Friday, January 8, 2010

A Serious Wake-up Call: Child Farm Workers in the U.S.

After reading Patrice's blog post (below) on U.S. agricultural systems and making healthy, socially conscious decisions about food, I thought I'd add to the discussion with this post.

Several weeks ago I was astonished and horrified to learn that there are 400,000 - 500,000 child farm laborers, age 5 - 16, working in U.S. fields, picking the very food we eat. Nearly 2/3 of these children drop out of school permanently. These children lack federal labor protections that all other children in the U.S. enjoy and often fear that they, or their families will be deported.

I was previously aware and very concerned about the terrible working and living conditions migrant farm workers in the U.S. endure, but had no idea that children, too, were often working alongside their parents. This is a major wake up call that child labor (along with sweatshop labor, sex slavery, and more), happens at home, not just in "third-world" countries.

Shine Global has investigated this issue and produced a film called "The Harvest". The film features stories from actual child farm workers. I haven't been able to see it yet, but have been told by another FMF colleague that it is very powerful and gives you a real awakening. I encourage you to check out the site and look for screenings near you.

So, indeed, there are many, many reasons to buy local, know where your food comes from and appreciate each and every bite!


PatRice said...

Thanks for adding this piece. This issue is truly unacceptable. Not only are women, men and children being exploited and are at risk of being deported, but the companies that advertise in other countries for cheap labor are not held accountable. These executives and their marketing departments should all be prosecuted for violating human rights and encouraging illegal immigration.

It really bothers me when conservatives maliciously go after those who are the most vulnerable in our society. The fact that it's kept in secrecy--children laborers are treated inhumanely so that we may overconsume on contaminated food, while they become criminalized and go hungry for 2 dollars and hour?

That's a pretty sad picture. I guess it's a dog-eat-dog world, and guess who's really sitting back getting full? It's just insane!

Cassandra said...

I have to wonder if this is a product of the mass amounts of illegal immigration that has poured into the country. I mean if we can't document these people than how can we ever be able to control situations like these? It feels like people want to boil immigration down to the presence of south americans who work cheaply. However, issues like these come up, and they don't seem to get a voice. Look I am anti immigration, exactly because of issues like this.

PatRice said...

I'd like to clarify that I'm not against immigration. I'm only against any entity that promotes illegal immigration because it poses great threats and increased vulnerabilities toward both the US and those who emigrate. Anyone who would like to permanently reside in our country should be able to do so with some assistance, but lawfully. I think that's a significant difference.