Streams

Underreported: The Lives of Migrant Farm Workers

Thursday, September 29, 2011

When we’re in the supermarket, trying to figure out what to cook for dinner, the issues of immigration and migrant laborers usually aren’t on our minds. Yet migrant workers pick much of the produce that ends up on our tables. On today’s Underreported segment, GQ correspondent Jeanne Marie Laskas describes the season she spent with the migrant workers who pick the fruits and vegetables we find in our supermarkets, and why our food system depends on them. Her article "Hecho en América" appears in the October issue of GQ.

Guests:

Jeanne Marie Laskas
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Comments [6]

Suzie from Manhattan

In 1993, at the age of 26, I was living in Washington County, Maine and was lucky enough to get on a blueberry raking crew, in the Wyman fields. I was told I could make a thousand dollars if I worked the whole season. I didn't last three days.
You rake in rows, I did one row to the four or five rows the Migrant workers did. I went home, soaked in the tub and could barely walk the next day. On my third day of work, at dawn, covered in bug spray and sunscreen, I could barely lift my rake. I think I raked one bucket the whole day and let the crew chief know I would not be back. He didn't care.
The following week, after my body had mostly recovered, I drove by the fields and the small homes (painted blue) for the Mirgants and found the workers ending their day, not in a hot bath but playing soccer. Not a relaxing game, a running hard, sweaty exciting game.
I will never forget my summer (three days) raking blueberries,

Oct. 10 2011 02:32 PM
Pope Jon from Ridge NY

Howard,

I think its time to pay adult wages if you want adults working on farms. As Mike said bellow, AG minimum wage is less then regular minimum wage and the work is usually far more physically demanding. If your industry relies on part time teenager workers, you are never going to get a reliable strong work force.

Sep. 29 2011 02:20 PM
Howard from New Jersey

Maybe it's time to stop treating todays teenagers like royalty and have them do two years community service, ( including picking crops) or two years in the military, maybe then they would appreciate this country. Everybody goes, no exceptions. More people would appreciate this country.

Sep. 29 2011 02:11 PM
Mike from Inwood

When I was a middle school student upstate, I picked fruit at a local farm for money. We were paid by the quart (strawberries) so that most kids would make less than the farm minimum wage. The farm minimum wage was less than the regular minimum wage. This is why Americans will not pick fruit. Period. When this woman says, "They're paid quite well" How can you NOT follow-up with, "How miuch are they paid?" Really lame interview.

Sep. 29 2011 02:01 PM
Pope Jon from Ridge NY

As an American worker and If I lived in this county and I needed a steady job to feed my family of four and I cant move from state to state every month, how is this 4 week temp job supposed to help me?

Sep. 29 2011 01:56 PM
Pope Jon from Ridge NY

Historically high school labor has never been "reliable" or "good". So how much is "good pay" that your guest talks about? Is it even close to a living wage?

Sep. 29 2011 01:52 PM

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