Eat Food from [Here]

The Talismanic Semiotics of Local Food

  • Susan D. Blum


One especially illuminating aspect of a sign, according to contemporary linguistic anthropologists, is its indexical nature: signs gain meaning through logical or proximate association. And indexicality itself is multiple. In any given instance the potential associations are infinite but the actual associations are limited by a variety of perhaps contingent factors, discoverable not in advance but only through investigation. In demonstrating the multiple aspects (orders [Silverstein 2003], types [Ochs 1992], levels [Hanks 1992]) of indexicality of local food, I show that it indexes all at once location, contact, proximity, and multiple qualities (Chumley and Harkness 2013). As advertisers and others know (Luntz 2007, Puntoni, Schroeder, and Ritson 2010), the more positive associations that can be bundled into a single term, the more effective it can be. While only some advocates of local food would regard themselves as advertisers, virtually all see their task as promotion or education or advocacy, sometimes veering into marketing. Using my experience with a local food co-op, this analysis examines how local food is being employed as a multivariant indexical sign.

Keywords: semiotics, indexicality, qualia, local food

Image: Support Your Local Farmers. Buy Local. Eat Local.
Jan 22, 2017
How to Cite
BLUM, Susan D.. Eat Food from [Here]. Semiotic Review, [S.l.], n. 5, jan. 2017. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 08 feb. 2023.