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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The greenhouse tomato industry in Delta, British Columbia Mendis, Asoka


This focus of this dissertation is the greenhouse tomato industry in Delta, British Columbia. Using a conceptual framework assembled from Regulation theory (including the concept of food regimes) and the political economy of agriculture, I explore the origins and development of the industry in Delta. I argue that sub-national regulation has historically played a pivotal role in the agricultural development of the region. The impact of such regulation on the greenhouse industry, however, is contingent upon the specific regime of accumulation. I make the case, for example, that regulation instituted in the early 20th century under an extensive regime of accumulation acts as a fetter on the industry under a post-Fordist regime of accumulation. Furthermore, I make the argument that the emergence and consolidation of Delta’s greenhouse tomato industry can best be understood through the deployment of the concept of food regimes. Thus the local industry can be seen as part of global trends in food production and consumption and which have come to characterise the third food regime. In this thesis I also examine the ‘nature’ of the tomato and of greenhouse production. I demonstrate that, beginning in the mid-19th century, the tomato has been transformed into an input amenable to such industrial processes as canning. Using the conceptual tools offered by the political economy of agriculture, I further argue that the technique of greenhouse production is a result of the process of ‘appropriation’. That is, the discrete elements of the agricultural production process have been appropriated by industrial capital and reassembled as a technologically intensive system of plant production. However, and using the case study, I illustrate how this process of appropriation has created a new set of ‘natural’ obstacles within a fairly distinctive form of industrial agriculture.

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