Local food tourism—culinary tourism with an explicit emphasis on local food systems—is emerging as a “green” model for community economic development. However, do local food tourism networks constitute a net gain to community economies in all contexts? This article explores that question through surveys and interviews with farmers, restaurateurs, and food tourists in three Wisconsin counties. Framing our discussion using the community capitals framework, we argue that economic benefits do accrue to communities from participation in these networks, but the net gains are ambiguous. Specifically, involvement in local food tourism networks increases stocks of social and human capital, deepens marketing opportunities for participating enterprises, and confers a price premium for food marketed as local. However, there can be significant transaction costs associated with participation, certain types of natural and cultural capital must prefigure successful execution, and restaurateurs levy significant power over farmers within the local food network. These tradeoffs demonstrate that growth in particular community capitals may not always be unequivocally good for communities.

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