Rock Stars and Bad Apples: Alternative Food Networks and Precarious Farm Worker Regimes in British Columbia

Date created: 
2014-08-08
Identifier: 
etd8510
Keywords: 
Alternative food networks
Farm workers
Food movement
Migrant workers
Precarious employment
Unpaid internships
Abstract: 

This research explores how sustainable food initiatives in British Columbia have engaged with social protection and political inclusion for farm workers. Specifically, I consider two groups facing precarious employment: migrant farm workers and un(der)paid agricultural interns. Some members of alternative food networks idealize farm employers as “rock stars” while characterizing disaffirming cases as anomalous “bad apples.” Based on qualitative research, I find that alternative food actors have addressed farm worker social protection through three broad avenues: a moral economy, consumer-driven regulation, and a tenuous engagement with the state. I argue that some of the assumptions underlying these three approaches reproduce precariousness for farm workers; they thus constitute a barrier to the achievement of alternative food networks’ vision of food system transformation. I conclude by considering how a food sovereignty framework might involve farm workers, alternative food actors and other stakeholders in defining human-intensive food systems based on dignified livelihoods.

Document type: 
Thesis
Rights: 
Copyright remains with the author. The author granted permission for the file to be printed and for the text to be copied and pasted.
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Gerardo Otero
Hannah Wittman
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
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