This essay samples situated perspectives on food, history, and landscape in the Mediterranean. Reflecting on moments of ethnographic research made resonant by particular tastes, it considers how sustainable foodscapes on the island of Sardinia, Italy, are rooted in both family relations and property systems. It focuses on household and community production in the Ogliastra, a rural area on the eastern coast of Sardinia. This enables a critical examination of models of ethical consumption, from the perspective of rural producers. Tastes like the delectable roast meat, goat ricotta, and bitter honey that come from the Ogliastra challenge us to think about such places, not as abstract ecological systems, but as living, adapting communities. Such unique flavors are protected today, not by faddish consumers or ethical gastronomes, but by the residents who value the legacy of the Commons and their own deeply social connections to its generative potential.
Tasting Cultural Ecology: Foodscapes of Sustainability in the Mediterranean
Tracey Heatherington is an environmental anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. She is the author of Wild Sardinia: Indigeneity and the Global Dreamtimes of Environmentalism (University of Washington Press, 2010), which won the Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing. During spring 2012, she was Visiting Professor in Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Cagliari, Sardinia.
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Tracey Heatherington; Tasting Cultural Ecology: Foodscapes of Sustainability in the Mediterranean. Gastronomica 1 May 2014; 14 (2): 16–26. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2014.14.2.16
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