Pay it Forward Friday with The Harvest/La Cosecha

Jul 2012
This time of year has everyone thinking about fresh produce and the bounty of  farmland in America. There is however, an underbelly at work that most of us are not even aware of.  I recently read The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan.  It took me on an unforgettable look into the labor costs of the American food industry.  I honestly will never look at a tomato the same way again. I highly recommend it if you are interested in really knowing where your food comes from.

Pay if Forward Friday has me looking at a gutsy documentary directed by Roberto Romano about who picks your food and feeds America.  The award winning film tells the story of three determined children caught in the cycle of poverty, working the farms of this country.  Their heartbreaking situation illustrates the life of an over 400,000 children who work in the American fields to harvest the food we all eat. Actor and activist Eva Longoria joined the film making team and helped find funding to get the story told.
Efforts to increase protection for child farm workers have been defeated again and again, and the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment although introduced to Congress 6 times in the last 10 years, has never made it out of committee.  It doesn’t seem unreasonable to prohibit children under 14 from working on farms, or to limit the hours that 14 and 15 year olds can work during school weeks and vacations.  It seems outrageous that this bill can’t make any headway!
What can you do?
  • at the very least-take the two minutes to view the trailer and think about the issue. By all means see the movie if you have the opportunity.
  • read The American Way of Eating and educate yourself about what we eat and how it gets there
  • speak with your pocketbook-buy local whenever possible, speak to people behind the fruits and vegetables at Farmers Markets and know where your food is coming from
  • think twice when you shop at big box stores, and if the price of those tomatoes is too good to be true, let your mind wander back to the fields and to the picker who put the food on the shelf

According to research at the University of California Davis, increasing the incomes of migrant farm workers by 40% {on average, they make less than $17,500/year-well below the poverty level for a family of 4} would add just $15.00 to the average American  household budget for fruits and vegetables. Don’t you think that’s money well spent?