While nation obsesses over “eating healthy,” little thought spared for farmworkers’ hardships

LatinaLista — Eating healthy is all the rage these days in light of the exploding rates of obesity occurring across the nation. As anyone knows, eating healthy doesn’t just mean throwing less salt on our mashed potatoes or ripping open one less packet of sugar or even choosing foods whose labels tout them as non-fat.

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Eating healthy has more to do with eating foods that are in their purest forms — straight from the vine, tree or ground. While the vast majority of Americans don’t have their own gardens to which they can go pick these fruits and vegetables, as a nation, we do have our farmworkers who do the picking for us.

Yet, as much as the new national trend to eat healthy has instilled in everyone a basic knowledge of which foods are good for our bodies, the sad reality is that little thought or attention are paid to the people who actually do the work to help this nation “eat healthy.”

If more thought was given to who are these farmworkers then it might be more widely known that our nation’s farmworkers face unhealthy hardships in keeping this country healthy.

Farm work is the third most dangerous job in the U.S., yet the people who plant and harvest our fruits and vegetables lack many of the basic worker protections that most of Americans take for granted. Things like overtime, unemployment insurance, even protection when joining a union are not guaranteed under federal law.

Also, many female farmworkers are subjected to inexcusable sexual harassment on the job and men, women and teenagers are at the mercy of their bosses for such basic things as water and bathroom breaks. As a result, needless deaths of farmworkers occur on a yearly basis.

From March 28 to April 3 is National Farmworker Awareness Week. During this time, the nation is being asked to remember how our food arrives in our supermarkets every day and to take time to stand up for some of the most vulnerable workers in the country.

We are connected to farmworkers everyday because we all consume food- much of it planted and harvested by farmworkers, yet farmworkers remain largely invisible and continue to live and work in unacceptable conditions.

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