by Greer Gregory
It’s easy to get Taco Bell every day at the Union without realizing the shocking cost of your taco. As middle class, consumer Americans living in an economically booming, resource-wealthy city, we support multi-million dollar corporations without a second thought. We are not brought up to think about where each ingredient in that taco came from or the exploitation that occurs behind the scenes of the fast food industry—all in the name of keeping prices so low. One example of a form of exploitation is in the major tomato fields of Florida, where modern-day slavery still exists.
Most people are unaware of the widespread exploitation that migrant workers in Florida are subjected to in the nation’s chief tomato-producing areas. On the small-scale, farmers are being held against their will and in the most extreme cases even beaten to make them pick tomatoes. Because of their extreme poverty and lack of mobility they have to stay. In addition, due to the diminishing numbers of farm workers, they are being paid dramatically less than their labor is worth.
Similar to textile workers at the turn of the century, tomato farmers are paid by the piece. For every 32-lb bucket of tomatoes they pick, farmers receive 50 cents. At that rate, a worker would have to pick more than 2.25 tons of tomatoes to earn minimum wage in a regular 10-hour workday. This is almost double the amount a worker 30 years ago had to pick to receive minimum wage.
So, why is this happening? Well, on the other end of skyrocketing corporate profits, is the compromised livelihood of the laborers who offer the resources these companies could not succeed without. Within the last 20 years, Continue reading