"Farm Trucks, not Semis": a Farm-to-Table Imaginary and the World of its Production
Boothby, Rachel Thayer
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This master’s thesis delves into the world of farm-to-table relationships in Madison, Wisconsin, to explore the production of one such geographical imaginary with attentiveness to the lived realities (intentionality, values, and participatory strategies) of those participating in it. This thesis gives shape to the world of farm-to-table restaurant sourcing in Madison. Part one introduces Madison’s local food movement, including an overview of key features of farms and farmers that participate in farm-to-table imaginaries. Part two explores the interstitial spaces between farm and restaurant, describing the lived realities of the participants in farm-to-table geographic imaginaries utilizing the framework of a socially embedded market. Although restaurants are often a small slice of the pie that enables the production of “local food” in terms of overall purchases, the creation of geographic imaginaries surrounding local food involves complicated interpersonal histories and politics. These relationships result in different social relations between farmers and restaurant purchasers, as well as unique farm ecologies as farmers collaborate with restaurants to cultivate particular plant varieties, raise rare or specialty breeds of livestock, and develop new products. Part three shifts focus from farm to table, to explore the ways in which geographic imaginaries are produced and reproduced by participants, and consumers come to be enrolled in the imaginary. Finally, the concluding section warns of the limitations of a farm-to-table imaginary, sketching out problems within the edges of its vision, and the shadows beyond.
Color Images and Bibliography.