2016) Rock Stars and Bad Apples: Moral Economies of Alternative Food Networks and Precarious Farm Work Regimes. Antipode, doi: 10.1111/anti.12221., , and (
Alternative food networks face both challenges and opportunities in rethinking the role of precarious employment in food system transformation. We explore how alternative food networks in British Columbia, Canada have engaged with flexible and precarious work regimes for farmworkers, including both temporary migrant workers and un(der)paid agricultural interns. Based on in-depth interviews, participant observation and document analysis, we find that alternative food actors often normalize a precarious work regime using a moral economy frame. This framing describes precarious farm employment as either a necessary challenge in the transition to sustainability, or merely involving a few individual “bad apple” farmers. Further, this framing involves an aversion to “one-size-fits-all” regulation by the state in favor of consumer-driven regulation of labor standards. Our analysis suggests that a moral economy framing can obscure systemic inequities in precarious farm employment and dampen the impetus for structural change through collective food movement organizing.