Eating local in a U.S. city: Reconstructing “community”—a third place—in a global neoliberal economy

by Nana Okura Gagné

In this article, I explore a particular form of exchange in which food-selling farmers and food-buying urban consumers interact beyond simple economic terms at a U.S. urban farmers’ market. By actively distinguishing their “alternative” exchange from the dominant capitalist exchange, participants objectify processes of production and consumption as well as their own “idealized form of being” (“liberal open-mindedness”) while undermining the dominant ideology of the neoliberal economy. By co-constructing this market as a “third place” where basic distinctions between commodity and gift are blurred and transgressed, customers and farmers produce a “conceptual shift” from Marxian alienated exchange to Maussian inalienating exchange by infusing market transactions with new meanings and new spatial fixes.