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?


10 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Mamaduck February 24, 2011 at 12:56 am -

    Thank you for sharing this post. It is such a shame that the American public is typically quick to condemn the outrageous injustices that happen elsewhere in the world, yet so willing to turn a blind eye to the ugliness occuring in our own backyard… probably because the majority is too busy kneeling at the altar of the “root of all evil.” Your voice is appreciated.

  2. Mike Lieberman February 24, 2011 at 1:33 am -

    Thanks. It’s easy to point the finger. Much harder to accept responsibility and realize what’s going on. We live very comfortable lives at the expense of others.

  3. Naima February 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm -

    Thanks for this great post! We can also not support the system by demanding accountability – using our voices of protest. And, boycotting various corporations. This isn’t always the most efficient way of change, but it DOES make our voices heard, officially, and makes the corporations glaringly responsible for the injustices.

  4. Mike Lieberman February 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm -

    Boycotting and effecting their bottomlines is the only way to see change through. George Washington is a very powerful man.

  5. Eve Caffeine March 26, 2011 at 8:10 am -

    Thank you so much for your blog, for sharing your light & inspiring people. *ahem* me. I guess part of it is the spring thaw, something inside this human being is saying Hey, are you going to plant the seeds this year? this year will be my second year. Last year was my first and unfortunately I did not get to see my garden through to fruition, it was destroyed just when it was beginning to change from flower to little hard green fruits, and I had to make an exodus out of the state shortly after. This year though, I have already collected lots of seeds. I’m still collecting containters and even though I live full time in an RV, I am at a place where I have a patio slab that I can set my containers on for sun shine and wind and rain. I am finally feeling free and connected again and just reading this tonight has helped me so much. I really appreciate your writing. Thank you.

  6. Mike Lieberman March 26, 2011 at 9:15 pm -

    Eve. Thanks for the comment. Keep me updated on how things progress for you.

  7. submeme March 27, 2011 at 3:50 am -

    Thank you for recognizing and vocalizing how women are uniquely vulnerable to the ecological, economic and physical violence of our global colonial/capitalist system.

    I think I would add that, as important as starving the monster of money, is standing in solidarity with those suffering under its fist and using our privilege and voice to speak up where they cannot. Thank you for that.

    To respond to your question “how else we can join together to challenge the exploitive system?” – the simple act of giving space here to their experience is very powerful. The key is to keep the conversation going: inspiring dialogue and conversation by making space for those without the means to express their truth, while remaining open and reflexive to examining how it is we are all complicit in maintaining the system. We need to remain committed to change, looking to the most disenfranchised to teach us what to change and how to do it, and then beginning that change process by looking at ourselves.

    Cheers 🙂

    ps. thanks for all the awesome info and tips… started my fire escape garden this weekend as Spring finally came to Vancouver!

  8. Mike Lieberman March 28, 2011 at 3:25 am -

    Thanks for your comment and input. We all certainly need to accept responsibility for what goes on and realize the results of our everyday choices.

  9. Pariah September 9, 2011 at 12:19 am -

    Haven’t visited in awhile, but just wanted to say this is an awesome post, so great to see conversations like this.  Keep up the good work!  You rock!

  10. Mike Lieberman September 12, 2011 at 4:26 pm -

    Glad to see you back and that you are enjoying.

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