Barry Estabrook is a journalist who wrote an exposé for Gourmet magazine published in 2009 on the near slave-like conditions faced by farm workers in the tomato growing trade of Florida. Not satisfied with simply making the public aware of the extent of the problem, Estabrook went on to author the critically acclaimed book Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit. I was lucky enough to share a platform with Mr. Estabrook last year when we both spoke in Birmingham, Alabama at a festival called Eat, Drink, Read, Write and his talk was one of the most well-attended of the event for good reason.
Estabrook’s efforts have assisted the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in gaining much-needed awareness to the issues faced by thousands of workers, and in November of last year the Florida Growers Tomato Exchange finally signed an agreement that put them arm-in-arm with the CIW. The agreement has yet to be fully enacted, but it is currently being ‘field tested’.
What follows is a full-length video of Barry Estabrook’s talk at Harvard Law School in September of last year on his book, tomato farming, and the often heartbreaking world of the migrant farm worker. Despite the tremendous strides made to improve the piece rate received by tomato pickers, there is still a great deal of work to be done. Thanks to people like Mr. Estabrook more and more people are becoming aware of the issue every day.