Sunday, February 22, 2009
Please click on the above link and read the story about the people who pick tomatoes in the winter in Florida. I'm sorry, I can't seem to help getting more and more political about food issues.
I'd heard about this situation before. I have heard, somewhere, about a group that was trying to get large grocery stores and corporations like McDonald's to pay a one cent per pound premium to better the conditions for migrant farmworkers, and that many had signed on. I'd heard that the Tomato Grower's Association of Florida was resisting the trend. But I hadn't paid a whole lot of attention, until I got this month's glossy food-porn fix in the mail. What a surprise! Thank you, Gourmet, for having the guts, the chutzpah, to publish this alarming and horrifying report. I'm sure you'll catch a lot of flak for it.
As the wife of a Mexican immigrant, and as a nurse who has worked with immigrant farmworkers in the past, I must strongly condemn the system that allows - encourages! - the virtual enslavement of poor, mostly ignorant people who are only doing what they think they must to help their families. You've probably heard before that we in the U.S. pay a smaller percentage of our income on food than any other nation in the world. Well, this is how we make that happen, people. On the backs and with the blood of desperately poor people from other countries.
Okay, rant over. What am I going to do? First off, I'm going to grow a shitload of tomatoes this year. I'm going to spend a couple of very hot weeks come August canning as many tomatoes as I can. And if I still have to buy winter tomatoes next year, I'm going to buy local hothouse tomatoes from Washington or B.C., not Florida or Mexican tomatoes.
I'm also going to this website, below, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and signing their petition to the Govorner of Florida to urge him not to tolerate slavery in the state of Florida. Won't you please do the same?