Locale: n2, 2012

  1. Cover

  2. Copyright Information

  3. Contents

  4. Introduction

    Susie Khamis
  5. Tasting Territory: Imagining place in Australian native food packaging

    Charlotte Craw

    One aspect of the contemporary interest in ‘local’ foods has been the appearance of products based on Australian native plants. In this article, I explore the place identities presented in the packaging of these products. How are the intimate connections between land and ingredients implicit in the idea of native foods represented in contemporary commodity culture? And how are these relationships between food and place situated within larger discourses of national identity and territory? While native foods present a unique and potent way of engaging with local foods, I argue that the consumer culture of native foods reinforces a naturalised conception of place that un-reflexively conflates the local with the national. Place is conceived of in largely natural terms, ignoring historical and social factors, including, crucially, the Indigenous Australian traditional knowledge on which native food production rests.

    Food, place, local, nationalism, native Australian, terroir
  6. Sotetsu Heritage: Cycads, sustenance and cultural landscapes in the Amami islands

    Philip Hayward and Sueo Kuwahara

    This article addresses the cultural heritage and, thereby, socio-historical perception of the sotetsu plant (cycas revoluta) in Tokunoshima, the Amami islands and the broader Ryukyu archipelago of southern Japan. The article addresses the plant’s function as an emergency/resilience food resource, a field windbreak, a defining feature of a particular ‘cultural landscape’ and a potent symbol within Ryukyu history. While the Amami islands are (now) part of Japan, the article views them from a Pacific history viewpoint, as an underdeveloped archipelagic annex to a major, densely-populated regional power and whose use of botanical and other primary resources has much in common with the islands of Oceania, not the least in terms of the “derivative vulnerabilities” (Lewis, 2009) arising from Amami’s history of colonial disruption and economic exploitation. The discussions advanced in the article engage with the sotetsu’s nature as a food source, a progenitor of related ‘foodways’ and its complex role in the cultural landscape and heritage of the Amami islands and, in particular, southern Tokunoshima. The concluding section considers the heritage value and context of the plant and of the distinctive hedged ‘fieldscapes’ within the context of contemporary economic development.

    Cycad, cycas revoluta, sotetsu, Kanamizaki, Tokunoshima, Amami, emergency foods, resilience, foodways
  7. Coles, Woolworths, and the Local

    Sarah Keith

    Australia is home to one of the most concentrated supermarket sectors in the world, and the practices of the ‘big two’ supermarkets have far-reaching consequences on food production and retail at the local level. This article surveys key issues in Coles and Woolworths’ effect on the food retail and production sectors, and looks at how these supermarkets have adapted in recent years to concerns and criticisms, as well as recent moves towards addressing these criticisms. Over the past decade, several important shifts have occurred which suggest an evolving consumer consciousness and increasing discontent with the corporatised supermarket sector. A primary concern is lack of competition, which reduces incentives to keep prices low for consumers; furthermore, these supermarkets have also been charged with wielding substantial buyer power, resulting in lower prices paid to suppliers. Quality of produce is a further issue, while the rise of private label goods such as milk is concerning for both suppliers and retail competitors. This discontent has led to an ideological opposition to these supermarkets, resulting in public campaigns to prevent their entry into towns and suburbs. Finally, new developments by Coles and Woolworths to improve their reputations, although still at an early stage, are examined.

    Retail, supermarket, local, Coles, Woolworths
  8. Exploring the Market Potential of ‘Local’ in Food Systems

    David Pearson and Alison Bailey

    Local food initiatives create a niche market in many developed countries where consumer choice is being met with an expanding offering in both conventional as well as complementary retail outlets. Supermarkets in conjunction with the food service sector currently dominate food sales and consumption, and are likely to do so for the foreseeable future. However, the local food sector offers an opportunity for implementing niche marketing strategies for many businesses. Local food activities tend to be relatively independent activities and a clearer definition for “local” food would assist in consolidating this important component of the food system. Related to this, consumers would benefit from the establishment of some form of assurance system for the ‘localness’ of food. In the UK, with its well established local food market, farmers’ markets, farm shops and box schemes are currently having the largest impact in terms of total sales. Hence further research is required to confirm that support for similar business ventures in Australia would be a viable strategy for strengthening its local food systems.

    Local food, food production, food consumption
  9. A Pie Cart Story: The longevity of a vernacular fast food eatery

    Lindsay Neill, Claudia Bell, and Nigel Hemmington

    Roadside caravans selling hot meals—’pie carts’—originated in New Zealand during the Depression era of the early 1930s. They were popular providers of fast food in small towns between the 1950s and 1970s. Auckland pie cart the White Lady still operates, and has been continuously in business since 1948. It may now be regarded as a culinary institution. This ethnographic study examines the endurance of the White Lady pie cart against intermittent opposition by city authorities, and vigorous competition by American-style fast-food chains. It survives as a successful business, as well a focal point for citizens’ affectionate nostalgia. In a city where the average timeframe of a hospitality operation is just 18 months, to many residents the White Lady has achieved the status of city icon. Its longevity is attributed to its location, convenience, reliability, authenticity, quirky charm, and its operation as a family business. The proprietors take pride in their long-standing and dogged tenacity against the dynamics of a changing city.

    Fast food, longevity, hospitality, pie cart, streetscape
  10. From Bananas To Biryani: The creation of Woolgoolga Curryfest as an expression of community

    Lisa Milner and Mandy Hughes

    Since the 1940s, a Punjabi Sikh subculture has been a part of the community of Woolgoolga, just north of Coffs Harbour in northern coastal New South Wales (NSW). This began with their relocation to Woolgoolga to farm bananas. Today the area boasts the largest regional Sikh settlement in Australia, and although banana farming continues to be an important aspect of Sikh life, these original families and other newcomers have diversified and branched out into other aspects of community existence. In an area with a growing regional population and an economy largely centred on food production, services and tourism, the ‘regional festival culture’ has been embraced as a way to reflect and create notions of community, as well as attract interest from visitors drawn to the multicultural township. This article considers the festival as not only a case study in the expansion of regional food cultures, but also identifies Curryfest as a conduit for the promotion of Woolgoolga as a unique and diverse community. It is important to note that definitions of ‘community’ will always be contested, as will issues over who has the right to represent a particular community. Understandings of multiculturalism can also be visited here but we suggest that it is important not to dismiss the official project of multiculturalism in Australia as being superficial and of limited value. The social significance of food demands that any exchange of culinary practices should in fact be given recognition as an important and potentially powerful social force.

    Woolgoolga, Community, Sikh, festival, food
  11. Make Or Break: Building chefs in Sydney food media

    Nancy Lee

    The Sydney dining community is joined in a number of ways—through food, through the online information-sharing portal Twitter and through the food media. This article discusses these connections within the dining community and the ways in which they contribute to the industry’s perception of dining and of Sydney chefs. In particular, The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and weekly pullout magazine Good Living are significant indicators of the direction of Sydney dining and Sydney chefs. I assess the methods through which these titles contribute to the evolution of Sydney dining. Food critics also act as ‘gatekeepers’ to this scene. While they do not direct what goes on in Sydney kitchens, the influence of Sydney food critics affects how diners perceive Sydney chefs. Certain chefs are seen in contemporary culture as celebrity figures built by the media. As a result, the ways in which we understand food and chefs are changing. In one-on-one interviews with notable chefs in Sydney and through considering the effects of cultural capital amongst the dining community, I present a discussion on the impacts of Sydney food media and how they build the profiles of Sydney chefs in order to fuel what I call the ‘chef economy’.

    Sydney chefs, identity, food, media
  12. About the Authors