In the 1970s, Christmas Eve was divided between extremes. First, we had Toast Hawaii, like many other Germans in the Federal Republic: take a slice of sandwich bread, cover it with ham and a wheel of canned pineapple, top it with a slice of gleaming yellow processed cheese, bake it, and stick a bright red maraschino cherry in the resulting crusty indentation. Arranged on bread that, according to ‘low-food biographer’ Carolyn Wyman, was “tamed to be more palatable to a broader range of people from … the small kid to the adult,” Toast Hawaii was the stringy glue that held our nation together. An exotic feast for eyes and palate, it created a sense of belonging against all odds, even for a ten-year-old like myself.…

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Charlotte Biltekoff in a recent blog entry notes, “The foodworld is abuzz with the promise of transparency.” The premise is that new trends in food marketing better inform consumers about where and how their food is produced. And as Biltekoff considers, transparency creates further complexity. Certainly, “eating local” similarly supports the notion of transparency in the food system. My objective here is to examine how urban branding around “eating local” shapes the urban landscape. I focus on the city of Sacramento, California to illustrate the ways in which the city council and restaurateurs tacitly employ the notion of food transparency to upgrade the urban landscape to accrue capital. In 2013, Mayor Kevin Johnson declared Sacramento “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital.” The marketing…

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