Immigrant farm workers’ challenge: Take our jobs

I found this article from the AP on Yahoo.com news today.   As a small “farmer” my work is very minimal and I do not have to hire outside help but on days like the last five when I am out weeding, watering, harvesting, feeding animals, collecting eggs and so on in 100 degree PLUS heat I get a small taste of what these migrant/immigrant farm workers are going through EVERY day.  And the truth of the matter is that many Americans think they are better than this, that they deserve better jobs.  I don’t think most of us have a clue as to how important the farming industry is in this country.  I am not a proponent of allowing illegal immigrants in to this country but the truth of the matter is that most of the illegal immigrants are here doing these farming jobs because they are the only ones willing to do it.   I know people who have been laid off for months who wont even apply at the local McDonald’s because they feel it is beneath them yet they are likely the same ones complaining when they see “Mexicans” that they automatically assume are illegal doing a job that they themselves refuse to do.  I don’t know what the answer to the problem is but I do know that our country could be doing more.  The United States of America is supposed to be the “land of the free” and it wasn’t all that long ago that ALL OF US were immigrants.  Many Americans complain because they believe these immigrants are “stealing” our jobs but there are a HOST of jobs out there that most Americans a not willing to take.  So the question remains, would you take the challenge?  Would you be willing to do these jobs?  Think about that!

Immigrant farm workers’ challenge: Take our jobs

Stephen Colbert AP – FILE – In this April 9, 2008 file photo, Stephen Colbert is photographed at his office in New York. …

 

SAN FRANCISCO – In a tongue-in-cheek call for immigration reform, farm workers are teaming up with comedian Stephen Colbert to challenge unemployed Americans: Come on, take our jobs.

Farm workers are tired of being blamed by politicians and anti-immigrant activists for taking work that should go to Americans and dragging down the economy, said Arturo Rodriguez, the president of the United Farm Workers of America.

So the group is encouraging the unemployed — and any Washington pundits or anti-immigrant activists who want to join them — to apply for the some of thousands of agricultural jobs being posted with state agencies as harvest season begins.

All applicants need to do is fill out an online form under the banner “I want to be a farm worker” at http://www.takeourjobs.org, and experienced field hands will train them and connect them to farms.

According to the Labor Department, three out of four farm workers were born abroad, and more than half are illegal immigrants.

Proponents of tougher immigration laws have argued that farmers have become used to cheap labor and don’t want to raise wages enough to draw in other workers.

Those who have done the job have some words of advice for applicants: First, dress appropriately.

During summer, when the harvest of fruits and vegetables is in full swing in California’s Central Valley, temperatures hover in the triple digits. Heat exhaustion is one of the reasons farm labor consistently makes the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ top ten list of the nation’s most dangerous jobs.

Second, expect long days. Growers have a small window to pick fruit before it is overripe.

And don’t count on a big paycheck. Farm workers are excluded from federal overtime provisions, and small farms don’t even have to pay the minimum wage. Fifteen states don’t require farm labor to be covered by workers compensation laws.

Any takers?

“The reality is farmworkers who are here today aren’t taking any American jobs away. They work in often unbearable situations,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t think there will be many takers, but the offer is being made. Let’s see what happens.”

To highlight how unlikely the prospect of Americans lining up to pick strawberries or grapes, Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report” plans to feature the “Take Our Jobs” campaign on July 8.

The campaign is being played for jokes, but the need to secure the right to work for immigrants who are here is serious business, said Michael Rubio, supervisor in Kern County, one of the biggest ag producing counties in the nation.

“Our county, our economy, rely heavily on the work of immigrant and unauthorized workers,” he said. “I would encourage all our national leaders to come visit Kern County and to spend one day, or even half a day, in the shoes of these farm workers.”

Hopefully, the message will go down easier with some laughs, said Manuel Cunha, president of the California grower association Nisei Farmers League, who was not a part of the campaign.

“If you don’t add some humor to this, it’s enough to get you drinking, and I don’t mean Pepsi,” Cunha said, dismissing the idea that Americans would take up the farm workers’ offer.

California’s agriculture industry launched a similar campaign in 1998, hoping to recruit welfare recipients and unemployed workers to work on farms, he said. Three people showed up.

“Give us a legal, qualified work force. Right now, farmers don’t know from day to day if they’re going to get hammered by ICE,” he said, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “What happens to my labor pool?”

His organization supports AgJobs, a bill currently in the Senate which would allow those who have worked in U.S. agriculture for at least 150 days in the previous two years to get legal status.

The bill has been proposed in various forms since the late 1990s, with backing from the United Farm Workers of America and other farming groups, but has never passed.

Book Review – Chew on This by Eric Schlosser & Charles Wilson

The book Chew on This is brought to us by the authors of the well know book Fast Food NationChew on Thisis geared towards young adult readers and is intended to show kids the “truth” behind the fast food industry and the effects of fast-food and other poor eating choices on health and nutrition.  The book is said to be appropriate and useful for “health classes and nutrition units, it will also be an eye-opener for general readers who regularly indulge at the Golden Arches,” according to the School Library Journal.  The book is published by HoughtonMifflin a popular publisher of grade school textbooks.

I found the book to be very interesting and informative.  It was a quick read and I finished it in about three days of casual reading.  As with most propaganda (and YES this is propaganda…just look at the cover of the book!) the issue is skewed to meet the opinions of the authors.  The opinions they want you to buy into.  Although I largely agree with what the authors are saying and/or implying throughout this book I do think it is paramount to understand that they are biased.  The authors are presenting a single side of a story.

A few years ago I had to take a statistics class when I was working on my masters degree.  It didn’t take long to realize that statistics could easily be manipulated and presented in such a way to make them appear to support a lot of things.   Sometimes its not so much about the numbers as it is about the choice of words that are placed before and after the numbers.  I believe it was Bill Cosby, in an episode of the Cosby Show, who told Vanessa’s boyfriend he didn’t like him.  When the boyfriend questioned him about it, Bill Cosby replied, “You see, it’s in the presentation.  That’s the way she brought you here…on a garbage can lid.”  I think the same can be said for statistics.  I honestly believe that you could take all of the facts and statistics presented in this book and use them to place a positive spin on the other side of the story!  But isn’t that what propaganda is about?

All that aside, I DO think that Chew on This is a really good book.  I would love to share this book with my students at school and if I had children of my own, I would share it with them.  There are a lot of problems with fast-food, obese and over-weight adult and children and problems with the meat packing industry in this country.  I think the book lays out a lot of fine points that should make you seriously consider where your food comes from.

One of my favorite parts of the whole book is when they talk about Alice Waters the chef of Chez Panisse and the founder/creator of the Edible Schoolyard Program.  Alice Waters is one of my heroes and the kids who are able to take part in this program are really blessed!  If you haven’t heard of Alice Waters or the Edible Schoolyard you need to check out the website and be sure to read the blog and see what the kids are up to!

I would highly suggest that you read Chew on This.  As always, you can purchase this or any of the other books I discuss at Amazon.

One Small Change

My friend Fawn, over at Instead of the Dishes has been participating in the One Small Change Challange since January.  I recently read over her posts about her changes and visited the One Small Change website and decided that this was something I would like to do too.  The whole concept behind making One Small Change is to add a new environmentally friendly habit to your lifestyle every month.  The goal is to make some small change that will help to reduce your carbon footprint.

I have made a few changes here and there over the last few years but never really anything too concrete.  Until now.  Starting with the remainder of June I will be committing to one small change every month.  I will post my goal at the beginning of the month and let you know how I did at the end of the month.  I would love for you to join me.  If you decide to make a change I encourage you to blog about it and encourage your friends to make  a change as well.  Every little bit can help.

One Small Change – June

I realize that I use A LOT of paper towels.  We use paper towels as napkins at every meal.  We use paper towels for snacks, to wash the windows, when we armoral the car, and when we have spills and messes in the kitchen.  I use them when I cook to keep my hands clean and dry.  I use a lot of paper towels.  My goal for the remainder of June is to decrease the amount of paper towels that I use.  We will still use them at meals but I have placed reusable towels in my kitchen that I can use while cooking.  My goal is to not use a single paper towel during the preperation of a meal for the rest of June.  My goal will be to eventually eliminate paper towels from every activity except for meals.  I just like having paper towels and meals and I’m not yet willing to give those up.  Remember this is about making SMALL changes.

I have about 10 days to work on this.  I will report back soon!

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

10 whole Lemons (or 1 ¼ cups lemon juice)
¾ cups Sugar
4 cups Water
10 whole Strawberries with hulls removed
⅓ cups Fresh Basil
½ cups Vodka (optional)
Using a lemon press, juice the lemons into a large pitcher. Add the sugar and the water and stir to combine and dissolve the sugar. Add the strawberries and basil. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture for about 20 seconds, just until the mixture turns pink and the basil is finely chopped. (If you do not have an immersion blender a standard blender will do the trick). Add alcohol if desired. Serve with lots of crushed ice, a garnish of fresh basil and go sit out by the pool and enjoy!

Book Review – The Blue Orchard by Jackson Taylor

I must admit that 8 times out of 10 I am drawn to a book by it’s cover.  I know, “Never judge a book by it’s cover.”  But some of the covers just look so nice.  Truthfully I HATE knowing anything about a book before I read it.  I RARELY read the book jacket.  I always find they give away too much.  I like to be suprised.  So that leaves me three options for choosing a book.  8 out of 10 times I choose based on the cover.  1 out of 10 I choose based on a recommendation by a friend and 1 out of 10 I choose based on genre.

I chose “The Blue Orchard” based solely on the cover.  There is a woman in an oldfashioned looking car driving towards an orchard.  Based on the cover I could sermise that the main character was a woman, the setting was early 1900′s and had something to do with an orchard.  Sounds like a winner to me because I love anything to do with farming, especially when set in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s.

The book begins with the arrest of Verna Krone, the main character.  Unclear as to what is really happening we only know that it is likely around 1950 -1960, she is working with a black doctor and is accused of performing “illegal surgeries”.  As she is awaiting trial, she retreats to the family peach orchard where she take us through her life chronicaling the events which led to her arrest.  We begin with the eight grade Verna. She is forced to drop out of school to work as a maid to help support her poor farming family.  Her mother has arranged a maid position with another family, so Verna packs her things and heads to the nearby farm to be the live in maid.  When Mr. Wertz takse inappropiate liberties with Verna which result in a very unwanted pregnancy we catch a glimps of the path Verna’s life will take.

Abortion continues to be a very hot and controversial topic.  The Blue Orchard remains neutral never speaking for or against it.  The book, a true story based on the authors grandmother, Verna, chronicals a real-life scandle.  The book illustrates a time in American history when illegal abortion was rampant and many times ended in tragic results not only for the unborn babies but also the women recieveing the procedures.

This book was heartbreaking but extreamly eye-opening.  It is not written in a way that will sway your opinion for or against abortion.  The Blue Orchard is riveting and memorable and will astonish you in more ways than one.

Please visit my Amazon store to purchase this book!

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