this is a photograph of an Iowa sorghum field

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Rich Pirog, in his conclusions to A Geography of Taste: Iowa's Potential for Developing Traditional and Place-Based Foods (2004) puts the issue succinctly. Although American consumers value local foods, it is unclear which traits of place-based foods they value the most, and how they would perceive such foods among the confusing array of other differentiated foods already in the market.
 

 

Iowa place-based foods  |  Download the full report
 

Place-based foods have a unique taste that often has to do with an ecological niche and/or the ethnic or regional heritage of their producers. These are the foods that we seek out to eat locally when we visit a particular place, purchase as souvenirs or gifts, or hunt down in specialty shops. Food is not just about sustenance ~ we want foods that have a story.

 

During 2005 and 2006, the Iowa Foodways Project: Taste of Place surveyed the state to locate and document a variety of foods and the people who produce them. The goal was and is to identify and document those foods that can be distinguished as uniquely Iowan in heritage (whether historical, ethnic, ecological, or geographic).  Politics ~ local, regional, and global ~ make defining place-based foods not easy to put into words, even though identifying a food as place-based may be as deceptively simple and as inherently complex as you know it when you see it. More


This project was funded by two competitive grants from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture as part of its Marketing and Food Systems Initiative. The Leopold Center is interested in place-based Iowa foods because they could provide new markets for farmers and processors who produce them.


For general information on the project, download:
Taste of Place: Iowa's Food Culture and Heritage.

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