Accepted Paper:

From corn to coffee to coriander: contexts of change and meaning in 'local' food production in Pérez Zeledón, Costa Rica  


Deborah Sick

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores 'local' food in a region long dominated by export coffee production. The return to local food has been demographically and market, rather than ideologically, driven, raising questions of the meaning of ‘local’ food in differing times, spaces and social groups.

Paper long abstract:

A growing number of social movements, such as the Local Food Movement and the Food Sovereignty Movement, have been advocating 'local' food production as an antidote to many of the adverse impacts of the world's dominant agro-industrial food system on both small-scale farming families and consumers worldwide. In this paper, I explore the shift towards more 'local' food growing in a region of Costa Rica long dominated by the production of coffee for international export markets. In the last 10 years, fundamental changes in the region have opened spaces for domestic food production that were not previously viable, providing an avenue of diversification and security for producers and access to more nutritious foods for an increasingly urban/peri-urban population. Long-term research in the region shows that, unlike local food movements of the Global North, in Pérez Zeledón, an ideological discourse among consumers to support local small-scale farmers has not played a role in this shift. Rather, increased production of food for local consumption is the result of regional demographic, economic, and social changes, as well as factors internal to smallholder households themselves, raising questions of the meaning of 'local' food in differing times, spaces and social groups.

Panel LL-FWF02
Minimize the movement: producing and consuming local food