We know how we get our food to our table. To get it cheaply we rely on exploited workers. The economics of the food industry needs analysing whilst it is under the spotlight of Covid 19. Note suggestions for us to consider https://sustainablefoodfilm.com
Firstly, in the UK, once volunteers were called for to help bring in produce from the fields, replacing the usual migrant workers due to Covid 19 restrictions, they were asked to live in the close quartered, unpleasant farm buildings where desperate migrant workers lived during their seasonal work. Most volunteers refused to take up the work once they saw the dangers of possibly picking up the virus whilst working in the fields and living in unsanitary conditions. So a special government policy was brought to bear to allow the migrants in, mostly from Bulgaria and Romania. The farmers were relieved to sell their produce which they had feared would have to be thrown away if no one picked it.
See https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1748895818762264 and read about the exploitation of workers as viewed by this research in March 2018.
And here we are asked to treat these workers with the respect they deserve. This article back in 2012.
There has been a campaign by ALEC to get workers back into employment before the safety of their workplaces has been solved to their satisfaction.
“Documents obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) show that a powerful corporate lobby front group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is playing a leading role in the right-wing movement to push for early reopening of the economy amidst the coronavirus pandemic that has cost the United States 61,680 lives to date.”
June 2020 US outbreaks among vegetable packing workers
COVID-19 Infections Rising Among Vegetable Packing Workers in California
“Meanwhile, coronavirus cases near tomato-growing Immokalee, Florida, are also on the rise. The spread of the coronavirus among Florida farm workers has significant implications for national food production, as many agricultural workers travel north through the summer following the harvest through Georgia, the Carolinas, and into the Northeast.”
July 2020, outbreak amongst vegetable workers at A S Green in Herefordshire, England
It employs about 200 seasonal pickers and packers from Eastern Europe to help with the crop.
“We confirm that we are working closely with, Public Health England and the Public Health team at Herefordshire Council to support a number of our workers that have tested positive for COVID-19. As a precautionary measure we have arranged for testing of additional key workers including management team members and visitors connected with A S Green and can confirm all results to date outside of our site have been returned with negative results. To date there are 73 positive cases on our site.”
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