This introduction to a special issue forwards “the reinvention of food” as an analytical framework within which to make sense, together, of current projects valorizing “traditional” methods of food production as well as efforts to reimagine more sustainable or transparent food provisioning schemes.
The reinvention of food is also a matter of re-localization. This means rethinking food chains in terms of their spatiality. This article deals with milk and cheese and their reinvention in Italy through two distinct, even opposing, strategies: automatization and face-to-face involvement of critical consumers with producers. Each of these strategies associates trust with different spatial arrangements. In the case of raw milk automated distributors (locally named the equivalent of “milk ATMs”), trust is associated with the short distance to the raw milk producer, with whom, however, there is no direct interaction. In the case of food activist circles, notably Italy’s Solidarity Purchase Groups or GAS, trust lies in actual interaction with the producer. This acquires a specific meaning in a culture that assigns added social significance to the act of food provisioning and cultivates plural practices of social interactions that are mediated through food.