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Good food or industrial food: discourses of the rural idyll and alternative food networks

O'Neill, Kirstie ORCID: 2024. Good food or industrial food: discourses of the rural idyll and alternative food networks. Journal of Rural Studies 105 , 103199. 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2024.103199
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Notions of the rural as idyllic and redolent of a simpler and more rooted past have long been challenged in the rural studies literature. Recent research has renewed interest in social representations of the rural idyll, yet there remains little discussion of the linkages between this cultural representation and alternative food networks, and specifically the role of policymakers and businesses in supporting and promoting such food networks. Drawing on research with local food businesses and policymakers, I explore their imaginaries of idyllic ruralities, to expose how they fold these ideas into their actions, perceptions, and practices. Research respondents in East Yorkshire and the Abruzzo frequently compared these rural areas with ‘elsewheres’ which were seen to perform ‘better’ for alternative and local food systems, and focused on specific ideas, materials and practices that represented the rural idyll to them. My work shows how ideals like the rural idyll employ essentialised perspectives based on traditional peasant agriculture, which work to obfuscate and even vilify industrial agriculture, and that such binary thinking is unhelpful in reconceptualizing food system transformation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0743-0167
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 10 January 2024
Date of Acceptance: 7 January 2024
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2024 16:55

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