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Congress Will See Life Through the Eyes of Farmworkers with Seth Holmes' "Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies"

Last week, President Obama and every member of Congress received a copy of Seth Holmes’ Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies.  For nearly two years, physician and anthropologist Seth Holmes lived and worked as a migrant farmworker. His rich depiction of the struggle, suffering, and resilience of migrant farmworkers not only provides a necessary testimony of the lives of those who put food on our tables, but also analyzes the larger political and societal structures that dictate their lives.PHOTO- Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies

Along with his book, the California Institute for Rural Studies (CIRS) presented the President and Congress with a summary of the policy implications of Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies.  CIRS emphasized the role our decision makers play in addressing three main issues:

  1. Immigration status disparities
  2. Health disparities
  3. Work place disparities.

Migrant workers take enormous risks in order to survive in the hope of a better life. They do the jobs that most will not; yet they continue to face immense inequalities in the workplace and in our health care system.  Our nation’s 1–2.4 million farmworkers sacrifice their own health to supply us with our fresh fruits and vegetables.  CIRS highlights the need to provide hired farmworkers with the same safety standards that apply to all other industries; a timely request, as the EPA recently released a strengthened Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) after more than two decades without an update.

MCN congratulates our colleague, Seth Holmes, and CIRS for reaching out to Congress and bringing to the forefront the needs of this vulnerable population.  Seth’s work tells the story of so many unheard voices.  Now in the hands of our decision makers, we hope the power of their stories influences a greater change.