Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Food Systems

First Advisor

David S. Conner


Foodways, which in short refers to eating and drinking practices, are constitutive of personal and group identity. In this thesis, I explore the symbolic values of food and drink in group identification processes evolving across North America. Through the cases of poutine, mezcal, and hard cider, I investigate cultural identity formation, negotiation, and transformation; from everyday practices to global interactions. What I develop in this thesis is a rationale that can be actively used by members of a group, as well as by community development practitioners, governments, and industry stakeholders to bolster community capitals and agency through making, supporting or rejecting food and drink ownership claims.

In the first article, titled Poutine Dynamics, I explore both the culinary and social status of poutine. First, I identify poutine as a new(er) and distinct way to consume food that is increasingly adopted and adapted, and I propose a working definition of poutine as a new dish classification label in its own. Then, by coupling poutine’s sociohistorical stigma and its growing Canadization (that is, the presentation, not the consumption per say, of poutine as a Canadian dish), I expose two related situations: the ongoing culinary

appropriation of poutine and the threat of Quebecois cultural absorption by Canadians. In Poutine Dynamics, I problematize the notion of a “national cuisine” in the context of multinational and settler states. Although the focus is about cuisine, Poutine Dynamics

provides elements of analysis regarding how the Canadian nationalist project is constructed and articulated today, in current celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Confederation in Canada.

The second article of this thesis, titled Strategic Authenticity: The Case of Mezcal, draws upon the recent major update to the mezcal denomination of origin certification (DO) that was long-awaited and requested by “traditional mezcaleros.” This tour de force in the modification of the mezcal DO leads me to identify the notion of authenticity in food as a powerful rhetorical strategy in social negotiation between groups. Through the case of mezcal, I assert that the tasting experience is the most legitimate group identification path and authentication boundary (as opposed to political, ethnical or religious boundaries) in terms of foodways.

The third article, titled The Identity Crisis of Hard Cider, looks at the ongoing cultural affirmation of hard cider from its European counterparts. So far, the research on hard cider in Vermont has looked at the low-level of cider-specific apple production in that state as a supply issue. Instead, I approach this problematic from a demand angle, specifically from the low demand for hard ciders made with cider-specific apples. In this study, I survey the Vermont hard cider industry stakeholders as to possible mechanisms in order to differentiate between hard cider styles, as well as strategies to boost the demand for hard ciders made with cider-specific apples. The implementation of a geographical indication (GI) label was of high interests among participating cider makers. In this study, I also suggest that the hard cider foodways found in Vermont are part of a broader emerging hard cider identity that is taste-based and which crosses political borders within the American Northeast.



Number of Pages

147 p.