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Fruits of our labour: Work and organisation in the global food system

This is the first special issue of any organisation studies journal on food labour. Why is this a big deal? In this Introduction, we argue that the field should pay much more attention to the agri-food system and the work that goes into producing, distributing and consuming foodstuff. Food is such an all-important, basic ingredient to human existence, incorporating a vast web of organisational processes that are constantly changing, being contested at all scales.

Marja Spierenburg
18 December 2019
Fruits of our labour: Work and organisation in the global food system

Whether subsistence peasants, new-age community foodies, massive food logistics companies, Deliveroo dark kitchens or Uber Eats cyclists – there is a huge amount of labour everywhere in the agri-food system. Food labour is so vast, this special issue can only begin lifting the lid. In this Introduction, we provide an overview of the current scholarly work on food labour. We identify some of the historical contexts and struggles that have led to the agri-food system in existence today. We identify food labour types, particularly focusing on those that are vanishing or emerging, crucially asking why these transitions are taking place. We also engage with the various resistances expressed by people against the ever globalising agri-food system, outlining logics for the emergence of alternative food movements. Finally, we introduce each of the seven papers collated in this Special Issue, all of which, we hope, will provide food for thought to all of us who tend to have three meals a day without thinking too much about the labour that goes into our grub.

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