Food provisioning strategies among Latinx farm workers in southwestern Idaho
Food provisioning refers to the mental, physical and emotional labor involved in providing food for oneself and one’s family. The labor of food provisioning has been found to be made more difficult by a number of factors, including gender, socioeconomic status, age, and geography. However, little research has been done examining the labor of food provisioning among farm workers, a significantly marginalized population in the United States. In order to examine the food provisioning strategies and struggles of farm workers, we have been conducting pilot research with Latinx agricultural workers in southwestern Idaho. Employing a range of qualitative and quantitative methods, we examine the various strategies that farm workers use to provide food for themselves and their families, including accessing food banks, utilizing food stamps, purchasing groceries and accepting food from friends, family and employers. We consider this from a wider lens of “caring labor” (Carney in The unending hunger: Tracing women and food insecurity across borders, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2015). In addition, we explore food provisioning strategies in the context of economic and demographic changes in Idaho. We observe the ways in which changing crop patterns, in particular the growth the hops industry, relates to a transition in the labor force, especially an increase in women farm workers. We have also observed a shift away from employing migrant farm labor and towards the employment of “settled” Latinx residents from surrounding communities. These changes all influence the labor of food provisioning for rural Idaho Latinx families.
KeywordsFarm workers Food provisioning Gender in agriculture Agrifood system change
Funding for this project was provided by the College of Arts and Sciences, Casita Nepantla and The School of Public Service at Boise State University. The authors would like to thank undergraduate research assistants Clariza Arteaga and Anna Zigray for their work on this project. They would also like to thank the feedback provided by the blind reviewers.
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