Making Place for Local Food: Reflections on Institutional Procurement and the Alberta Flavour Learning Lab


  • Michael C. Granzow University of Alberta
  • Mary A. Beckie University of Alberta



Alberta Flavour Learning Lab, Institutional Procurement, Scaling Up, Local Food, Transformative Incrementalism, Reflexive Localism, Strategic Localism, Place-Based Foods


Part case study, part reflective essay, this paper examines questions of place and scale in relation­ship to local food initiatives and, in particular, institutional procurement. A recent emphasis on “place-based” rather than “local” food systems presents an opportunity to ask, What would local food look like here? The Canadian province of Alberta is a unique place defined by a set of geographical, historical, and cultural relationships and connections around food. Through the case of the Alberta Flavour Learning Lab (Alberta Flavour), an institutional procurement initiative focused on “scaling-up” local food, we discuss how an increased emphasis on context and place acti­vates strategic directions for thinking about food system change. We consider Alberta Flavour as a site of strategic localism that involves actively craft­ing a scale of local food that functions within a particular context. Rather than reinforcing divides between conventional and alternative food systems, Alberta Flavour interfaces between the broader values of the local food movement and the current realities of Alberta’s agri-food landscape and cul­ture. We argue that the initiative’s hybrid and prag­matic approach to “getting more local food on more local plates,” while not radical, nonetheless contributes to positive food system change through “transformative incrementalism” (Buchan, Cloutier, & Friedman, in press).


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Author Biographies

Michael C. Granzow, University of Alberta

Department of Sociology

Mary A. Beckie, University of Alberta

Faculty of Extension

Logo for the Place-Based Food Systems Conference



How to Cite

Granzow, M., & Beckie, M. (2019). Making Place for Local Food: Reflections on Institutional Procurement and the Alberta Flavour Learning Lab. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 9(A), 215–229.

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