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Boutique food producers at the Detroit Eastern Market: the complex identities of authentic food

Giorda, Erica
Agriculture and human values 2018 v.35 no.4 pp. 747-760
affordability, consumers (people), cultural values, food industry, food marketing, food quality, markets, provenance, value added, Michigan
Eastern Market in Detroit is one of the oldest, continuously working public markets in the United States. Starting in 2006, the management changed and the market underwent a round of renovations. Since then, the Eastern Market Corporation (EMC) has worked to increase the number of stands selling value-added food at the market. Following the EMC’s lead, the new vendors sell their fare in boutique style, putting specific care in the setup of the stands and in the visual and oral narratives they use. Their presentation of food quality emphasizes craftsmanship and cultural values more than affordability or provenance. The interplay between these vendors and the EMC management point to two worlds identified by convention theory: domestic and market. The work of boutique food producers at Eastern Market manifests a composite arrangement between the domestic and market worlds where the authenticity of the products and regard for the customers are composite principles that solidify the compromise.