Infrastructures of Taste: Rethinking Local Food Histories in Lithuania
Lithuania hosts a diversity of places that offer consumers a taste of local food, which appear to mirror the recent popularity of local and alternative food initiatives globally. In this paper we show that the proliferation of local foods in the region is not a novel phenomenon, nor is it solely a manifestation of taste preferences or identities associated with food. Drawing on the growing scholarly work on the role of infrastructures in mediating social, economic and political relations, we conceptualize the taste for local food as embedded in broader networks and reproduced through material facilities. To advance this argument, our empirical analysis shows how the infrastructure for local food has been fostered, transformed, threatened, but never eradicated during: the Soviet policies that supported subsidiary agriculture and market infrastructures; neoliberal market reforms in the 1990s that made public markets into mainstays for farmers and consumers; and EU accession that brought more stringent regulations and subsidies. Our research demonstrates that today's taste for local foods in Lithuania is neither a local nor global phenomenon, but an outcome of historical processes that foregrounded the formation of smallholder agriculture, direct sales, and self-provisioning practices in the region. More broadly, our research shows how local food persists as an integral part of a broader agro-food infrastructure.
MSU Digital Commons Citation
Blumberg, Renata and Mincyte, Diana, "Infrastructures of Taste: Rethinking Local Food Histories in Lithuania" (2019). Department of Nutrition and Food Studies Scholarship and Creative Works. 62.