Super-Localizing Food as Tourism Development: Producing the 30 Mile Meal™ in Athens, Ohio

Authors: Jed DeBruin*, West Virginia University
Topics: Tourism Geography, Rural Geography, Economic Geography
Keywords: local, tourism, food justice, Appalachia, agrarian imaginary
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Taylor, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The 30 Mile Meal™ (30MM) breaks away from traditional articulations of food systems that emphasize reducing food miles (Halweil, 2002; Norberg-Hodge et al., 2002 in Feagan, 2007:25), shortening food chains (Renting et al., 2003) or crafting foodsheds (Kloppenburg et al., 1996) by putting tourism at the center, with farmers producing and selling locally to food businesses that cater to tourists. Notably, the 30MM was the first explicit partnership between local food advocacy organizations and a county tourism board, with its branding highly indicative of this partnership. This paper will explore three topics. One, theorize the 30MM in relation to other local food initiatives, highlighting its distinctive tourism branding approach. Two, analyze branding materials to explore what ideas and values are communicated, and how this discourse constructs an “agrarian imaginary” (Minkoff-Zern, 2014). Magazines, restaurant advertisements, and websites all construct and project a particular agrarian imaginary of who the farmers are and what they represent. And lastly, understand barriers to participation, how benefits from participation accrue and how they are perceived by the farmers at the root of this localized production system. The ramifications of this program are rooted within two important contexts. One, the program was founded and operates in the central Appalachian region and two, the program is actively spreading to other Appalachian communities across two states. What conditions created allowed this program to develop in this region, and how does this program adapt to local conditions in different communities?

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