Thursday, 20 December 2007

Slave Labour That Shames America

Here's one reason to eat local food; unless you live in Florida that is:

Slave labour that shames America

And of course, I just posted a recipe calling for lemons - and ate a bunch of it, too. Gag. I try to console myself with the thought that they were organic lemons. But the reality is, that with the current state of organic regulation in the U.S., that doesn't necessarily have much impact on how the people who picked them are paid and treated. Most employers don't treat their agricultural workers quite as badly as the men in this story, but the trouble is, decent people who want to treat their employees decently have to compete with others who are using slave labour. And of course, they can't. They are either out of business, or have to find some other angle (such as organic) to justify a higher price.

I'd be boycotting Burger King, but oddly enough, I've never been in one in my life. Well, and that ain't gonna change any time soon.

Seriously; Canada, and Ontario, do not have stellar records when it comes to agricultural labour. But our problems are nowhere near this level, and by buying from local producers - preferably small local producers whom we can visit - and by making our desire for food produced under decent conditions clear to our elected leaders and our food suppliers, we can not only avoid such horror stories but also improve the situation.

Yes, we will pay more money for our food. But we will quite literally be saving lives, or perhaps more accurately, not killing other people with our cheap diet. I think that's worth a little money myself.

Edited to add: Bugger, that article seems to have disappeared. However, here's a link to a blog post by Nezua Limón Xolografik-Jonez, which quoted it extensively: Culture Kitchen.

Edited again: Okay, article is now back.


Peter M said...

Ferdzy, thanks for the post, rant and article.

Canada and the US' migrant farmer situation is deplorable but what makes it even worse is that that Mexican diplomats tell their citizens to put up & shut up.

We can all do our best to shop right and hope that everyone will have decent work conditions and a quality life to provide to a family.

Merry Christmas!

Bellini Valli said...

Thanks for bringing this to our attention Ferdzy. I try and shop locally as much as possible anyway to boost our own economy, but we do not grow fruit in the winter in Canada. I must say though that I usually just have apples and pears in the winter. It is appalling how human beings can treat other this way!