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Politics of the plate
March 20, 2009 1:34 PM   Subscribe

If you have eaten a tomato this winter, chances are very good that it was picked by a person who lives in virtual slavery.
posted by Ostara (55 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Between December and May, as much as 90 percent of the fresh domestic tomatoes we eat come from south Florida, and Immokalee is home to one of the area’s largest communities of farmworkers."

huh, that's odd - seems like all the tomatoes I buy are always from Vancouver BC.
posted by mwhybark at 1:38 PM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wonder what David Foster Wallace might have written for them about this.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:39 PM on March 20, 2009


The tomatoes I've been eating this winter are from Israel. I don't know how I should feel about that.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:40 PM on March 20, 2009


Grow your own. It's easy to do. For winter climates, a sun lamp should do the trick. Here in so-cal you can grow them all year if you pick the right variety.
posted by dibblda at 1:41 PM on March 20, 2009


My vegetarian social-justice-advocate friend asked us to drive her to Taco Bell. She explained that Taco Bell has policies to pay slightly higher wages to tomato growers so she wanted to reward them and also get a seven-layer burrito.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:44 PM on March 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


USA doesn't have a monopoly on this. Previously.
posted by adamvasco at 1:44 PM on March 20, 2009


She explained that Taco Bell has policies to pay slightly higher wages to tomato growers so she wanted to reward them and also get a seven-layer burrito.

It seems that while she's rewarding them, she's punishing herself.
posted by incessant at 1:54 PM on March 20, 2009 [9 favorites]


what a travesty and an outrage. Thanks for drawing attention to this; hopefully it will cause people to reconsider their purchases and really question where their money is going.

One could argue that a boycott would be unfair to producers not engaging in this conduct, however it sounds like this is common knowledge in the area so how could anyone be considered innocent?
posted by ryanfou at 2:05 PM on March 20, 2009


My girlfriend prefers to buy Iowa tomatoes, so by extension so do I. A lot of times these are hothouse tomatoes. I don't know what we do when neither of these are available. I think we go without, so my conscience is clear.

The rest of you are probably going to hell.

From what I glean from the article, you have one illegal alien exploiting other illegal aliens to pick produce cheaply. I'm guessing if this wasn't happening the prices of tomatoes from Florida would grow so high that it would no longer be economically feasible to transport them. Without these import tomatoes putting price pressure on the Iowan ones I eat the price of tomatoes would rise nationally, and less people would eat them, or eat them rarely, thus making them into a delicacy rather than someone I have to remember to ask to not have put on my sandwich. Win win.

This sucks for those pickers, but seems to me their stories would trickle home and do more to fight illegal immigration than anything the authorities can do.

Inhumane practices should be shut down, but I'm not going to feel bad about what I choose to eat. It's getting to where there isn't a safe or ethical food to eat unless you grew it yourself. I'm not going to live like that.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:06 PM on March 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is horrible. I had no idea.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:07 PM on March 20, 2009


cjorgensen,

brillaintly crafted flame. fine job, sir, fine job.
posted by gagglezoomer at 2:11 PM on March 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


I live in a northern clime, and all the tomatoes I buy are actually local, right accros the bridge. Superior WI has a large greenhouse/hydroponic tomato factory/farm. If Superior freaking WI can grown tomatoes in winter any N. American town can.
posted by edgeways at 2:21 PM on March 20, 2009


Inhumane practices should be shut down, but I'm not going to feel bad about what I choose to eat.

Nor shall I feel bad about what, or where, I choose to drive. Nor whom I choose to exploit.

Here in Galt's Gulch, guilt is an outdateed concept.
posted by eclectist at 2:26 PM on March 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


Oh cripes. Just last night, I noticed I was eating almost nothing but tomatoes recently. BLTs, tacos, pizza toppings (both sauce and actual tomatoes), etc.
posted by DU at 2:30 PM on March 20, 2009


It seems to me that if we were going to have slaves pick our tomatoes, they could at least taste like something. The tomatoes, that is.
posted by Nelson at 2:35 PM on March 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Aren't all fruits and vegetables grown this way? I know we (Canadians) do something similar, although maybe not quite so bad, with migrant workers in Niagara's vineyards.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:43 PM on March 20, 2009


Boycotting tomatoes improves the impecunious situation of the Immokalee how, exactly? All it does is decrease demand for tomatoes, which means the Immokalee will end up getting paid less.

The true solution to this problem is to legitimize and educate the work force so they're granted stronger protections by the government and have economic alternatives to slave labor.
posted by christonabike at 2:46 PM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


You don't think this is an accident, do you? The growers and suppliers have no interest in stemming illegal immigration because all they know is that based on their research, they'd have to spend $lots to pay people a fair wage to harvest them.

Lax enforcement of immigration law and the reality of market economics create these slaves, right here, in our nation. I can't change market economic, and I sure as hell haven't been able to change the lax enforcement.

When all immigration is properly accounted for, there are much smaller knowledge gaps, and it's much harder to pull shit like this off.

Mariano Lucas Domingo deserved better.
posted by chimaera at 2:50 PM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


What goes around comes around ....
posted by a non e mouse at 3:02 PM on March 20, 2009


Supermarket produce sections overflow with bins of perfect red-orange tomatoes even during the coldest months—never mind that they are all but tasteless

It seems to me that if we were going to have slaves pick our tomatoes, they could at least taste like something. The tomatoes, that is.

I would expect gourmet magazine to harp on the tastelessness of supermarket produce, but decrying it in an article about slavery is a surreal juxtaposition.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:03 PM on March 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


You don't think this is an accident, do you? The growers and suppliers have no interest in stemming illegal immigration because all they know is that based on their research, they'd have to spend $lots to pay people a fair wage to harvest them.

The problem is not just that growers don't want to incur additional costs, it's that they cannot afford to incur costs that their competitors are not incurring. You can't bite just one piece of the problem off and solve it. You have to tackle worker education, trade/tariff structures, pollution controls, sustainable farming, wages, etc... across not just tomatoes, but all kinds of foods that people would buy in lieu of tomatoes, and industries that create agricultural equipment and supplies.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:10 PM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The rest of you are probably going to hell.

Some of the rest of us, like your girlfriend, buy locally-grown hothouse tomatoes in the winter? And then grow our own in the summer?
posted by desuetude at 3:30 PM on March 20, 2009


You have to tackle worker education, trade/tariff structures, pollution controls, sustainable farming, wages, etc.

Or it might just be there simply isnt enough demand for tomatoes to support living wages for the amount of workers involved in their production.

The main problem is why South and Central American economies cannot grow internally. Can they really not generate enough enterprise and growth that their workers have to come illegally to America to work as tomato slaves? I have no idea why these economies do not grow, but feudal conditions like these will persist as long as the economies of these nations are in a feudal state.

Its easy to want to blame subhuman working conditions on The Man or whatever, but it might just be the physics of economy.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 3:38 PM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can they really not generate enough enterprise and growth that their workers have to come illegally to America to work as tomato slaves?

It's really hard when, say, agricorps from the US own all your land to grow cash crops and pay you EVEN less down there, because your government is even MORE in league with the money.
posted by yeloson at 3:45 PM on March 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh man, this made me almost throw up. I don't eat tomatoes in the winter because they're fricking nasty, but I'm not about to pat myself on the back about my inadvertent (and most likely inconsistent, since they come as garnishes all the time) support of human rights thereby.

I just finished reading Engels' Condition of the Working Class in England and it's truly depressing to be immediately reminded of how far we haven't come since 1844. Truck and cottage systems? Check, check. Exorbitant, excessive, and impossible fines? Check! Dehumanization of the workers as no more than uppity machines? One grower refused to enter a dialogue with CIW hunger strikers because, in his words, “a tractor doesn’t tell the farmer how to run the farm.” Check!

As to boycotting hurting the workers—that only seems likely if the boycott is merely a silent, individual action. The last page of the article links to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers website. It has more information about their efforts toward changing the situation, including letters to print out and take to Chipotle, the next major fast food chain they're trying to get on board with their one-measly-cent per pound increase in price for tomatoes—which apparently works out to something like a twenty dollar raise for the workers on a good picking day. It would be one thing if people just stopped eating tomatoes and demand fell without any way of seeing why it might have done so other than some natural decrease in tomato interest. But done through these means it's possible to make clear to the growers exactly why their market share has dropped, and how it can be regained.

You could also write to the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, who is refusing to get on board due to the farmers not being involved in the arrangements made by the Campaign for Fair Food, and tell them to pull their heads out of their asses. Here's the contact page.
posted by felix grundy at 4:05 PM on March 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


Yep, that NAFTA thing is really working out well for Mexico! I've had a friend defend free trade to me by saying it's immoral to support tariffs that ultimately punish poor 3rd world farmers. Yeesh!
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:11 PM on March 20, 2009


I always like posts like this, because people consistently forget about the real world while out running their mouths for social justice, health care, and a 1,000 other causes. Meanwhile, in a field in their own home countries...
posted by new and improved buzzman IV at 4:13 PM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Flagged as a fantastic post felix grundy. Less bitching, and more action is how to best leverage social media such as this site.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:21 PM on March 20, 2009


It's not just tomatoes, it's the entire modern food chain. This is just another example du jour. Here's (previously) another. This started back in Upton Sinclair's day and has really just been evolving for the past century.

Norabarnacl3: It's easy to want to blame subhuman working conditions on The Man or whatever, but it might just be the physics of economy.

Yes, it is just the "physics" of the economy, but the present economy didn't happen just naturally. With the advent of NAFTA, CAFTA and similar trade agreements (including state and local "economic development" incentives), a structure has been put in place that makes it extremely easy for financial capital to move at will wherever it wants whenever it wants. Can human capital ("labor") move to the same degree? No. Therein lies the physics problem. It's an unbalanced system.

So, it doesn't really matter whether you're talking tomatoes or turkeys or toothpaste. The underlying problem is the same: disproportionately large market power placed under the control of financial interests whose sole aim is to maximize financial gain over all else (community, health, environment, people, etc...).

One of two things has to happen to "rebalance" the system: Either 1) labor needs to be able to move just as freely and easily as capital across traditional boundaries (i.e., state, national, etc..); or, 2) capital movement and flows need to be restricted in a way that imposes limits on capital in order to more appropriately reflect the lack of free movement on labor. As #1 is highly unlikely to occur for practical reasons, option #2 is really the only choice.

How do we rebalance the system? I don't know. Go ask the the brightest guys in the room at Enron and AIG.
posted by webhund at 4:24 PM on March 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thanks PB—though I can't say I didn't choke down some snark before going with the possibly helpful answer.

This, already cited, makes me crazy: Supermarket produce sections overflow with bins of perfect red-orange tomatoes even during the coldest months—never mind that they are all but tasteless. As if it would justify inhuman working conditions if the damn tomatoes were delicious. Tasteless, indeed.
posted by felix grundy at 4:40 PM on March 20, 2009


Its easy to want to blame subhuman working conditions on The Man or whatever, but it might just be the physics of economy.

Physics is a not a good metaphor here.

For most people, physics implies a set of immutable, inescapable laws. Thus a "physics" economy is not something we can do anything about.

However the behaviour of the economy is in many ways highly malleable. Laws on labour conditions, the movement of people and capital, land ownership, etc, and the enforcement of those laws very much determine whether situations like this can occur or not.

It's funny to hear someone dismiss the notion of "the Man", and in the very same sentence appeal to an equally abstract, broken analogy. But common to both models, "the Man" or "physics", is the idea that action to change things is useless. I disagree
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:58 PM on March 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Some industries have had a fiscal incentive to self-regulate better conditions in order to increase the barriers to entry for competitors and stabilize the market. That incentive to self regulate breaks down when the regulations can't be applied across the whole industry. Human capital moving between systems is only a part of the issue. Environmental costs are not built into the system as much in the developing world.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:24 PM on March 20, 2009


Aren't all fruits and vegetables grown this way? I know we (Canadians) do something similar, although maybe not quite so bad, with migrant workers in Niagara's vineyards.

We do, yes. I used to live on a farm (spare house, we weren't the farmers) where the farmer hired migrant workers from Jamaica. Yeah, they were making less than comparable Canadian workers, but only barely--the farmer was a really good guy, gave excellent time off, etc.

He was, unfortunately, in the minority.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:47 PM on March 20, 2009


Regarding the efficacy/morality of boycotts please read about Cesar Chavez (lazy wikipedia link). Growing up in the 60s, this movement was so powerful and presented such a moral force that to this day I hesitate before reaching for table grapes and lettuce. Do NOT succumb to the arguments that claim moral actions, like individually or collectively boycotting something, will only hurt the people you are trying to help. Do not fall for the "neener neeners" who try to frame your moral actions as useless, trivial, trite or fashionista. It is immoral to support an industry that so blatantly exploits its workers. Further, there are solutions, such as patronizing merchants like those named above who have repudiated questionable practices, buying local and in season, and growing and/or preserving your own produce.

And no, you don't have to grow your own to preserve your own. Buy in season, and then preserve your own sauces, jams, spreads, etc, and just don't eat fresh produce out of season. You won't die from not having a fresh tomato on your sandwich in January.
posted by nax at 6:13 PM on March 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


webhund, "It's not just tomatoes, it's the entire modern food chain."

This was what I was trying to say when I say I'm not going to feel guilt for what I eat. That way lies madness. I stopped eating swine some 10 years ago after visiting a hog confinement lot. They were kept in some pretty disgusting conditions (and this was one of the farms that was considered a modern marvel of ethical treatment), and I got to see them castrated, pumped full of antibiotics and fed their own freshly severed testicles. Yep, I was done.

I quit eating bovine during the European mad cow scares after watching a video of bulldozers creating mountains of flaming cow carcasses, and listening to a newscaster interviewing a scientist who was speculating this might cause the the disease to spread. And I quit eating beef not because I think I'll catch mad cow, but I refused to contribute to such a wasteful industry.

Then there was recently an E. coli scare involving spinach or jalapeños or tomatoes or peanut paste or strawberries or fucking sprouts....

I live down the road from the Iowa Swift plant (60 miles) that was raided for illegal immigrants, and it cost our government millions to conduct this raid, there was a near economic collapse of the town, families torn apart, and questionable tactics were undertaken to get convictions of people who most likely didn't know their rights. Even the court interpreter stepped down because he didn't feel the "criminals" in this case were being provided with accurate information. But hey, there was a story that came out today that wages are up at the plant, so pretty sure it was worth it!

I could go on. I could tell the story of my cousin that's been in a wheelchair, his ability to learn or speak forever gone, and on a feeding tube since he was 2 all from eating some sort of food tainted with E. coli, but I'll spare the details.

Like new and improved buzzman IV says, "[...] people consistently forget about the real world while out running their mouths for social justice, health care, and a 1,000 other causes."

I think people are too disconnected from their food supplies. Hell, I quit eating pig after getting a tour of a farm, imagine if you had to raise, kill, and butcher that thing before you got to have your beloved bacon. I am guessing there would be a few more vegetarians in the world.

And for the record, I am not being judgmental on what people eat. It should be pretty clear that I don't care. My point is that I have quit worrying about what food could kill me or what food is exploiting someone.

Ah, crap, I forgot about endangering species, environmental impact, and the two thousand other reasons to not eat, but we here in Galt's Gulch kinda need to do it to live.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:05 PM on March 20, 2009


Worrying yourself to death about food sources is obviously a waste of time, but the occasional inquiry couldn't hurt.

And for many many thousands of years people lived without, say, strawberries, in March.

Would it hurt so much to eat things in season? It's actually incredibly fun to deny yourself the pleasure of year-round-everything and then just eat it when it is tasty, local, and in season.
posted by kozad at 7:51 PM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Most of these tomatoes probably end up at McDonalds or in processed foods. I imagine supermarket tomatoes make up a small fraction of total sales.

The politics of this get sort of complex.
posted by wemayfreeze at 8:52 PM on March 20, 2009


Article does not live up to its headline. Just sayin'.
posted by unSane at 8:56 PM on March 20, 2009


Yep, that NAFTA thing is really working out well for Mexico! I've had a friend defend free trade to me by saying it's immoral to support tariffs that ultimately punish poor 3rd world farmers. Yeesh!

And not having free trade, and thus sending money to those foreign farmers, helps them how? Protectionist tariffs will simply give more money to the same American companies, some of whom are plenty happy exploiting people here in the country, and less money to foreign farmers, some of whom are not exploited (and some are).
posted by wildcrdj at 9:23 PM on March 20, 2009


webhund: "One of two things has to happen to "rebalance" the system: Either 1) labor needs to be able to move just as freely and easily as capital across traditional boundaries (i.e., state, national, etc..); or, 2) capital movement and flows need to be restricted in a way that imposes limits on capital in order to more appropriately reflect the lack of free movement on labor. As #1 is highly unlikely to occur for practical reasons, option #2 is really the only choice."

There is an option #3, given your assessment of us probably always avoiding #1: restrict the importation and flow of physical goods and commodities.

Although there are admittedly some industries that are outsourceable and don't result in physical goods to bring to market (computer programming, dictation/transcription, some creative jobs), no matter how "new" the economy gets, it still needs a lot of physical stuff, and restricting the movement of physical stuff is a very powerful tool. It's also within the traditional scope of government, and something government bureaucracies are usually not overwhelmingly bad at. (As I suspect they would be at trying to stifle capital flows in the modern international financial system without killing it.) You could accomplish a lot without worrying too much about where the money was going at any particular moment, by just concentrating on more concrete matters.

E.g., if we wanted to improve the lot of tomato farmers/pickers, we would need to start by fixing the problems here in the U.S. (which would probably only take strict enforcement of existing laws), and then to prevent companies from turning to outside sources we could bar the importation of tomatoes from places where worker abuse was still common. You wouldn't have to restrict capital flows or prevent investment — if companies wanted to own tomato fields in those countries, or invest in abusive growers, given that they can't bring the tomatoes grown there to market here, fine. Rather than trying to control capital, which is slippery and ephemeral, we go after the output directly. If done right, the capital flows can even become a positive force for change: U.S. corporations would have a vested interest in bringing foreign suppliers up to snuff, even if local governments couldn't care less.

Doing this doesn't require a ton of new, intrusive government apparatus in order to peer into every international financial transaction, it just requires rigorous domestic law enforcement and border control, coupled with a willingness to use trade policy to prevent the fruits (in some cases literally) of oppression from entering the United States and being sold here.

About the only thing it really requires is political will, and that's where I'm skeptical anything will happen — in order to stop sweatshop-manufactured clothing or slave-harvested fruit at the border, Americans have to be willing to give up the artificially low prices that are a direct result of oppression. I don't think the average consumer is willing to do that. But perhaps I'm wrong. If I am, the pieces are all in place, right now, to make a huge difference; they want only for someone to use them that way.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:27 PM on March 20, 2009


Protectionist tariffs will simply give more money to the same American companies, ...

I'd be interested in seeing how that necessarily follows, if the tariffs are being collected by the government in a transparent fashion. Also, if domestic corporations are forced to exploit people within this country, isn't there at least a better chance for organized labour to establish minimum wage and working conditions?
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:45 PM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


God damn America
posted by hamida2242 at 1:49 AM on March 21, 2009


Here in Galt's Gulch, guilt is an outdateed concept.

I'm going to go ahead and side with those who see a certain amount of futility in the whole "investigative journalism + coordinated consumer action = justice department" scheme of social control. If you want to make slavery illegal, make it illegal. If you want the cops to enforce the law, make them enforce the law. It's just hard for me to believe that the blunt instrument of trying to start a movement or boycott every time someone somewhere is doing something awful to poor people (which is probably 100x as often as we know about) is really a sustainable or effective way to make life livable for everyone without most cases falling through the cracks.

It's better to pay professionals to do these things full time, and give them certain legal powers to help them. In other words, detectives, cops, and judges. Why are we so furious at the corporations and not at the authorities who let these things happen -- whose jobs are to not let these things happen? Sure, I'm angry at "the man" for this too, but I'm particularly furious that the government has left these people out in the cold. Don't tell me the problem is just that people won't testify. There are other kinds of evidence. There are other kinds of investigations. I bet if the cops' jobs were on the line, a whole lot more would be done.

As to the economics, yes, I can see how getting something is better than nothing, but this is America, for God's sake. People will pay for tomatoes. You really think most of the cost of the tomato is labor and transportation? Or that people only buy tomatoes because of how cheap they are? I don't know. Maybe. But somehow I suspect that even if the price of labor goes up, the number of jobs isn't going to go down by a matching amount. Call me a cynic.
posted by Xezlec at 8:19 AM on March 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are you the same Xezlec that left this comment? And this one? Disorienting.

Look, I only dabble in economic theory, so I can't offer you a whole argument on the connections between the spirit of the law and the economic forces that it supports or works against, and the role of public opinion in what gets done. But I can offer you what I've gotten from having read the article: law enforcement IS working on the problem, and the immediate problem is with the growers and their crew bosses, who deny that there is a problem at all, chalking it up to a few bad apples. Go look at the website for the grower's association that I linked above: it's chockablock with their claims to be supporting living wage policies, even as they're squashing the efforts of the CIW to get tomato prices increased by one fucking cent per pound. And testimony doesn't seem to be the problem—Mariano Lucas Domingo testified and was given a temporary visa. And law enforcement is just chipping at the problem, too, or so the CIW argues: Even though the CIW has been responsible for bringing police attention to a half dozen slavery prosecutions, Benitez feels that slavery will persist until overall conditions for field workers improve.

I'm just picking at points here without any overarching structure, so let me get to the real point. Sure, grassroots action is not going to change the system just by adding a few cents to all the prices that are suppressed through worker exploitation. And sure it's probably difficult to get a movement going, but that isn't at issue here, because there's already a movement going, one that has been going since 1993, and has succeeded in raising wages and attention, and in getting Taco Bell, Burger King, McDonalds, KFC, and Pizza Hut to sign on to their raise in prices and to commit to only buying tomatoes from growers who assure that their workers are treated fairly. I don't understand your quietism, or your point. "If you want to make slavery illegal, make it illegal." I do want to make it illegal! What do I do? What have I been doing wrong? Do I just need to clap my hands and think real hard about the government?

I don't really mean to single you out, you were just the last commenter in a series of arguments that seem to be making the assumption that because the means at hand don't lead straight to perfection, they're not worth bothering with.

So since I'm not singling you out, let me shift interlocutors: And for the record, I am not being judgmental on what people eat. It should be pretty clear that I don't care. My point is that I have quit worrying about what food could kill me or what food is exploiting someone. Well, cjorgenson, here's my point: Knowing the difficulties of being a just human being in the world, and the impossibility of always acting correctly in the mind-blowingly complicated system which we've somehow manufactured or inherited and perpetuate everyday without knowing what we do—well, that's not incompatible with still trying, bit by bit, to do right. You make quitting worrying sound like it's some great liberation—but to me it sounds like total acquiescence masquerading as a radical stance.
posted by felix grundy at 11:10 AM on March 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


aww, crap, nothing ruins a good screed like a bad link.
posted by felix grundy at 11:12 AM on March 21, 2009


So, I am still kind of unclear on this - they caught one of the bad guys, and put him jail for twelve years. Is it ok to eat winter tomatoes or not?
posted by Xoebe at 2:22 PM on March 21, 2009


Yet another reason for eating seasonally and locally.

The only tomatoes I eat in the winter these days are tomatoes which I purchased at the local farmer's market (which were, in turn, grown at a family farm in New Jersey) and which I canned myself over the course of one summer afternoon.

No, they're not available to slice and put on my sandwiches that way, but you know what, somehow I've lived.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:48 PM on March 21, 2009


100 mile diet challenge is on here in Mission, BC. Fortunately within 100 miles of me are tons and tons of greenhouses not staffed by virtual slaves and actually quite tasty. All of the tomatoes I've had for the last while have been from Delta's hothouses.
posted by barc0001 at 2:45 AM on March 22, 2009


So, I am still kind of unclear on this - they caught one of the bad guys, and put him jail for twelve years. Is it ok to eat winter tomatoes or not?

Not. Because of worker exploitation. Because of harm to the planet. Because it is time that Western Civilization puts aside childish things and owns up to the idea that we cannot have everything we want the second we want it regardless of the consequences to individuals, society and the planet.

Live a righteous life. Question your actions and those of the people in power. Maybe the answer to your question will be a good one. But if you don't ask, you'll never know.
posted by nax at 5:20 AM on March 22, 2009


About the only thing it really requires is political will, and that's where I'm skeptical anything will happen — in order to stop sweatshop-manufactured clothing or slave-harvested fruit at the border, Americans have to be willing to give up the artificially low prices that are a direct result of oppression. I don't think the average consumer is willing to do that.

Last time I bought skate shoes, I really wanted to buy American rather than Vans made by little kids in Malaysia. I looked online, asked people who actually work with Justice Clothing-- nothing. The only American-made shoes I could find were either old-man shoes or some rather cheapo-looking Chucks knockoffs.
It was rather disappointing, really, because if someone made US-made skate shoes I would totally go out of my way to buy them. Besides, people who skateboard tend to care more about that sort of thing.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:51 AM on March 22, 2009


While the issue at hand is different, your post reminded me of a video I watched in Human Ecology class. I was able to find it here.
posted by chiraena at 9:56 AM on March 22, 2009


Are you the same Xezlec that left this comment? And this one? Disorienting.

Aw, come on. What is the difference? I'm saying -- all three times -- that there should be a legally mandated and enforced minimum wage, rather than relying on consumer actions and capitalism to make things OK. I'm saying government reliable, economics unreliable, Do you really see some inconsistency there? Really? For once, can't someone agree with something I say other than some of my random snarkiness?

I am 99% certain that any and every product I buy and any action I take and any butterfly I accidentally squash can have some supportive effect on one form or another of slavery, and also can result in some good, positive things happening as well. OK, I concede that I am a pompous ass who doesn't know shit, never knew shit, and never will know shit. I don't deserve to be here and I should never have started following this crazy forum where everything is really way over my head anyway, but I do know that there is no action on the gods' green fucking Earth that I haven't been told both contributes to the end of the world and also is the only way to save it. It's all insane, no one has any idea what anything does to anyone, and that's been the case since the dawn of time, it's just that now people are finally starting to realize it and I wish I could have just died from syphilus in medieval Europe with some stupid religious incantation on my lips rather than being stuck here trying to argue things I don't understand with other people who don't understand them any goddamn better and getting called out every time I say thing one.

Fucking fuck, I give up. I shouldn't talk about things. Over and OUT.
posted by Xezlec at 11:53 AM on March 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Eating a tomato is its own punishment.
posted by Eideteker at 1:44 PM on March 22, 2009


If Superior freaking WI can grown tomatoes in winter any N. American town can.

AFAIK, it's actually cheaper to grow tomatos where you need to heat the greenhouses, than to grow them where you need to air-condition (cool) them. Big efficiency difference, and a big cost item. Florida tried (succeeded?) in getting trade sanctions against Canadian growers. Argues that the production cost difference should mean they get protection against competition.

I can't figure how that's actually supposed to work in the public's favour. Surely there's something else Florida can grow. Hemp, I'm sure it loves it there.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:21 PM on March 22, 2009


aww, crap. Xezlec, I'm just going to assume that you're still reading this, since that's what I would do if I'd disabled my account. I stand by what I said about the difficulties of the world not precluding action; in fact I stand by much of what I said in that comment. But I'm sorry that I took that unexplained swipe at your earlier comments—I realized as soon as I'd stepped away from the computer that it was both unclear and a little too personal.

Here's an explanation: I meant, precisely, disorienting and not inconsistent, though perhaps I'd land on the latter if you fleshed out your comments. What I saw in the earlier thread was an acknowledgement of the intricate way that economics and politics and civil life are bound up together, along with an acknowledgement of the unbalancing power of money; what I saw in this thread was you treating them as separable—as if mere legal change, achieved through lawmakers having the right ideas about the world, would be able to effect real change despite real, hidden, and pervasive (read: well-funded) forces to the contrary. I should have said this clearly then and given you a real statement to respond to. I was het up about how this thread was going and took it out on you more than I meant to, and I apologize. I hope this isn't really the end of your Metafilter career.
posted by felix grundy at 7:31 PM on March 22, 2009


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