Women at the Butcher’s The German weekly newsreel, the Ufa-Wochenschau, opened their program on 23 November, 1962 with a sequence from a West German butcher’s shop, portraying a group of women shopping. Examining the meat at display, they all shook their heads expressing their dissatisfaction with what was available: “That’s too fat! No thanks, that’s too fat!“ they chorused, shaking their heads. Their voices marked an ultimate turning point in the relationship between food and health in modern German history. For the first time changes in the labor market and the growth of prosperity led to worries about excess in society as a whole in the 1960s, instead of the previously known worries about scarcity. Less physical work, less need…

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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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The food world is abuzz with the promise of transparency. Radical transparency. Authentic transparency. Trust-building transparency. The promise comes in many forms – from clear packaging to ethical corporate engagement, “clean” ingredients panels, supply chain traceability, hand held scanning technologies that can tell you “what is really in your food,” video tours taking consumers inside production plants, and real life opportunities to “see for yourself” where your food comes from. What is the problem that transparency seeks to solve? What is transparency? And can it solve those problems? Transparency is the food industry’s answer to consumer concerns about processed food and the industrial food system that produces it. It’s a version of the same ethos that has animated much of…

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