Terroir is a word that carries powerful cultural and sensory associations in France. Although roughly translated a “taste of place,” terroir is more difficult to translate as a cultural concept. Terroir in France represents sensory qualities of food that capture a dynamic engagement between people, place and taste. This engagement can be seen in the decisions made by individual food producers to craft a product characteristic of their region. In France this engagement also extends to a conversation between those producing food and the regulators and researchers charged with monitoring and promoting specific products understood to have an exceptional relationship to place. This cooperation between multiple partners helps maintain an authentic sense of terroir within the modern, global food system. In both Québec and Vermont the provincial or state governments have developed a keen interest in the European investment in Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Geographic Indications (GI). To what extent could Vermont and Québec lead the way in developing and protecting the first New World produits du terroir with designations parallel to those found in Europe? This essay compares the different levels of engagement between product, practice and place found in France, Québec and Vermont.


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