Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I finally finished reading the Los Angeles Times series on farm labor in Mexico.

Here's a link to a moving page of portraits of these men, women and children:

Now I sit here not knowing what to say. Pay is low, working conditions are terrible, and the housing and company stores offer too little for way too much.  And the children. The image of a small hand rapidly picking jalapenos and serranos which are then moved from container to container, through a series of wholesalers to their final retail destination, often on the West Coast, where one of our hands picks them up and puts them in a produce bag - this is what sticks with me.  If only there were a way to reach out across the many degrees of separation, touch that hand, somehow raise farm wages so that families don't depend on what children can earn, and children can go to school.

It's pretty clear to me that consumer solutions are not enough. Not shopping at Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, and the other chains which sell produce from exploitative farms would be easy. For that matter, so would not buying any produce from Mexico, just sticking to things when they are in season here. But what would these actions accomplish? How could some concerted pressure be brought to bear?

The Times series offers no ideas about how to remedy the situation.

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