Alternative Food Networks and the Labor of Food Provisioning: A Third Shift?

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Scholars have increasingly examined the sphere of consumption in alternative food networks (AFNs). However, research has largely overlooked women's experiences as food provisioners. This is problematic, as AFNs prescribe practices that could be expanding women's food provisioning labor. This article addresses this gap in the literature by examining how the physical labor of food provisioning varies for women engaged in AFNs relative to those not engaged in AFNs, and how diverse AFNs as well as socioeconomic status (SES) influence the labor of food provisioning for women engaged in AFNs. Using data from the 2012 Ohio Survey of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Issues, I demonstrate that women engaged in AFNs, relative to women not engaged in AFNs, exert more physical labor in food provisioning, that prioritizing local food systems involves more physical labor than prioritizing organic foods, and that women with lower household incomes who prioritize organic foods exert greater physical labor in food provisioning than women with higher incomes who prioritize organic foods. I conclude by arguing that women who prioritize local food systems are engaging in a third shift and that greater attention should be paid to the role of SES in shaping women's experiences as food provisioners in AFNs.