Food discourses in Cape Breton: Community, economy, and ecological food practices


  • Erna MacLeod Cape Breton University



Cape Breton, Discourse, Ecological Food, Local Food Tourism, Ethnography


This project investigates ecological food practices on Cape Breton Island as legacies of traditional lifestyles and responses to the acceleration of global capitalism. I examine the multifarious discourses that frame ecological food practices such as organic gardening and farmers’ markets in this region. People have many reasons for producing and consuming ecologically. For some, interest in local, organic food arises from health concerns; for others, involvement constitutes active resistance to environmental degradation or corporate control. These varying perspectives give rise to, and are reflected in, divergent discourses that shape people’s values and identities. I explore possibilities and constraints, including economic benefits, social connections, and healthy lifestyles; as well as time and energy demands, modest financial compensation, and environmental factors. The importance of sustainable food practices raises important questions: Who performs this labour and how is it financially compensated? How are products distributed and shared? What kinds of support would make ecological practices more feasible on a broader scale? To address these questions and contextualize my investigations, I interview farmers, consumers, restaurateurs, and policy makers, and analyze archival and policy documents. I situate my observations within broader circumstances to link local initiatives with global developments and illuminate possibilities for enacting change and collaboratively developing sustainable food practices (Starr 2014).

Author Biography

Erna MacLeod, Cape Breton University

Erna MacLeod is an Assistant Professor in the Communication Department at Cape Breton University.




How to Cite

MacLeod, E. (2016). Food discourses in Cape Breton: Community, economy, and ecological food practices. Canadian Food Studies / La Revue Canadienne Des études Sur l’alimentation, 3(1), 20–45.