized in a very different manner

than for example peri-urban farms selling on local markets in the urban fringe, both utilize notions of what constitutes ‘local’.

The present paper is an inquiry into how local food is ‘local’. How can it be characterized?  Which configurations of social and economic  practices are performed  under the label ‘local food’? The paper is based on an analytical framework, which distinguishes between  different approaches  to local food. Approaches range from local food being approached as place-based community development, where discourse is centered on the notion of ‘food within place’, as well as other discourses centered  on the emerging market for ‘alternative food’. Other approaches  include discourses of local food as part of sustainable regional economy, e.g. rural eco-economy.  These distinctive approaches  can be identified across a broad range of approaches  to local food in both North American and European studies of local food. Each of these approaches emphasize different aspects regarding the social, economical  and environmental consequences of different modalities of local food. It is argued in the last sections of the paper, that there is a need for aligning the different approaches.  This might help point

towards a more integrated  and balanced  conceptualization of sustainable progress can be made regarding the social, economical and environmental consequences of local food initiatives. The analysis will use case studies of different ‘alternative’ Danish food networks to illustrate the practical and theoretical implications of this understanding.


de Krom, M. P. M. M. 2008. Understanding  Consumer  Rationalities: Consumer Involvement in European Food Safety Governance of Avian Influenza. Sociologia Ruralis 49 (1):1-19.

DeLind, L. 2011. Are local food and the local food movement  taking us where we want to go? Or are we hitching our wagons to the wrong stars? Agriculture and Human Values 28 (2):273-283.

DeLind, L. B. & P. H. Howard. 2008. Safe at any scale? Food scares, food regulation, and scaled alternatives. Agriculture and Human Values 25 (3):301-317.

Jackson, P. 2010. Food stories: consumption  in an age of anxiety. Cultural Geographies 17 (2):147-165.

Lockie, S. 2006. Capturing the sustainability agenda: Organic foods and media discourses on food scares, environment,  genetic engineering, and health. Agriculture and Human Values 23 (3):313-323.

Stassart, P. & S. J. Whatmore.  2003. Metabolising risk: food scares and the un/re-making of

Belgian beef. Environment and Planning A 35 (3):449-462.

Steffen Korsgaard and Egon Noe: In the engine room of localization: The entrepreneur in the new rural landscapes

The rural landscapes of the western world have been radically changing in the past decades. Agricultural production no longer defines rural landscapes and rural landscapes are becoming increasingly heterogeneous. Multiple actors are driving the changes in the rural: farmers engaging in new activities, local, national and supranational policy makers, returnees and in-migrants engage in new activities in the face of general – albeit unevenly distributed decline in population, capital and services.

In the many research streams trying to come to grips with the changes in the rural landscape the “entrepreneur” is a recurring figure; typically seen as a change agent of new economic activities, often cast in the role of astute businessman seeking short term profit. While this resonates to some extent with the tradition of the entrepreneurship field, this view is problematic in several respects. Firstly, it is empirically incomplete, in so far as entrepreneurs when studied at the micro-level appear to be creators rather than appropriators or exploiters of value. Secondly, it loses sight of the multiple types of value created by entrepreneurs. And thirdly, it fails to create a synergy by integrating insight from the entrepreneurship research on the processes of value creation, with the deep understanding of context and place offered by research on regional development and rural sociology.

In this paper we argue that entrepreneurs play a multi-facetted role in the on-going change of the rural landscapes. We explore the entrepreneurial roles through a multiple case study of food-entrepreneurs in rural Denmark. The study uses interviews and secondary data to focus on the way in which entrepreneurs leverage localized resources to create multiple types of value.

Preliminary analyses suggest that rural entrepreneurs can be seen as “place builders”. The concept of place building, as inductively generated, entails several elements including: value creation, creating local linkages, creating non-local linkages, commodification and re-creation of a sense of place.

The study shows promise of enhancing our knowledge of rural change as well as entrepreneurship. It adds to our knowledge of how localized entrepreneurs create change in rural landscapes, through recombination of localized resources. Yet, it also adds sorely need knowledge of how entrepreneurial activities are enabled and constrained by their immediate spatial environment.

Martin Thorsøe: Understanding food regimes as networks of value relations

Value is a key concept for understanding food regimes, because values determine what actors perceive as good/bad or right/wrong. At the same time value is a loose concept, widely used and with various meanings in different scientific perspectives, in which ontological difference produces different perceptions of what value is. There are three main perspectives to understanding how values arise, are absorbed and mediated in a food network, 1) values placed with the subjects (e.g. Convention Theory), 2) values placed with the object (e.g. Behaviorism) and 3) values placed in the relation between subject and object (e.g. ANT and Economic theory). In my presentation I will focus on the last of these and discuss how values arise, are absorbed and mediated in the food networks from a relational perspective. The analysis will function as a part of my PhD project on values and knowledge in organic food networks. I will thus also discuss the relation between knowledge and values in a network context and how a network analysis can be adapted to manage the complex concept of values.

Sascha Qvortrup: Good cooking

This article focuses on texts that talk about good cooking and the identification of the foodscape (Dolphin,  2004) of good and right eating. I study good cooking as a topic of conversation and of online dialogues. Food is a negotiated concrete action as well as a symbolic interaction with the enviroment (Counihan, 1999). Food is a negotiation of health. I call this phenonomen "dietorexia" – i.e. thinking of food and foodways in terms of the negotiated values in relation to moral and healthy aspects (Coveney, 2006) (Wiggins, 2002). The article analyses dietorexia as it is constructed in online dialogues in Facebook and food blogs. This paper intends to show how participants in online discussion forums construct knowledge and experience in a negotiated dialogue (MacDonald, 2003), and sees this identification as a conversation to talk oneself into a modern version of the ancient triad of the good, the beautiful and the true, where true is replaced by the healthy.


Counihan,Carole, M. (1999): The Anthropology of Food and Body. Gender, Meaning and Power. London, Routledge.

Coveney, John (2006): Food, Moral and Meaning: The Pleasure and Anxiety of Eating. London: Routledge.

Dolphin, R. (2004) Foodschape, Eburon Pub. Delft

MacDonald, Myra (2003): Exploring Media Discourse. London: Sage.

Wiggins, Sally (2002): Talking with your Mouth Full; Gustatory Mmmms and Embodiment of Pleasure: In Research on Language in Social Interaction 35, 311-336.


Egon Noe, Senior Scientist, Integrated Geographical and Social Studies (iGEO)
Department of Agroecology and Environment, Faculty of Agriculture, Aarhus University.

Steffen Korsgaard, Assistant Professor, Department of Business Administration – Management, AU.

Chris Kjeldsen, Senior Scientist, Integrated Geographical and Social Studies (iGEO), Department of Agroecology and Environment, Faculty of Agriculture, Aarhus University.

Contact: / /


Chris Kjeldsen and Egon Noe: How is local food ’local’? An inquiry into the spatiality of local food

Korsgaard, Steffen & Egon Noe: In the engine room of localization: The entrepreneur in the new rural landscapes Thorsøe, Martin Hermansen: Understanding food regimes as networks of value relations

Qvortrup, Sascha: Good cooking

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Revised 2012.01.15