Embedded Foodways. Exploring the "avant-garde" of Styrian family farmers
Elisabeth Kosnik (University of Graz)
Gabriele Sorgo (University of Graz)
Andrea Heistinger (University of Graz)
Paper short abstract:
Our research explores foodways as embedded in multi-dimensional ways in response to food related anxieties. For small-scale farmers this might prove an opportunity to make a livelihood through alternative schemes, whereby food is less considered as disembedded commodity than as 'total social fact'.
Paper long abstract:
Like many other regions of Europe and elsewhere, rural Styria (Austria) suffers from de-population and its associated problems, from declining infrastructure to neglected landscapes. As farms disappear, consumers (and governments) increasingly worry about where their food will come from in the future. Combined with an increasing mistrust among consumers of food solely produced for profit, the demand for "local" and "safe" food is on the rise. Our inter-disciplinary research project (agricultural science, cultural anthropology and European ethnology) explores the "avant-garde" of family farmers in Styria - in-migrants as well as long-term residents - who see this development as an opportunity to make a new life as small-scale farmers, creating household-scale livelihoods that feed themselves as well as revive their local communities, imagining a future of local (food) resilience. Based on in-depth biographical interviews, the research project investigates foodways as embedded in multi-dimensional, environmental, social and cultural ways (Sorgo 2014). These smallholders aim to build trust relationships with their consumers based on reciprocity, through alternative schemes of production and distribution, thereby counter-acting food anxieties while also sharing responsibilities. Food, in this context, is less considered as disembedded commodity than as a 'total social fact', a notion further explored in our ongoing research project.