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Foodscapes as Alternate Ways of Knowing: Advancing Sustainability and Climate Consciousness through Tactile Space

Christina T. Cavaliere[1]

School of Business, Stockton University, Galloway, New Jersey, USA


The act of eating food is the most direct energetic exchange that we engage in with the environment on a physical, psychological and, arguably, spiritual level. This direct absorption of the (un)natural world happens daily, along with the accompanying acts of cultivation, preparation and presentation of these energetic embodiments. Collectively, these food-based activities are rooted in multiple types of socio-cultural traditions, practices and performatives. Therefore, there is a significant prospect to use these acts as contemplative opportunities for alternative ways of understanding sustainable interactions within rural, peri-urban, and urban geographical and socio-political spaces. Foodscapes (Goodman, 2014) are defined as ‘an exchange of representational and non-representational knowledge’ that results in the ‘decentring of the subject/objective dichotomy’ as well as the senses. These ideological spaces of production can serve as various grounds to develop alternate connections to holistic understandings of ways to further ‘embed and embody individuals within the social and natural world’ (Carolan, 2007, p. 1265). I argue foodscapes can also provide opportunities to further develop sustainable tourism strategies spanning the urban, peri-urban and rural contexts.

This chapter serves the call to ‘enliven socio-environmental’ research from the perspective that human bodies are not simply ‘vessels of consciousness’ (Carolan, 2009, pp. 1-2) but that our embodiment and our senses are critical aspects to multiple transformative ways of knowing. Therefore, this chapter explores the philosophical conceptualizations of the role of farms and foodscapes as literal and conceptual places of tactile space in the peri-urban environment. This exploration can be utilized by planners, academics, individuals and those involved in various aspects of food movements to further understand the role of foodscapes for sustainable tourism.

In addition, the link between approaches to sustainable tourism education and interpretation and the need for the further development of place consciousness is presented. Through the socio-environmental convergence of agriculture, tourism and climate change in peri-urban environments, there is an opportunity to understand the ways that food and farms can facilitate various alternative ways of knowing for sustainable development. There are opportunities for necessary and progressive socio-environmental change through deeper understandings of the cultivation of consciousness and reconnection of the culture-nature divide via unprocessed food and sustainable agriculture. The validity of these alternate ways of knowing has been explored in the academy through both Traditional Environmental Knowledge (TEK) and Indigenous worldviews. Currently, broader modern Western understandings of life- world (Turner, 2011) and how it is perceived and understood are being examined.

It is documented that there is a significant disconnect in overly developed societies between humans and food (Williams-Forson and Counihan, 2012). This disconnect is exacerbating a form of ignorance that is perpetuating a decline in the health of individuals, communities and the ecosystem. In addition, the direct link between food and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can serve as a learning point regarding climate change adaptation and mitigation (Gossling et al., 2011) within sustainable tourism. There is a greater need and opportunity for deeper embodied and embedded connections to the natural world through food and food production, particularly within the actual foodscape. The sensuous (Kneafsey et al., 2008) possibilities of experiences with food and foodscapes through utilization of non-representational ways of knowing is gaining attention in the social sciences and could be a way forward for deeper understandings of humans’ relationship to sustainability and specifically climate change. As Carolan (2007, p. 1267) proposes, the concept of tactile space can ‘create relationality between individuals and individuals and the environment’, while concomitantly developing a ‘consciousness that allows for a more enchanted way of knowing’. He further details this enchantment as being where interconnections between parts are seen as readily as the parts themselves. This is directly related to the premise of this book to further explore strategies in sustainability by linking urban and rural tourism.

Ecopsychology is a field that has addressed this deeper meaning in the divide between the human psyche and the natural world (Carolan,

2007). Capitalism is noted as divisively serving to fuel this disconnect in order to propagate production, inequality and domination in both the human and non-human realms (Salleh, 2010). The discussion of these alternate ways of knowing is presented in two subsections. The first section discusses examples of alternate ways of knowing, including tactile space and the role of farms and food producing areas as nature-based visceral experiences. The chapter explores the role of foodscapes and tourism in furthering strategies for sustainability via the facilitation of alternate ways of knowing.

  • [1] E-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it © CAB International 2017 Linking Urban and Rural Tourism: Strategies in Sustainability(eds S.L. Slocum and C. Kline)
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