Material World
anarcho-queer:

Indian Tea Workers Set Fire To Boss For Being Exploited
Over 1,000 tea workers in the India state of Assam have gathered outside the home of the plantation owner as part on an on-going labour dispute. Following shots being fired from the plantation owner’s house, the workers set his house and cars alight. The plantation owner, Mridul Bhattacharya, has a history of exploiting and killing workers.
An unnamed female tea worker was quoted as saying that:


“We all came and attacked the bungalow and set it on fire. They deserved to be killed as the planter has exploited us for a long time and tortured us for petty things”


A local newspaper reported that the violence was sparked by the plantation owner and exploiter Mridul Bhattacharya ordering 10 workers to leave their homes with immediate effect, and the detention of several workers by the police on unspecified charges. The workers claim that Bhattacharya had not paid them their wages that had been due in December, and all the other issues have stemmed from workers complaining about the non-payment.
When workers refused to leave their homes (owned by the plantation) he had them arrested and imprisoned. An unnamed worker said that:

“Some workers met Bhattacharya Wednesday morning and requested him to get the arrested labourers released. He, however, did not pay any heed to the request and threatened the workers of dire consequences. This angered the labourers and they took the extreme step,”

It is reported that Bhattacharya has been engaging in similar practices at his other plantations. Two years ago, during another Labour dispute, Bhattacharya opened fire on a crowd who were protesting an attack on a female worker at the plantation.
Another local newspaper described the incident involving Bhattacharya:

“Bhattacharya, who also owned the Rani Organic Tea Estate, some eight km from here, was booked for the murder of a 15-year-old youth in 2010. He was later released on bail in the murder case. The 2010 incident took place when a group of villagers staged a protest in front of his house after he raised objections against the use of a road inside the Rani estate by the locals and harassed a woman. Bhattacharya opened fire at the protesters, in which the boy sustained bullet injuries and died.
Bhattacharya, a mechanical engineer by training, was from Tezpur. He had worked for many tea estates in Assam before winning a contract worth several million rupees for drilling and laying of pipelines in the state in the 1980s.”


Several other attacks on the bosses at tea plantations have been reported over the last couple of years, and similar incidents in other sectors are becoming more commonplace.
Between the months of June and October of 2012, at least 168 tea workers died of water-bourne diseases. The state government’s order says that if more die, proceedings will be initiated under the Indian penal code.

anarcho-queer:

Indian Tea Workers Set Fire To Boss For Being Exploited

Over 1,000 tea workers in the India state of Assam have gathered outside the home of the plantation owner as part on an on-going labour dispute. Following shots being fired from the plantation owner’s house, the workers set his house and cars alight. The plantation owner, Mridul Bhattacharya, has a history of exploiting and killing workers.

An unnamed female tea worker was quoted as saying that:

“We all came and attacked the bungalow and set it on fire. They deserved to be killed as the planter has exploited us for a long time and tortured us for petty things”

A local newspaper reported that the violence was sparked by the plantation owner and exploiter Mridul Bhattacharya ordering 10 workers to leave their homes with immediate effect, and the detention of several workers by the police on unspecified charges. The workers claim that Bhattacharya had not paid them their wages that had been due in December, and all the other issues have stemmed from workers complaining about the non-payment.

When workers refused to leave their homes (owned by the plantation) he had them arrested and imprisoned. An unnamed worker said that:

Some workers met Bhattacharya Wednesday morning and requested him to get the arrested labourers released. He, however, did not pay any heed to the request and threatened the workers of dire consequences. This angered the labourers and they took the extreme step,

It is reported that Bhattacharya has been engaging in similar practices at his other plantations. Two years ago, during another Labour dispute, Bhattacharya opened fire on a crowd who were protesting an attack on a female worker at the plantation.

Another local newspaper described the incident involving Bhattacharya:

Bhattacharya, who also owned the Rani Organic Tea Estate, some eight km from here, was booked for the murder of a 15-year-old youth in 2010. He was later released on bail in the murder case. The 2010 incident took place when a group of villagers staged a protest in front of his house after he raised objections against the use of a road inside the Rani estate by the locals and harassed a woman. Bhattacharya opened fire at the protesters, in which the boy sustained bullet injuries and died.

Bhattacharya, a mechanical engineer by training, was from Tezpur. He had worked for many tea estates in Assam before winning a contract worth several million rupees for drilling and laying of pipelines in the state in the 1980s.

Several other attacks on the bosses at tea plantations have been reported over the last couple of years, and similar incidents in other sectors are becoming more commonplace.

Between the months of June and October of 2012, at least 168 tea workers died of water-bourne diseases. The state government’s order says that if more die, proceedings will be initiated under the Indian penal code.

Hundreds of farmworkers in Spain occupy a Duke’s estate to turn it into a collective agricultural project!

noneofthismatters:

Spanish workers occupy a Dukes estate and turn it into a farm

Earlier this week in Andalusia, hundreds of unemployed farmworkers broke through a fence that surrounded an estate owned by the Duke of Segorbe, and claimed it as their own. This is the latest in a series of farm occupations across the region within the last month.

Their aim is to create a communal agricultural project - similar to other occupied farms, in order to and breathe new life into a region that has an unemployment rate of over 40%

Addressing the occupiers, Diego Canamero, a member of the Andalusian Union of Workers, said that:

Quote:
“We’re here to denounce a social class who leave such a place to waste”.

The lavish well-kept gardens, house, and pool, are left empty, as the Duke lives in Seville, more than 60 miles away. The occupation is the latest example of the smouldering class tensions that are developing across the area.

An unemployed farm worker said that:

Quote:
“Nobody lives here now, but the sprinklers are functioning and keeping the lawns beautifully green,” he observed. “Just imagine how many farming wages you could pay instead of using the money to water empty gardens.”

As well as suffering from the austerity measures that the rest of Spain has to deal with, the farming community are suffering further, due to wealthy farm owners choosing to accept large sums of money ‘not’ to grow crops, which then translates to massive job losses across the sector.

Canamero said that:

Quote:
“European subsidies reinforced landed interests because the payments’ value was based on the size of the landholding rather than on its productivity. “There is zero incentive for these already wealthy owners to grow anything,”

He added:

Quote:
“We’re not anarchists looking for conflict, but our claims are similar to those of the 1930s, because the land is, unfortunately, under the control now of even fewer people than at that time.”

The Andalusian police have not yet responded to the occupation, but have evicted occupiers from other farms in Andalusia

The following is a clip from one of the other occupied farms.



YES!!

curate:

In summer 2011, I joined two dozen other youth food justice leaders from across the country on Food & Freedom Rides. We rode over 3,000 miles through the South, Midwest, and California meeting youth and communities most affected by our industrial food system and creating the solutions most needed addressing food insecurity, justice, and sovereignty.
On Friday, August 5th, two days before the Food and Freedom Ride began, one of the riders, Courtney Oats, was arrested on a charge of “disorderly conduct” in her hometown of Eupora, Mississippi, before she could even join us. The arrest occurred at her sister’s 14th birthday party in front of 50 children. Tasers were drawn and K-9 units were called in. More of the story here. These are my reflections of this moment during our ride.

Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me round Turn me round, turn me round Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me round We gonna keep on walkin’, keep on talkin’ Marchin’ up to Freedom Land Ain’t gonna let injustice turn me round Turn me round, turn me round Ain’t gonna let injustice turn me round We gonna keep on walkin’, keep on talkin’ Marchin’ up to Freedom Land Ain’t gonna let unreal food turn me round Turn me round, turn me round, Ain’t gonna let unreal food turn me round We gonna keep on walkin’, keep on talkin’ Riding’ up to Food and Freedom Land

I saw injustice. I see passion.
I saw Courtney Oats, a young African-American woman, in Eupora, Mississippi, just hours after two nights in jail. She had been unjustly charged for distributing the peace, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct after being followed by police putting up fliers for these rides that I helped design. I heard anger in her voice, tension in her shoulders, and tears rolling down her cheeks. I cringed, hearing her say that racial injustice is still a problem in her community and her mom exclaiming, “We need help!”
Why do we still live in a racially-divided world when I want to look beyond the color of your skin? It was then I realized food justice is racial injustice. Food justice is justice for all.
We need freedom to have food and freedom. We broke ground on a community garden that day. I saw dark, rich soil, pecan trees, and smiles all around. I heard laughter, jokes, and youth sharing with each other how to grow food.
That space is sacred, away from the steel bars, security guards, and inhospitality.
At the end of the day, I offered seeds that my family and I have saved, and told Courtney, “With sun, water, soil, seeds, and love, this garden will grow. With this garden, you will grow, and your community will grow. All of this will protect and nourish you.”
I see passion in the communities most hurt like Courtney’s healing all injustice with real food, their bodies and minds.
(via I Saw Injustice. I See Passion. | Turning Wheel Media)

curate:

In summer 2011, I joined two dozen other youth food justice leaders from across the country on Food & Freedom Rides. We rode over 3,000 miles through the South, Midwest, and California meeting youth and communities most affected by our industrial food system and creating the solutions most needed addressing food insecurity, justice, and sovereignty.

On Friday, August 5th, two days before the Food and Freedom Ride began, one of the riders, Courtney Oats, was arrested on a charge of “disorderly conduct” in her hometown of Eupora, Mississippi, before she could even join us. The arrest occurred at her sister’s 14th birthday party in front of 50 children. Tasers were drawn and K-9 units were called in. More of the story here. These are my reflections of this moment during our ride.

Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me round
Turn me round, turn me round
Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me round
We gonna keep on walkin’, keep on talkin’
Marchin’ up to Freedom Land

Ain’t gonna let injustice turn me round
Turn me round, turn me round
Ain’t gonna let injustice turn me round
We gonna keep on walkin’, keep on talkin’
Marchin’ up to Freedom Land

Ain’t gonna let unreal food turn me round
Turn me round, turn me round,
Ain’t gonna let unreal food turn me round
We gonna keep on walkin’, keep on talkin’
Riding’ up to Food and Freedom Land

I saw injustice. I see passion.

I saw Courtney Oats, a young African-American woman, in Eupora, Mississippi, just hours after two nights in jail. She had been unjustly charged for distributing the peace, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct after being followed by police putting up fliers for these rides that I helped design. I heard anger in her voice, tension in her shoulders, and tears rolling down her cheeks. I cringed, hearing her say that racial injustice is still a problem in her community and her mom exclaiming, “We need help!”

Why do we still live in a racially-divided world when I want to look beyond the color of your skin? It was then I realized food justice is racial injustice. Food justice is justice for all.

We need freedom to have food and freedom. We broke ground on a community garden that day. I saw dark, rich soil, pecan trees, and smiles all around. I heard laughter, jokes, and youth sharing with each other how to grow food.

That space is sacred, away from the steel bars, security guards, and inhospitality.

At the end of the day, I offered seeds that my family and I have saved, and told Courtney, “With sun, water, soil, seeds, and love, this garden will grow. With this garden, you will grow, and your community will grow. All of this will protect and nourish you.”

I see passion in the communities most hurt like Courtney’s healing all injustice with real food, their bodies and minds.

(via I Saw Injustice. I See Passion. | Turning Wheel Media)

etiquette-etc:

Date: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Time: 12:00pm - 1:15pm
Location: 1177 West Hastings, Vancouver, BC

For years, the rights of migrant agriculture workers have been abused and neglected across Canadian fields. What’s worse, employers are able to treat migrant workers as disposable thanks to the support and complicity of the workers’ own governments. In particular, the Mexican government has played a shameful role by threatening and blacklisting workers who decide to speak up or seek help.

Seeing how institutions that we trust to be impartial and do justice are, at best, slow to address these issues, on May 23, 2012 we will come together to stage a community trial. This will be a light-hearted street theater event where the case of these blacklisting activities will be presented by Raj Chouhan, acting as our community’s lawyer, who will advocate for migrant workers’ rights to be respected. The defense lawyer, Mr. Dee Plomat, will present the perspective of the Mexican Consulate. Then, a panel of three community judges -Jim Sinclair of the BC Federation of Labour, Joey Hartman of the Vancouver and Labour District Council, and Geoff Meggs, of the City of Vancouver- will help guide the dialogue with their observations and deliberations. At the end, the community will get to vote and issue its verdict.

As concerned members of the community, who are not willing to stand by while migrant workers from Mexico suffer and continue being treated as second-class members of our communities, we are sure you will come with us! Feel free to bring noise makers and signs, and be prepared to write your thoughts and leave messages to the Mexican Consulate.

What: Community Trial on the Blacklisting of Mexican Migrant Agriculture Workers by the Mexican Consulate in Vancouver
When: May 23, 2012, 12:00 PM
Where: In front of the Mexican Consulate (1177 West Hastings)

Organizers: AWA-Surrey, AWA-Abbotsford and UFCW Local 1518

Some background
Every year, thousands of migrant agriculture workers from Mexico come to work in Canadian fields under the Seasonal Agriculture Workers Program (SAWP). Their contributions to Canada’s economy are tremendous: they work for up to 15 hours a day, 7 days a week; they pay taxes, Employment Insurance, and contribute to the Canadian Pension Plan. Unfortunately, they are not treated with the dignity or respect that we think every worker in Canada is entitled to. When workers face sickness, injuries in the workplace, or abuse from employers, they are virtually alone, their own government rarely defending them.

In particular, the Mexican Consulate of Vancouver has a practice of giving the workers “workshops” when they arrive to Canada, where they tell them that if they complain about their working conditions, cause trouble to their employers, or speak to anybody other than their employers they will lose their jobs. Many workers have in fact lost their jobs and have been blacklisted because they sought help, got sick, or asked questions about their rights. In response, UFCW & the AWA sued the Mexican Consulate of Vancouver, as well as Floralia Farms & Sidhu Nurseries before the Labour Board on May 9, 2011. During the hearings, the Mexican government claimed diplomatic immunity, and is betting that this will allow them to remove themselves from the case.

UFCW & the AWA have partnered with faith-based organizations, members of the Latin American community and the community at large, academics, unions, the media, and all people of kind hearts to denounce these cynical arguments. Together, we have staged 6 events in front of the Mexican Consulate and the Labour Board, as well as marches and events in Mexico, to denounce the Mexican Consulate’s activities. From a Migrant Workers Rights’ Funeral to writing letters to Santa for the rights of migrants to be respected, to a New Year’s wish for migrant workers, the Community Trial is a continuation of this international campaign against the blacklisting of migrant agriculture workers. Please visit ufcw.ca/stoptheblacklist for more information.
occupyallstreets:

Whistleblowing Wednesday: Children As Young As Six Harvest 25 Percent of U.S. Crops
Knowing the farmer who grows your food has become an important tenet of the modern food movement, but precious little attention is paid to the people who actually pick the crops or “process” the chickens or fillet the fish. U Roberto Romano’s poignant film, The Harvest/La Cosecha (2011), being screened across the country for Farmworker Awareness Week (March 24-29), informs us that nearly 500,000 children as young as six harvest up to 25 percent of all crops in the United States.
What’s illegal in most countries is permitted here. Child migrant labor has been documented in the 48 contiguous states. Seasonal work originates in the southernmost states in late winter where it is warm and migrates north as the weather changes. Every few weeks as families move, children leave school and friends behind. If you’ve had onions (Texas), cucumbers (Ohio or Michigan), peppers (Tennessee), grapes (California), mushrooms (Pennsylvania), beets (Minnesota), or cherries (Washington), you’ve probably eaten food harvested by children.
This isn’t a slavery issue, or an immigration issue per se. What’s remarkable is that most of the migrant child farmworkers are American citizens trying to help their families. This is a poverty issue and it gets to the heart of what we, as consumers, see as the “right price” to pay for food. 
Children earn about $1,000 per year for working an average of 30 hours a week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. When you consider that the average annual pay for a migrant family of four is $12,500-$14,500, it’s apparent why some families feel they have no choice but to bring their children into the fields with them. Half of these kids will not graduate from high school because they’re always moving around, perpetuating the cycle of poverty that caused them to be day laborers in the first place.
Read More

so much about this!
eta: i don’t wanna tag this class, rather than labour, migrant etc
Being back in food security- peasant-farm networks for the 1st time since I was a kid in a [white, australian] farmhand family, is really prompting clarity on how argrian class is it’s own type of class, distinct from - and usually the poor, browner cousin of - much of what online type class talk is about. 
And it’s at different stages in various countries to - depending whether the country is collapsing back into feudalism or hardly ever left or still has large peasant populations.
so of course it’s about migration or at least race [depending on where]. and, if not exactly the popular image of slavery, at least about families of landless peasant status working in entire economies where no one takes for granted the wealthier white nations benchmarks of class with citizen benefits & urban post-industrialized consumerism.
Marxism has such focus on definition, on being able to stage ‘war’ while ultimately remaining secure within a very industrialized, politically stable, unstated white, culturally homogenous, and family politics invisible framework. Which was never true for Marxists realities either, to be fair.
But there is a sense, to class warriors in western white societies since, that society just exists, classes are layers within it and the issue is fighting for a piece of the pie with room for only one true class champion [you don’t want to be too high, or to low, in Marx’s moral code].
Which leaves little room for the agrarian working poor who even his class warriors prefer to undervalue. Especially if they’re also migrants, especially if they’re also working as whole families not ‘male adult ideal labour subjects’.
They can’t avoid exposing the contradictions of western white Marxist type ‘class warriors’. They challenge not just class, but the single issue class warriors whole assumptions about western society just existing in the background of their class war, by simply existing themselves. They live extremely hard working poverty that’s less lumpenprole, than a limbo labour state between multiple unstable economies and unwelcoming societies.
Some people online think that just looking at this with also race politics, also rural politics, also whichever politics until you got your intersectional checklists covered - addresses this. but it doesn’t automatically.
because I see plenty people doing that, like trying to copy one of the WOC who is good at it, still using class like it can only mean the Marx kind. Then still getting angry at the person for having contractions in their argrarian experience. Or saying they get it, then minimizing how that particular farm labour childhood shapes education, status, expectations, social norms etc. - based on their experiences as urban marginal poor. 
So they still do things like judging these parents with ‘the simple solution is for them to not work - any parent who would allow this is wrong’ . Which, aside from being impractical - is promoting a notion about who can be proud of their family, and their labours, which is imo hard for some kids to reconcille when they do grow up.
i wonder if this is why even the ones who have or get citizenship, then get the scholarships, have trouble with ambition.  Like lots of ethical conflict, and social anxiety about work, and the ties you’d have to make for social mobility to sustain that work.
this is rambling. as always there’s more to make sense of than i think i can articulate well.
eta2: why is it called whistleblow, who are you meant to blow the whistle on? Yourself, if you eat? I loved unionism and what ‘class war’ i was able to accomplish doing it but…bloody class warriors and not dealing with farm labour. 

occupyallstreets:

Whistleblowing Wednesday: Children As Young As Six Harvest 25 Percent of U.S. Crops

Knowing the farmer who grows your food has become an important tenet of the modern food movement, but precious little attention is paid to the people who actually pick the crops or “process” the chickens or fillet the fish. U Roberto Romano’s poignant film, The Harvest/La Cosecha (2011), being screened across the country for Farmworker Awareness Week (March 24-29), informs us that nearly 500,000 children as young as six harvest up to 25 percent of all crops in the United States.

What’s illegal in most countries is permitted here. Child migrant labor has been documented in the 48 contiguous states. Seasonal work originates in the southernmost states in late winter where it is warm and migrates north as the weather changes. Every few weeks as families move, children leave school and friends behind. If you’ve had onions (Texas), cucumbers (Ohio or Michigan), peppers (Tennessee), grapes (California), mushrooms (Pennsylvania), beets (Minnesota), or cherries (Washington), you’ve probably eaten food harvested by children.

This isn’t a slavery issue, or an immigration issue per se. What’s remarkable is that most of the migrant child farmworkers are American citizens trying to help their families. This is a poverty issue and it gets to the heart of what we, as consumers, see as the “right price” to pay for food.

Children earn about $1,000 per year for working an average of 30 hours a week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. When you consider that the average annual pay for a migrant family of four is $12,500-$14,500, it’s apparent why some families feel they have no choice but to bring their children into the fields with them. Half of these kids will not graduate from high school because they’re always moving around, perpetuating the cycle of poverty that caused them to be day laborers in the first place.

Read More

so much about this!

eta: i don’t wanna tag this class, rather than labour, migrant etc

Being back in food security- peasant-farm networks for the 1st time since I was a kid in a [white, australian] farmhand family, is really prompting clarity on how argrian class is it’s own type of class, distinct from - and usually the poor, browner cousin of - much of what online type class talk is about. 

And it’s at different stages in various countries to - depending whether the country is collapsing back into feudalism or hardly ever left or still has large peasant populations.

so of course it’s about migration or at least race [depending on where]. and, if not exactly the popular image of slavery, at least about families of landless peasant status working in entire economies where no one takes for granted the wealthier white nations benchmarks of class with citizen benefits & urban post-industrialized consumerism.

Marxism has such focus on definition, on being able to stage ‘war’ while ultimately remaining secure within a very industrialized, politically stable, unstated white, culturally homogenous, and family politics invisible framework. Which was never true for Marxists realities either, to be fair.

But there is a sense, to class warriors in western white societies since, that society just exists, classes are layers within it and the issue is fighting for a piece of the pie with room for only one true class champion [you don’t want to be too high, or to low, in Marx’s moral code].

Which leaves little room for the agrarian working poor who even his class warriors prefer to undervalue. Especially if they’re also migrants, especially if they’re also working as whole families not ‘male adult ideal labour subjects’.

They can’t avoid exposing the contradictions of western white Marxist type ‘class warriors’. They challenge not just class, but the single issue class warriors whole assumptions about western society just existing in the background of their class war, by simply existing themselves. They live extremely hard working poverty that’s less lumpenprole, than a limbo labour state between multiple unstable economies and unwelcoming societies.

Some people online think that just looking at this with also race politics, also rural politics, also whichever politics until you got your intersectional checklists covered - addresses this. but it doesn’t automatically.

because I see plenty people doing that, like trying to copy one of the WOC who is good at it, still using class like it can only mean the Marx kind. Then still getting angry at the person for having contractions in their argrarian experience. Or saying they get it, then minimizing how that particular farm labour childhood shapes education, status, expectations, social norms etc. - based on their experiences as urban marginal poor.

So they still do things like judging these parents with ‘the simple solution is for them to not work - any parent who would allow this is wrong’ . Which, aside from being impractical - is promoting a notion about who can be proud of their family, and their labours, which is imo hard for some kids to reconcille when they do grow up.

i wonder if this is why even the ones who have or get citizenship, then get the scholarships, have trouble with ambition.  Like lots of ethical conflict, and social anxiety about work, and the ties you’d have to make for social mobility to sustain that work.

this is rambling. as always there’s more to make sense of than i think i can articulate well.

eta2: why is it called whistleblow, who are you meant to blow the whistle on? Yourself, if you eat? I loved unionism and what ‘class war’ i was able to accomplish doing it but…bloody class warriors and not dealing with farm labour. 

When the Uprooted Put Down Roots

ruthdesouza:

How fantastic is this?

“New Roots, with 85 growers from 12 countries, is one of more than 50 community farms dedicated to refugee agriculture, an entrepreneurial movement spreading across the country. American agriculture has historically been forged by newcomers, like the Scandinavians who helped settle the Great Plains; today’s growers are more likely to be rural subsistence farmers from Africa and Asia, resettled in and around cities from New York, Burlington, Vt., and Lowell, Mass., to Minneapolis, Phoenix and San Diego.

With language and cultural hurdles, and the need to gain access to land, financing and marketing, farm ownership for refugees can be very difficult. Programs like New Roots, which provide training in soil, irrigation techniques and climate, “help refugees make the leap from community gardens to independent farms,” said Hugh Joseph, an assistant professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts, which advises 28 “incubator” farms representing hundreds of small-scale producers.”

Awesome. This reflects the interests expressed by recent refugees at our community farm also, especially women from Sudan who had some prior agricultural experience in similar landscapes and have children to support.


Food industry workers are also bearing the brunt of the system’s recent changes. During the 1970s, meatpackers were among America’s highest-paid industrial workers; today they are among the lowest paid. Thanks to the growth of fast-food chains, the wages of restaurant workers have fallen, too. The restaurant industry has long been the largest employer of minimum-wage workers. Since 1968, thanks in part to the industry’s lobbying efforts, the real value of the minimum wage has dropped by 29 percent.

Migrant farmworkers have been hit especially hard. They pick the fresh fruits and vegetables considered the foundation of a healthy diet, but they are hardly well-rewarded for their back-breaking labor. The wages of some migrants, adjusted for inflation, have dropped by more than 50 percent since the late 1970s. Many grape-pickers in California now earn less than their counterparts did a generation ago, when misery in the fields inspired Cesar Chavez to start the United Farm Workers Union.

While workers are earning less, consumers are paying for this industrial food system with their health. Young children, the poor and people of color are being harmed the most. During the past 40 years, the obesity rate among American preschoolers has doubled. Among children ages 6 to 11, it has tripled. Obesity has been linked to asthma, cancer, heart disease and diabetes, among other ailments. Two-thirds of American adults are obese or overweight, and economists from Cornell and Lehigh universities have estimated that obesity is now responsible for 17 percent of the nation’s annual medical costs, or roughly $168 billion.

African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic whites, and more likely to be poor. As upper-middle-class consumers increasingly seek out healthier foods, fast-food chains are targeting low-income minority communities — much like tobacco companies did when wealthy and well-educated people began to quit smoking.

Some aspects of today’s food movement do smack of elitism, and if left unchecked they could sideline the movement or make it irrelevant. Consider the expensive meals and obscure ingredients favored by a number of celebrity chefs, the snobbery that often oozes from restaurant connoisseurs, and the obsessive interest in exotic cooking techniques among a certain type of gourmand.

Those things may be irritating. But they generally don’t sicken or kill people. And our current industrial food system does.

This.

So many ‘food ethics is elitism’ articles are self perpetuating, in pitting polarized speakers from Team Snobbish Wealthy White Urban Foodie against Team Tokenized Rural, POC, Blue Collar, Family Cook Woman who wants to be liberated from the snobbery of elite liberals, but not the malnutrition of herself and her family!

Reducing complex issues to a combat between stereotyped opposites can make for easily written, provocative news items: especially if the interviewees you get the soundbites from look good and speak emotively.

Unfortunately - in the green food snobs vs. normalized malnourishment of supermarket dinners debate - they also grossly misrepresent the most important realities of food security. 

Being that; it’s always the least elite hit hardest by food insecurity and malnourishment, it’s always the wealthy most able to eat what the hell they want, and none of this cultural sniping addresses the people who produce most of the world’s food while being denied good diets and food sovreignty themselves. 

Agricultural Patterns : Image of the Day