Monday, July 19, 2010

Farmworker Dies in CA Fields

Despite stringent labor laws, there are still many professions that remain dangerous to heart and health and farming happens to be one of them. From the less visible impacts of living rurally and the impact of long commuter hours, to the more direct and adverse affects of working in fields that have chemicals, to having to work under extreme weather conditions, our nation's slaughterhouses, factories and fields present significant barriers to having an equitable food system that cares for the environment and its people. Take this summers latest report that another farmworker died from heat in California.

How can such treatment be permissible in the United States? Since we're importing a large percentage of our food from overseas, how is that food produced where there are even less labor and environmental laws? These questions beg for a domestic food labeling program, but this will undoubtedly require that eaters pick up the extra costs of such a labeling program. Critics of the fair trade movement claim that little reciprocity is reported by many overseas that participate in fair trade campaigns. If this is true, what governing body should be accountable for monitoring and tracking? While the USDA seems a natural candidate, the administration hardly gets a chance to check imported food for pests, let alone track that imports come from fair wage sources. fair wages are assessed to farm workers and that eaters will have to pay the extra cost of such labeling.

For Rodolfo Ceballos Carrillo (54) in Kern County, California last week Friday, the high temperatures led to a collapse in the field - something that happens repeatedly during hot summer months all over the country. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones.


  1. why should a government body be accountable? we are the ones who should be holding the farmers accountable by buying local foods and reducing the amount of imported foods. our government isn't capable of creating such a program, this has been proven time and again by the current labeling programs that are in place (as well as other unsuccessful regulatory efforts by our gov). don't get me wrong, i fully support the need for change but just disagree about how we should go about it.

  2. It's such a conundrum! Everyone's to blame: the farmers, the industry for the low prices, eaters (the majority of the U.S. still doesn't even buy locally or have access to it), the toothless government agencies, the global market imports that drive prices low even though the environment and labor regulations in other countries don't meet our standards...

    Solution? Farmers start to be creative. Farm workers not only lobby for increased awareness, but also start pushing the local food agenda too! Eaters become more aware and start forcing the issue. Government protects our farmers from competition the global market for crops that can be grown domestically. Just to name a few.