Why we don’t buy California or Mexico grown food

Nathan Wiebe

This is a short documentary by Vice News called “The Fruit of Mexico’s Cheap Labour” that we felt needed to be shared.

Farm workers in California and Mexico, almost all of them immigrants or poor people of colour, have some of the worst working conditions- low pay, no overtime, no healthcare, no vacation pay and overall some of the worst worker protection rights out of any industry.

Imagine being an immigrant farmer, working a certified organic strawberry field in the blazing hot Californian sun, all day long, battling heat stroke and exhaustion, having to endure breathing in thick wildfire smoke and getting paid the national minimum wage of $7 per hour. And that’s if you’re on the books. If you’re working under the table, which a lot of these immigrant farm workers are, you could be getting paid far less. If you think that’s inhumane, farm workers in Mexico can be paid as little as $7 PER DAY.

This is how the vast majority of the food we see in grocery stores is being produced, certified organic or not. It’s not technically slave labour, but if your options are between working the field or eating, it might as well be.

Supermarkets have done an excellent job at severing the connection between us and the people who grow our food. Because we’ve been trained to no longer ask questions abut where our food comes from, corporations have been able to slowly erode farm workers rights, benefits, pay and dignity. Why? because it’s more profitable. And they know they can get away with it because consumers like us no longer ask questions about our food.

As farmers, we know how much skill and hard work it takes to grow food. These immigrant farmers are no different than us. We grow food for our community, they grow food for the global community. The only difference is that corporations have taken away their dignity and decided that profits were more important than giving these people a living wage and healthy working conditions.

This is why we no longer buy produce imported from California, Mexico or anywhere in the global south. We eat what we and our local farmers grow instead. We eat locally and seasonally because that way, we know how our food is being grown and the people who grew it.