I have heard of actor Eva Longoria and the hit TV show Desperate Housewives that she starred in but had never actually seen her perform. So I was initially inclined to give her appearance on The Colbert Report a miss because celebrity interviews with people whose work I am not familiar with tend to bore me.
But I am glad that I decided to watch because it turns out that she is also an activist and producer of documentaries seeking to improve the conditions of farm workers. She spoke about her work with the Fair Food Program that seeks to persuade consumers (individual and especially corporate) to pay just a tiny bit more for produce, that can make a huge difference in the wages of farm workers. This is because the actual labor costs in picking the food from the fields form just a tiny part of the price that we pay at the retail level. Most of the money goes to fertilizer, transport, marketing, and the various markups as it moves from vendor to vendor.
For example, tomato pickers get paid just one cent per pound for tomatoes. By being willing to pay one cent more per pound, we can double the wages of the workers, while not even noticing the extra cost. I was staggered to hear her say that a tomato picker picks about 40,000 lbs of tomatoes per day. And on top of this, they are often severely abused and harassed and taken advantage of. This is staggeringly hard and back-breaking work by people the oligarchy likes to label as moochers and looters.
Florida tomato pickers, such as Cruz Salucio, 23, currently earn 40 cents to 45 cents for every 32-pound bucket of tomatoes picked. Salucio said to earn $50 in a day, he would have to collect 125 buckets of tomatoes.
Farmworkers regularly work 10- to 15-hour days with no overtime pay, no health insurance, no right to organize, no sick days, no holidays and no benefits.]
Her documentary is called Food Chains and here is the trailer.
All of us really have to be wiling to pay a little bit more for food and other goods and services where the workers get paid a pittance and the labor costs just a tiny fraction of the price that we pay.
It is an interview worth watching.
(This clip aired on November 18, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)