Between Global and Local: Exploring Regional Food Systems from the Perspectives of Four Communities in the U.S. Northeast

  • Anne Palmer Johns Hopkins University
  • Raychel Santo Johns Hopkins University
  • Linda Berlin University of Vermont
  • Alessandro Bonanno Colorado State University
  • Kate Clancy Johns Hopkins University and Food Systems Consultant
  • Carol Giesecke Delaware State University
  • C. Clare Hinrichs Pennsylvania State University
  • Ryan Lee Johns Hopkins University
  • Philip McNab Johns Hopkins University
  • Sarah Rocker Pennsylvania State University
Keywords: Northeast, Regional Food System, Local Food System, Consumer/Public Perceptions, Scale, Immigrants

Abstract

Emphasis on local foods and local food systems has often meant that the importance of other scales goes unrecognized or underappreciated. While each scale has limitations, some food system experts now assert the benefits of the regional scale for its ability to foster a more sufficient, diverse, affordable, and resilient food system. This paper contributes to this debate by exploring people’s perceptions of regionally produced foods. Seven focus groups were conducted with a total of 51 participants across four locations in the U.S. Northeast. Topics discussed included the importance of knowing where food is sourced, how people described their region, personal connections to the region, globalization of food, importance of food origin, perceived benefits and drawbacks of regional foods, and the sense of efficacy and engagement involving food. While many participants were familiar with the concept of the local food system, their perceptions of the regional scale were weaker, less formed, and more diver­gent. These focus groups provide founda­tional insights into emerging consumer definitions and values related to regional food systems, which may help develop appropriately targeted messages to reinforce regional benefits.

Author Biographies

Anne Palmer, Johns Hopkins University
Center for a Livable Future, Department of Environmental Health & Engineering, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; 615 North Wolfe Street, W7010; Baltimore, MD 21205
Raychel Santo, Johns Hopkins University
Center for a Livable Future, Department of Environmental Health & Engineering, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; 615 North Wolfe Street, W7010; Baltimore, MD 21205
Linda Berlin, University of Vermont
Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, University of Vermont; 109 Carrigan Drive; Burlington, VT 05405 and Center for Sustainable Agriculture, University of Vermont; 109 Carrigan Drive; Burlington, VT 05405
Alessandro Bonanno, Colorado State University
College of Agricultural Sciences, Colorado State University; 1200 Center Avenue Mall; Fort Collins, CO 80523
Kate Clancy, Johns Hopkins University and Food Systems Consultant
Center for a Livable Future, Department of Environmental Health & Engineering, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; 615 North Wolfe Street, W7010; Baltimore, MD 21205; and Food systems consultant, University Park, MD 20782
Carol Giesecke, Delaware State University
Department of Human Ecology, Delaware State University; 205A Ag Annex, 1200 North DuPont Highway; Dover, DE 19901
C. Clare Hinrichs, Pennsylvania State University
Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology & Education, Pennsylvania State University; 111D Armsby Building; University Park, PA 16802
Ryan Lee, Johns Hopkins University
Center for a Livable Future, Department of Environmental Health & Engineering, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; 615 North Wolfe Street, W7010; Baltimore, MD 21205; and Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; 624 North Broadway; Baltimore, MD 21205
Philip McNab, Johns Hopkins University
Center for a Livable Future, Department of Environmental Health & Engineering, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; 615 North Wolfe Street, W7010; Baltimore, MD 21205; and Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; 624 North Broadway; Baltimore, MD 21205
Sarah Rocker, Pennsylvania State University
Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology & Education, Pennsylvania State University; 111D Armsby Building; University Park, PA 16802
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Published
2017-12-20
How to Cite
Palmer, A., Santo, R., Berlin, L., Bonanno, A., Clancy, K., Giesecke, C., Hinrichs, C., Lee, R., McNab, P., & Rocker, S. (2017). Between Global and Local: Exploring Regional Food Systems from the Perspectives of Four Communities in the U.S. Northeast. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 7(4), 187-205. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2017.074.017

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