I came across this really depressing but informative article on Gourmet.com about the use of slaves to harvest tomatoes. Pretty much if you eat tomatoes out of season, you’re eating food that was picked by people who are effectively slaves.
The article was published in March, but I only came across it recently while using Stumble Upon. Amazing the things I find there.
Pickers are lucky to pick a ton of tomatoes on a particular day, for which they would earn about $50. However, they have to be available even when there isn’t work, and they are generally charged outrageous rents for extremely poor housing.
They can even be beaten for being too sick to work.
Your choices matter. Pay attention to where you shop. The Campaign for Fair Food has gotten some companies to agree to give pickers a pay raise, although many farmers are refusing to cooperate or be a conduit for the raise.
At this point, Whole Foods is the only grocery chain signed on to not buy from growers who exploit workers so badly.
Almost as bad as the treatment so many workers labor under, are the people in the comments who feel they deserve such treatment for being in the United States illegally.
Yes, it’s hard to think of paying more for your food. But if you think of the people involved in the entire process of getting food to your table it might be worth it.