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To finish this issue of CuiZine, it is necessary to return to our initial question as to the perceptions and practices of terroir in Vermont, Quebec, and North America more generally. Are these reflections of a real and lasting development? This special terroir issue hopes to encourage a larger consideration of new research possibilities, as presently there are very few people concerned with the idea of terroir and its potential New World implications—and even fewer actual researchers. In a certain sense, everything remains to be done. This conclusion can therefore be seen as a means of throwing open the debate, of sparking new research and analysis which demonstrates an awareness of our unique position relative to a set of important issues.
There has been an almost complete absence of ongoing research projects in North America focusing on produits du terroir, or place-based foods. This absence exists in strong contrast to the considerable scientific literature in Europe, where universities and research centres have been actively involved in a number of levels of research, including the biophysical, cultural, and micro- and macro-economic aspects of terroir. In this sense, France and Europe are more fully endowed with the analytical tools and strategies necessary to the development of models that both embrace an understanding of sustainable development and incorporate such compelling issues of food without merely focusing on narrow formulations of economic progress.
It is unfortunate that in the United States and Canada the issues associated with terroir, food, and place do not mobilize public authorities, and that there remains a fundamental lack of understanding even among those who could provide some illumination. When someone like Donald Ziraldo, president of the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, can assert, “my premise is that terroir and local are one and the same,” it is clear that much work on terroir remains to be done. This issue of CuiZine is essential to such work.
In Europe as well as the United States, in all sectors, there are both artisanal and industrial producers. The originality of the European system lies in its having institutionalized and supported a mixed system of production, distribution, and marketing, one that could easily be established in North America. The appellation system is founded in three important assumptions: the specific sensory qualities of products from unique geographical areas; shared know-how that benefits all producers; and cultural values supporting good food. Exploring this approach requires us to fundamentally reconsider the North American relationship to food, taste and place.
Jean-Pierre Lemasson, co-editor of this special issue of CuiZine, is Professor of Urban and Tourism Studies at the University of Quebec in Montreal. Recent publications include Voyages en gastronomies (Autrement 2008) with Julia Csergo, Le mystère insondable du pâté chinois (Amérik Media, 2009), Destinations et territoires (PUQ-Téoros, 2009) with Philippes Violier, and a chapter entitled “The Long History of the Tourtière of Québec’s Lac Saint-Jean” in What’s to Eat? Entrées in Canadian Food History (McGill-Queen’s, 2009), edited by Nathalie Cooke.
Amy Trubek is an assistant professor in the Nutrition and Food Science department at the University of Vermont. A food anthropologist, she is the author of the recently published book, The Taste of Place, A Cultural Journey Into Terroir (2008) and Haute Cuisine: How the French Invented the Culinary Profession (2000). She teaches courses in the contemporary food system, food and culture, food history and qualitative research methods. Her research interests include the history of the culinary profession, the globalization of the food supply, local foods, the relationship between taste and place, and domestic cooking in the contemporary United States.
Donald Ziraldo, “Terroir: Celebrating Gastronomic Diversity,” Michael Vaughan’s Vintage Assessments, http://www.vintageassessments.com/ziraldoreports/ziraldo_reports_80304.html.