Seasonal Workers in Mediterranean Agriculture
The Social Costs of Eating Fresh
Edited by Jörg Gertel, Sarah Ruth Sippel
Routledge – 2014 – 294 pages
Series: Earthscan Food and Agriculture
Over the last three decades there has been a rapid expansion of intensive production of fresh fruit and vegetables in the Mediterranean regions of south and west Europe. Much of this depends on migrating workers for seasonal labour, including from Eastern Europe, North Africa and Latin America. This book is the first to address global agro-migration complexes across the region.
It is argued that both intensive agricultural production and related working conditions are highly dynamic. Regional patterns have developed from small-scale family farming to become an industrialized part of the global agri-food system, which increasingly depends on seasonal labour. Simultaneously, consumer demand for year-round supply has caused relocations of the industry within Europe; areas of intensive greenhouse production have moved further south and even into North Africa. The authors investigate this Mediterranean agri-food system that transcends borders and is largely constituted by invisible seasonal work. By revealing the story of food commodities loaded with implications of private profit seeking, exploitation, exclusion and multiple insecurities, the book unmasks the hidden costs of fresh food provisioning.
Three case study areas are considered in detail: the French region of Provence, a traditional centre of fresh fruit and vegetable cultivation; the Spanish Almería region where intensive production has, accelerated dramatically since the 1970s; and Morocco where counter-seasonal production has recently been expanding. The book also includes commentaries that refer to complemetary insights on US-Mexico, Philippines-Canada and South Pacific mobilities.
"Seasonal Workers in Mediterranean Agriculture looks behind the façade of a modern agro-food industry that links not just producing regions in France, Spain and Morocco but sources of migratory labor from North Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America without which the entire system would yield neither fresh produce nor profit. This excellent monograph, based on exceptionally rich historical and ethnographic case studies, exposures the ugly underbelly and the radical precarity of a contemporary industrial agriculture operating in the long shadow of economic and social crisis. The authors provide a path-breaking and yet unsettling account of the social life of what passes as fresh and sustainable produce. A tour de force." – Michael Watts, Professor of Geography, Class of 1963 Chair, University of California, Berkeley, USA, author of Silent Violence: Food, Famine and Peasantry in Northern Nigeria and co-editor of books such as Globalizing Food: Agrarian Questions and Global Restructuring,Liberation Ecologies, Violent Environments, and Living under Contract.
"Proof yet again there is no such thing as a free, or even cheap, lunch! Seasonal Workers in Mediterranean Agriculture reminds us that what appear as externalized costs for consumers are deeply and literally internalized for the millions who toil so we can eat fresh. It is a sophisticated book with many important take-home messages, one of which being that we can’t afford to keep eating this way." – Michael Carolan, Professor and Chair of Sociology at Colorado State University, USA and author of such books as The Real Cost of Cheap Food, Reclaiming Food Security, and Cheaponomics: The High Cost of Low Prices.
"Focusing upon Mediterranean agriculture, but drawing upon case studies from throughout the world, this collection offers a fascinating and detailed account of contemporary agrarian change. Contributors provide extensive evidence about how the burgeoning trade in fresh fruit and vegetables has produced a number of hidden costs – including the exploitation of foreign workers as companies seek ways of reducing labor costs, and environmental degradation as a more industrial form of agriculture takes hold. The book demonstrates that while ‘eating fresh’ might engender visions of happy and healthy consumers, a more nuanced examination of the spatio-temporal dynamics of agri-food globalization reveals an underside of social disadvantage and ecological destruction. In presenting an up-to-date and vivid account of social relations in the fresh fruit and vegetable trade, this book is a ‘must read’ for all scholars desiring a critical understanding of current global food provisioning." – Geoffrey Lawrence, Professor of Sociology, University of Queensland, Australia and President, International Rural Sociology Association.
Part 1: Introduction
1. Seasonality and Temporality in Intensive Agriculture
Jörg Gertel and Sarah Ruth Sippel
2. B/ordering the Mediterranean: Free Trade, Fresh Fruits and Fluid Fixity
Marc Boeckler and Christian Berndt
Part 2: France: Traditional Centre of Fruit and Vegetable Production
3. Shared Insecurities? Farmers and Workers in Bouches-du-Rhône
Sarah Ruth Sippel and Jörg Gertel
4. Super/markets: Beyond Buyer-drivenness in Southern France
Jörg Gertel and Sarah Ruth Sippel
5. Fruit Production in France and Argentina: Globalizing Standards and Labour Markets
Annie Lamanthe and Victor Rau
6. The Transnational Recruitment of Temporary Latino Workers in European Agriculture
7. Sans-papiers: Self-censored Social Identities of Farm Workers in Southern France
Commentary: Neoliberal Market Mystifications in the Social Costs of Eating Fresh – Philippines–Canada Comparisons
Pauline Gardiner Barber
Part 3: Spain: Symbol and Embodiment of Industrial Agriculture
8. The Political Economy of El Ejido: Genealogy of the 2000 Conflict
Ubaldo Martínez Veiga
9. The Industrial Agriculture: A ‘Model for Modernization’ from Almería?
José Á. Aznar-Sánchez, Luis J. Belmonte-Ureña and Juan J. Tapia-León
10. Mobility Partnerships and Circular Migration: Managing Seasonal Migration to Spain
Katja Lindner and Till Kathmann
11. ‘Origin Matters’: Working Conditions of Moroccans and Romanians in the Greenhouses of Almería
Pablo Pumares and Dominique Jolivet
12. ‘We Don’t have Women in Boxes’: Channelling Seasonal Mobility of Female Farmworkers between Morocco and Andalusia
Commentary: From Fresh Produce to Poultry – Shifting Labour Regimes in the Global Agri-food System
Douglas H. Constance
Part 4: Morocco: Booming Sites of Counter Seasonal Production
13. Which Agricultural Policy for which Food Security in Morocco?
14. Facilitating the Export of Fruit and Vegetables: The Role of State Institutions in Morocco
Mads Barbesgaard and Niels Fold
15. Disrupted Livelihoods? Intensive Agriculture and Labour Markets in the Moroccan Souss
Sarah Ruth Sippel
16. Labour and Gender Relations in Moroccan Strawberry Culture
Juana Moreno Nieto
17. Between Hope and Disillusionment: The Migration of Nomadic Pastoralists to Europe
18. Border Makers: Clandestine Migration from Morocco
Mustapha El Miri
Commentary: New Migration and New Communities – Social Changes Born from Agricultural Changes
Part 5: Conclusion
19. Comparative Perspective: Insights from New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme
20. Epilogue: The Social Costs of Eating Fresh
Jörg Gertel and Sarah Ruth Sippel
Jörg Gertel is Professor of Economic Geography at the University of Leipzig, Germany.
Sarah Ruth Sippel is a geographer and Senior Researcher at the Centre for Area Studies, University of Leipzig, Germany.