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Food that Matters: Constructing Place and Community at Food Festivals in Northwest Ohio

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Abstract:

The majority of current food research in the humanities is mired in examinations of the woman’s place in the domestic sphere and folk foodways. Instead of following this familiar recipe, this paper will look at the intersection of domus (the home) and domain (here used to communicate place) and how food functions as mascot of civic identity, thus contributing to the maintenance, and ongoing vitality of a community. This paper is informed by more than two years of field research studying food as a cultural production at food festivals in Northwest Ohio.

Like food festivals across the United States and abroad, food festivals in NW Ohio can range from small, local events staged by all-volunteer organizations, to large, multi-day events with a regional draw, arranged and advertised by professional event organizers and sponsored by large corporations. Since Ohio’s largest industry is agriculture, many of the festivals take the shape of harvest festivals or a celebration of a local or regional crop, industry, or food product, while others are a celebration of a particular ethnic heritage. The concentration and vast variety of food festivals in this region make it possible to draw generalizations that can help researchers better understand the place of food in a community. Food festivals are about the construction of public memory, the performance of personal, and community identity. They illustrate a connection to the landscape and contribute to a sense of heritage.

Food festivals aid in both the construction and the performance of who one is, and how he or she fits into the community, but also open up critical space for the exploration of how we talk about gender, ethnicity, and class. Where the urban food festivals tend to celebrate the linkage of participants and organizers to a specific ethnic group, rural food festival celebrates the production of foodstuffs and the personalization of a product.

Understanding the choices governing what people in a region or community eat is perhaps the best way to get to know what people, who share common traditions, value. It also provides points of entry into understanding the construction of region, ethnicity, and how people envision their relationship to the world around them.
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Association:
Name: American Studies Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.theasa.net


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p244613_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Crook, Nathan. "Food that Matters: Constructing Place and Community at Food Festivals in Northwest Ohio" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hyatt Regency, Albuquerque, New Mexico, <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p244613_index.html>

APA Citation:

Crook, N. C. "Food that Matters: Constructing Place and Community at Food Festivals in Northwest Ohio" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hyatt Regency, Albuquerque, New Mexico <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p244613_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: The majority of current food research in the humanities is mired in examinations of the woman’s place in the domestic sphere and folk foodways. Instead of following this familiar recipe, this paper will look at the intersection of domus (the home) and domain (here used to communicate place) and how food functions as mascot of civic identity, thus contributing to the maintenance, and ongoing vitality of a community. This paper is informed by more than two years of field research studying food as a cultural production at food festivals in Northwest Ohio.

Like food festivals across the United States and abroad, food festivals in NW Ohio can range from small, local events staged by all-volunteer organizations, to large, multi-day events with a regional draw, arranged and advertised by professional event organizers and sponsored by large corporations. Since Ohio’s largest industry is agriculture, many of the festivals take the shape of harvest festivals or a celebration of a local or regional crop, industry, or food product, while others are a celebration of a particular ethnic heritage. The concentration and vast variety of food festivals in this region make it possible to draw generalizations that can help researchers better understand the place of food in a community. Food festivals are about the construction of public memory, the performance of personal, and community identity. They illustrate a connection to the landscape and contribute to a sense of heritage.

Food festivals aid in both the construction and the performance of who one is, and how he or she fits into the community, but also open up critical space for the exploration of how we talk about gender, ethnicity, and class. Where the urban food festivals tend to celebrate the linkage of participants and organizers to a specific ethnic group, rural food festival celebrates the production of foodstuffs and the personalization of a product.

Understanding the choices governing what people in a region or community eat is perhaps the best way to get to know what people, who share common traditions, value. It also provides points of entry into understanding the construction of region, ethnicity, and how people envision their relationship to the world around them.


Similar Titles:
Place Matters, But How? Rural identity, environmental decision-making and the social construction of place

Exploring the Structural Determinants of Food Stamp Program Participation in the South: Does Place Matter?

Consuming (Non)-Local Food at Festivals: Questioning Commodified Food Localism and Identities of Place in Kentucky's County Festivals

Potluck: The Role of Food in the Construction of Gullah Communities in South Carolina


 
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