“We used to own our slaves. Now we just rent them.”
The words of a farmer to famed journalist Edward R. Morrow in 1960 are a haunting reminder that we are not so far removed from our past as we might think. More than a thousand migrant farm workers in south Florida have been freed from slavery in the past 15 or so years. Actual slavery, not just tough working conditions. When you are held and forced to work against your will, beaten and locked away in guarded enclosures at night, you’re not a free man.
The life of the tomato field worker is improving overall, but there is still a great deal that needs to be done.
What Can You Do?
- Ask your local supermarket or food service establishment if they support the Campaign for Fair Food and if they don’t, encourage them to do so or consider taking your business elsewhere.
- Grow your own food. No, this singular act will not put a stop to the blatant abuse of migrant farm workers, but you will ensure that your money is not supporting the tomato trade that barely pays these workers at all, and certainly does not pay them what would be considered a living wage.
- Speak out. Tell everyone you know about the atrocities that are happening in 2012 in the “land of the free”. This story has been being reported by small newspaper journalists since the 1940s but only in the past few years is it gaining any large-scale attention at all. Don’t let that momentum fade away.