National Farmworker Awareness Week highlights a dirty labor plight
This week it’s time to pay some respect to the folks who actually do most of that farming work.
The vast majority of our stateside fruits and vegetables are handpicked by more than 3 million migrant and seasonal farmworkers. Without those farmworkers, we’d be very hungry. But as a whole those workers are treated badly: They’re underpaid, underinsured, and undereducated. About half of them are undocumented, and only about a third are U.S. citizens. These workers bear the brunt of our food system with their bodies, but only California requires that they get water and bathroom breaks. On average, one farmworker dies on the job every day in the U.S., and laborers can be as young as 12 — legally.