Danielle Michaels, Raleigh, NC
“It is ironic that those who till the soil, cultivate and harvest the fruits, vegetables, and other foods that fill your tables with abundance have nothing left for themselves.”
César Chávez said it decades ago in California, and it’s true today in North Carolina. According to recent data, nearly half of North Carolina’s farm worker families don’t have enough food to put on the table.
It’s no wonder. Most farm workers are exempt from minimum wage laws, and all are exempt from overtime pay, even though they have one of the most dangerous jobs in the nation. Typical pay for harvesting sweet potatoes, a Thanksgiving staple and a major NC cash crop, is just 40 cents per bucket. At that rate, a worker has to pick and haul two tons of sweet potatoes, bucket by bucket, to earn $50.
In anticipation of Thanksgiving, people around the Triangle have been making gorgeous photo and video postcards for a new campaign called Harvest of Dignity, aimed at improving working and living conditions for farm workers and poultry workers in North Carolina. Check some of them out below, and on Toxic Free NC’s website, and if you feel so inspired, make your own! It’s a good way to remember North Carolina’s farm workers - our neighbors - and support an exciting new campaign at the same time. More information on the Harvest of Dignity campaign.
In truth, our own health is tied up with the farm workers. Consider that they work at the source of a stream of pesticide pollution that winds up contaminating our food and our drinking water. When their right to report pesticide misuse on farms without fearing for their jobs is thoroughly protected by our state, we’ll all have a little less toxic chemical pollution to worry about!
Raleigh chef Angela Salamanca of Dos Taquitos Centro.
Long-time Raleigh activist Cy King.
Happy Thanksgiving from Toxic Free NC!