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In the blizzard of attention around the virtues of local food production, food writers and activists place environmental protection, animal welfare, and saving small farms at the forefront of their attention. Yet amid this turn to wholesome and responsible food choices, the lives and working conditions of farmworkers are often an afterthought.
Labor and the Locavore focuses on one of the most vibrant local food economies in the country, the Hudson Valley that supplies New York restaurants and farmers markets. Based on more than a decade’s in-depth interviews with workers, farmers, and others, Gray’s examination clearly shows how the currency of agrarian values serves to mask the labor concerns of an already hidden workforce.
She also explores the historical roots of farmworkers’ predicaments and examines the ethnic shift from Black to Latino workers. With an analysis that can be applied to local food concerns around the country, this book challenges the reader to consider how the mentality of the alternative food movements implies a comprehensive food ethic that addresses workers’ concerns.
"By teasing out the complications of a single sliver of the 'alternative' food system, Labor and the Locavore points the way forward for foodies."
"Gray is a nuanced, thorough and evenhanded writer, which makes her argument all the more convincing."
— NY 1
"As Margaret Gray discusses in her excellent book, 'Labor and the Locavore,' we cannot achieve ethical consistency in producing food without paying attention to labor. . . . For food to be affordable, people — all people — must earn living wages; alternatively, good food must be subsidized. Both conditions would be even better."
— Mark Bittman
"Gray deftly crafts her arguments . . . This book is exceptionally researched and would make an excellent and challenging addition to
undergraduate courses on sustainability as well as graduate courses in public scholarship."
— Russell C. Hedberg II
"An inspiring example to current and future scholars of food and agriculture."
— C. Clare Hinrichs
"Gray illuminates issues that even the most thoughtful among us have been turning a blind eye toward regarding the experience of many farm workers."
— Suzanne Cope
"An important contribution to the discussion of alternatives to the conventional food system."
— Fred Magdoff
"Gray has shifted our discussion of food ethics back to the humans who, by their hands, give us our daily bread."
— Charles Thompson Jr.,
"[An] excellent book . . . broad and balanced."
— Kia Sanger
"Labor and the Locavore represents a powerful corrective to a major shortcoming in the food politics movement. . . . Gray’s
work shines a bright light on precisely this side of the equation and highlights the need for a comprehensive food ethic that encompasses both environmental and social justice."
— Noah Zerbe
"Gray exposes the stark reality of farm labor conditions in the Hudson Valley’s regional food economy . . . An important contribution to the literature on social justice in agriculture."
— Christy Getz
"Gripping reading . . . Gray’s success in uncovering injustice within the locavore movement in the Hudson River Valley is irrefutable."
— Eric Buzzetti
"Labor and the Locavore is a timely and important antidote to much of today’s popular food writing. . . . I definitely recommend the book."
— Julie Guthman
"Gray compiled a vivid picture of the living and working conditions of farmworkers in the Hudson Valley. . . . She reminds us that a progressive transformation of our global and local food systems cannot be achieved without securing justice for all food workers."
— Tom Angotti
"Gray smartly argues that we must attend to the working conditions of individuals employed by farmers. . . . this book will be an eye-opening experience for anyone who cares about what they eat."
— Abby Dubisar
"Labor and the Locavore combines a wide-ranging historical perspective with the insights of contemporary fieldwork... Gray's tenacious commitment to examining the broad context of persistence and change in the injustices experienced by Northeast farmworkers offers an inspiring example to current and future scholars of food and agriculture."
— Agricultural History