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Food, Space, and Place in a Global Society

Edited By Carlnita P. Greene

Foodscapes explores the nexus of food, drink, space, and place, both locally and globally. Multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary in scope, scholars consider the manifold experiences that we have when engaging with food, drink, space, and place. They offer a wide array of theories, methods, and perspectives, which can be used as lenses for analyzing these interconnections, throughout each chapter. Scholars interrogate our practices and behaviors with food within spaces and places, analyze the meanings that we create about these entities, and demonstrate their wider cultural, political, social, economic, and material implications.

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8. Agrarian Myth, Public Memory, and the Industrial Food Narrative of American Family Farming at Iowa’s Living History Farms Open-Air Museum (Ross Singer)


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8.  Agrarian Myth, Public Memory, and the Industrial Food Narrative of American Family Farming at Iowa’s Living History Farms Open-Air Museum


Living History Farms (LHF), a 500-acre indoor-outdoor museum in Urbandale, Iowa, invites visitors to experience Midwestern U.S. rural heritage through “the story of American agriculture”—“the amazing story of how Iowans transformed the fertile prairies of the Midwest into the most productive farmland in the world.”1 Following the living history “open-air museum” model found at U.S. commemorative sites such as Colonial Williamsburg and Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village, LHF blends an educational museum visit with a picnic-like atmosphere.2 Recognized since its opening in 1970 as one of the leading agricultural museums in the world, Living History Farms brings history to life through exhibits such as working farms, simulated downtown merchant shops, and historically dressed interpreters.3 LHF features five major exhibits dedicated to “representative historical years” and “time periods that illustrate major changes in agricultural technology, procedures and rural life.” Exhibits include a 1700 Ioway Indian Farm,4 an 1850 Pioneer Farm, the 1875 Town of Walnut Hill, a 1900 Horse-Powered Farm, and the Henry A. Wallace Exhibit Center dedicated to modern agriculture.5

This chapter considers how LHF’s exhibits and their broader built environment offer visitors a narrative frame for remembering a distant agrarian past and understanding Iowa’s leadership in today’s agriculture and food system. Drawing upon research that I conducted during a three-day visit to...

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