Proverbial wisdom tells us that we are what we eat. As traditional foodways are increasingly appropriated by the heritage and tourism industries, cultural organizations, and government agencies as vehicles for economic development, folklorists can be uniquely positioned to help project teams incorporate vernacular culture into the mainstream and public policy. Often speaking to business people and public servants about what is obvious to folklorists, and undertaking ethnography that falls outside prescribed academic or folk arts and festival models, public folklore is a career track that continues to define and redefine itself within the discipline. This article looks at three case studies-two in New England and one in the Midwest-asking questions such as how much weight foodways can be expected to bear as part of any economic development plan and to whom these model programs belong.

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