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Decomposing the semantics of local food: an analysis of food flows & organizations of Arizona

Bingham, Darren Robert (2021) Decomposing the semantics of local food: an analysis of food flows & organizations of Arizona. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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The demand for ‘local food’ by U.S. consumers has grown, accompanied by confusion over howto define local food. Is ‘local’ food defined by the location of the farm, food processing factory, distribution warehouse, or all three? Is ‘local’ food defined by geographic, political, or biophysical boundaries? Is ‘local’ solely farm-to-table or can it include factories? This study evaluates food commodity flow ‘localness’ using jurisdictional boundaries and physical distance to investigate the potential for food system transformation and the tradeoffs inherent to ‘localizing’ food production. We take a supply chain approach by making data-driven distinctions between farm-based flows of food and industrial, energy and non-food (IENF) crops and manufacturing/distribution flows of food and agriculturally-derived industrial inputs. We analyze the diversity, distance (a proxy for environmental impact), political boundaries, population, weight, and price (net selling value) of food commodity flows. We find tradeoffs between food system diversity and local food sourcing, sustainability, and self-sufficiency. As communities look to improve food system resilience, they will need to balance food-miles and the other values associated with local food. Though not a complete analysis, this thesis evaluates and reviews 153 groups across the state of Arizona. These groups provide the messaging, social norms, and dialogue for local food in the state of Arizona; their definitions define the understanding and knowledge consumers gain on local food. Additionally, visualization tools were used to map the content analysis of these definitions. Graphs, tables, maps, and figures better articulate the information found than pages of texts. The goal will be to find commonalities and differences in the ways that local food is both socially derived and quantifiably measured. How Arizona groups define local food and how USDA food flow data produces different quantifiable metrics for local food. This research can then inform food advocates and decision-makers about the reality of food sourcing in Arizona. Both data about how food flows and how groups define local are central if people are looking to increase or improve local food sourcing in Arizona. This information could lead to policy changes, business innovations, increased consumer power, and support for producers.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Arizona local food groups; food supply chains; geographic domains of proximity; local food circularity; supply chain diversity; U.S. food flow analysis
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Social and Behavioral Science > Sustainable Communities
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2022 19:12
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2022 19:12
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5727

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