Topic: The local food system in the genius loci - the role of food, local products and short food chains in rural tourism
This article explores what roles locally produced, processed and marketed food (Local Food System) can play in rural tourism and local socio-economic development. High value added food and drinks, based on small scale, supposedly sustainable local production often provides a large part of the touristic attraction of a territory, thus, are important elements of the genius loci (the spirit of the place). Through business opportunities, multiplier and knock-on effects they can also significantly help to maintain local economy, culture, traditional production systems, social networks, etc. However, there are many controversies. When local food system means local food for extra-local people, then environmental sustainability becomes at least questionable, visitor pressure can cause social, economic, and environmental degradation, resources, profit, and power can be overtaken by incomers or external investors, leading to conflicts, at the end damaging the local resource base.
This article is the first account of a 3 years research project (LO-KÁLI, supported by NKFIH) that investigates the ongoing development process in the Káli-basin, Balaton-uplands, a very successful region of rural tourism in Hungary. We investigate what (rational and ‘irrational’) attitudes, norms, values influence the behaviour of both producers, keeping them in the rural area and tourists/customers, making them to pay premium price for local food. We contrast the perceived image (‘genius loci’) of the region (‘Hungarian Provence’, cultural landscape, gastronomy, social and environmental sustainability) with the realistic impacts of the current development process on the environment and the general wellbeing of local economy and society.
Concentrating on a relatively small geographic area and using both quantitative and qualitative methods in a multidisciplinary framework will allow us to collect substantial new data, create a dynamic framework for analysis and contribute to both scientific, methodological and policy objectives.