Accepted Paper:

Saving local taste: culinary tradition and the local food movement in Japan  


Christopher Laurent (Université de Montréal)

Paper short abstract:

In Japan, the promotion of local food traditions is presented as a solution to fight rural decline and low food self-sufficiency. The broader local food movement that focuses on local production and consumption must also take into account local food traditions if it is to remain successful.

Paper long abstract:

Picture this: farming houses falling into disrepair, rice paddies dry and taken over by weeds, and farmers in their seventies hanging on to an outmoded way of life. Across Japan, agricultural communities like this one struggle to produce the food Japan depends on. Rural decline and food self-sufficiency are two major challenges facing the Japanese food system. To answer these problems, the Japanese government came up with a unique set of policies that attempt to promote local food traditions. The local food movement has long assumed that the solution to the industrial food system crisis is to foster local networks of food distribution and consumption. Little research has examined how local culinary traditions fit into the broader imperatives of the local food movement. Based on ethnographic research in rural Japan, I will look at how cooking school curriculum, school lunch menus and traditional food groups shape the expression of the local food movement. Although these measures are unlikely to contribute significantly to Japan's food self-sufficiency and to its rural revitalization, local food traditions can hardly be dissociated from the local food movement in Japan. In this paper, I argue that it is crucial for the local food movement to take local food practices and traditions into account if it is to remain a viable alternative model.

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