1st Edition

Seasonal Workers in Mediterranean Agriculture The Social Costs of Eating Fresh

Edited By Jörg Gertel, Sarah Ruth Sippel Copyright 2014
    294 Pages
    by Routledge

    312 Pages 29 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.

    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

    Béatrice Mésini

    7. Sans-papiers: Self-censored Social Identities of Farm Workers in Southern France 

    Swanie Potot 

    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 

    Emmanuelle Hellio 

    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? 

    Najib Akesbi 

    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 

    Mohamed Mahdi 

    18. Border Makers: Clandestine Migration from Morocco 

    Mustapha El Miri 

    Commentary: New Migration and New Communities – Social Changes Born from Agricultural Changes 

    Peggy Petrzelka 

    Part 5: Conclusion 

    19. Comparative Perspective: Insights from New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme 

    Nick Lewis 

    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.

    "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.