Women Exploitation: How Your Dinner is Supporting It & What You Can Do

Posted on Feb 23 2011 - 2:30am by Mike Lieberman

There are plenty of safety problems in the food industry and your dinner is linked to them. These safety problems are why you should grow your own food and organic gardening makes sense to me, but right now I want to discuss problems beyond the food.

Let’s talk about how the workers are treated, but more specifically the female workers. There was an article on Alternet.org titled “Why Women Who Pick and Process Your Food Face Daily Threats of Rape, Harassment and Wage Theft.”

That’s a pretty heavy title. Here’s an excerpt from the first paragraph:

The report, “Injustice on Our Plates: Immigrant Women in the U.S. Food Industry,” compiles the experiences of 150 immigrant women who came from Mexico or other Latin American countries to work in the food industry, both in fields and in factories, across the United States. The picture it paints is grim. Women, who make up nearly a quarter of U.S. farmworkers, face the same indignities that immigrant men face — and then some.

It makes it difficult to sit down and enjoy your meal today, doesn’t it? To know that anyone, especially a woman, is being treated this way so that we can enjoy our food. Can you really enjoy your food knowing this?

As you read what goes on in the post, it hits you like a ton of bricks. There is no way that I could consciously support these practices and companies that employ them.

This is why I like to vote with my dollar, since George Washington is the most powerful man in this country.

Even though it’s a depressing post, there are things that you as an individual can do to stand up against the way these women and workers are treated.

Totally removing yourself from the industrialized food world might not be possible right now, but here are somethings that you can do:

  • Be self-sufficient. This is a long term goal of mine, but one that many might not be able to do right now.
  • Start your own garden. You can start to grow some of your own food. Space shouldn’t be an issue or excuse because I’ve already shown you what can be done on a fire escape and balcony.
  • Support local growers. Shop at your local farmers markets or join your local CSA.
  • Buy organic produce. At the very minimum, you can buy organic produce. If these workers are going to be working the fields under these horrible conditions, at least let them be fields that are free from chemicals.

The next time you sit down to eat your meal, think about where you food came from and how it got to your plate.

How else can we join together to not support this exploitative food system?