Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Geology and Geography

Committee Chair

Bradley Wilson

Committee Co-Chair

Jonathan Hall

Committee Member

Jonathan Hall

Committee Member

Jamie Shinn


Geographers have played a leading role in the theorization and critique of local food initiatives, raising critical questions about why they are advanced, how they work, and who benefits. Central to geographic critique of local food initiatives is how “the local” is framed, valued, and fetishized. The 30 Mile Meal™ (30MM) is one of these local food initiatives that seeks to rebrand local food in Appalachia through tourism development, as well as expand this model to other communities. In this paper, I explore how the 30MM is distintinctive in relation to other local food initiatives, how the 30MM constructs and represents an agrarian imaginary about farming and food, and identify the benefits and barriers to participating in the 30MM for farmers. The major concern centers on the implications of scaling up this model across Appalachia.

Through this study, it becomes evident that the 30MM works to create a regional brand (Boynes and Hall, 2004) emphasizing values-based labeling (Barham, 2002) that markets difference in place (Ilbery et. al, 2005). This branding, however, is not wholly representative of southeast Ohio’s past or current agricultural endeavors, erasing or obscuring “parallel alternatives” (Gibb & Wittman, 2013) and reproducing whiteness in alternative food (Slocum, 2007). Lastly, the limited benefits to participation for farmers points to issues of governance in local food systems (Mutersbaugh et. al, 2005; Cañada & Vázquez, 2005; Higgins et. al, 2008). What would a shift from emphasizing local food to emphasizing equitable food look like in practice?