Thursday, August 4, 2011

Farmworkers: at the bottom of the global food regime

"Speaking in 16 indigenous Oaxacan languages, the laborers trade recipes, discuss politics back home and exchange intelligence on who is hiring around the valley and what the job pays. They argue over whether it is better to buy nopales, the fleshy pads of edible prickly pear cactuses, cut up or whole.

In California, indigenous Mexican farmworkers are the poorest of the poor, with a median family income of $13,750 compared with $22,500 for their mestizo — the Spanish term for people of mixed European and Indian heritage — counterparts, according to a 2007-9 Indigenous Farmworker study done in conjunction with California Rural Legal Assistance Inc.

Language is a pressing issue: Farmworkers from Oaxaca speak neither Spanish nor English, making it difficult to follow a doctor’s prescription or respond to a criminal charge. It also makes indigenous migrants vulnerable to exploitation, like getting short-changed on hours or piece-rates, said Irma Luna, a community worker for California Rural Legal Assistance." (Thanks Anne)

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