Act think eat drink, locally? Understanding the motivations of student consumers to support the local food movement in Nova Scotia
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The local food movement has become a popular alternative to industrialized agriculture in the global North. The goals of the local food movement are to support local farmers, build strong local communities and to reconnect the consumer to the source of their food. This paper challenges the local food movement, arguing that consumers tend to fetishize local food without asking the critical questions that led to the local food movement in the first place. This paper argues that the local food movement has become romanticized as a social good, and that rather than addressing the issues of the global food system, the local food movement represents an exit strategy instead of addressing the problems within the global food system. In order to explore the research question, “what motivates students in Nova Scotia to eat local?”, a survey of 148 student consumers was conducted at Dalhousie University. Survey responses reflect the popular rhetoric of the local food movement, supporting the local food movement for it’s perceived environmental superiority, ethical production and economic benefit. The local food movement is based on well-meaning values; however, it is moving away from deeper concerns of equity and citizenship. The local idea becomes problematic when our sense of justice becomes territorially bounded by a shared, exclusionary, sense of place. This paper argues that local activity could be adapted to offer more equity and stability to higher, more global levels of the food system. This would contribute to the resilience of the food system as a whole, while allowing for the values of the local food system to be extended beyond a bounded sense of place.