Two definitions of culture prevail in the literature:
a) the way of life, the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time, especially as shown in the group members day to day behaviour and habits, their attitudes towards each other, and their moral and religious beliefs;
b) the arts of describing, showing, or performing that represent the traditions or the way of life of a particular people or group: literature, art, music, dance, theatre, etc.
Both definitions can be related to agriculture and food economics. The former more in connection to different cultural aspects affecting behaviour of economic agents; the latter more in relation to valorization in food supply chains.
The role of culture as a driver of economic behaviour is addressed by often very narrow studies related to individual products or locations, either at the supply or demand side of markets. Noticeably, the vast majority of these contributions consider culture as a static concept. In these studies, culture is exogenous and immutable. It can be fully represented in a disciplinary or a ‘traditional’ recipe. It can be coded into a well-defined set of behavioural rules determining the interaction and coordination among agents in rural communities. It drives consumer choices and acceptance of innovation. In many cases, local culture is used as an exogenous explanation for behaviour that defies the predictions of the neoclassical paradigm. More recently, from both demand and supply side, attention is driven towards the need for a systemic view in which not only demand and supply are connected through coordination means beyond market, but cultural aspects are embedded in coordination solutions, e.g. through concepts such as alternative food networks and knowledge and innovation systems. Some of these aspects are further challenged by new technologies. New communication technologies for example, are bringing not only new ways of communication, but also new discourses, evolving mindsets and social interaction. Another example is the bio-economy that is bringing new avenues towards interpreting value creation and the interface with ethics.