A series of articles by Los Angeles Times reporter Richard Marosi continues to highlight the poor working conditions experienced by Mexican farm laborers producing food for U.S. markets. The investigative reporting has already led to Whole Foods canceling orders with one of its national suppliers, and has placed pressure from consumers on other retailers and restaurant chains, including Safeway, Subway and the Olive Garden.
The first piece reveals inadequate living conditions and child labor abuses; UC Food Observer wrote about this earlier in the week. The second piece focuses on the virtual incarceration of farm workers, who are sometimes forcibly prevented from leaving work sites. The third article in the series explores how the company store model traps farm workers in a cycle of debt.
From today’s Los Angeles Times:
“Catarino Martinez said he had gone without eating that day. Esteban Rodriguez said the storekeeper had threatened to call the police if he didn’t pay the 2,000 pesos he owed.
Pedro Castillo feared something worse. “The owners said they will take my son or daughter if I don’t pay my bill,” he said.”
The Los Angeles Times has also developed an ancillary website for the series that provides remarkable photographs, video and worker profiles, including that of Pedro Vasques, age 9, a chili pepper picker who began laboring in the fields when he was six.