[Marxism] In the Valley of Fear | by Michael Greenberg | The New York Review of Books
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Dec 8 06:39:46 MST 2018
In late June, I visited a tomato field in Fresno County near the town of
Mendota. The fields are owned by Gargiulo, one of the biggest tomato
growers in the country. Dozens of beat-up cars were parked at the edge
of the various sections that were ready for harvest. Clusters of Mixteco
workers relied on the one fluent Spanish speaker among them to
communicate with the crew foreman and the union representative from the
UFW who had smuggled me onto the property. During peak season these
fields employ four hundred pickers; about 250 were working that day,
almost half of them women, some of them visibly pregnant.
Because of the heat, the workday lasted from 5 to 10 AM, when
temperatures rose to 113 degrees. The sun beat down, but everyone was
covered from head to foot in several layers of clothes: cracked baseball
caps anchored in place by hoodies and homemade scarves, sweatshirts over
sweatshirts, two pairs of pants, heavy socks and boots; only eyes and
cheeks and fingers were exposed. This was to protect against pesticides.
Cancer rates among pickers throughout the Valley are high. The soil is
so hardened by chemicals that it comes up in the hand in dry, pale
stone-like clumps. In the heat the chemicals rise potently from the
earth; within an hour I tasted them burning in my mouth.
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