Follow the lettuce

In the daily struggle to get our children to eat healthfully, most of us don’t think much about the migrant workers who make it possible for us to have fresh lettuce, spinach, broccoli and many other kinds of other produce year-round.

But this New York Times piece about the toll such a low-paying, itinerant life has on the farmworkers’ children has been haunting me since I read it. Following the lettuce from California to Arizona and Oregon, many families can’t keep their kids in school. According to the writer, Patricia Leigh Brown, who visited a Salinas, California, school where many students are the children of farmworkers, “97 percent of students are near the poverty line, compared with 56 percent statewide…. 77 percent have limited English, versus 32 percent throughout California. Only 6 percent of parents here attended college — the state average is 55 percent — and many are illiterate in their native language.”

Add to that violence in the community and cramped, inadequate living conditions (some children have to wash up in the morning at the local truck stop), and these kids have a whole lot stacked against them. Puts all those arguments with your children about eating their broccoli into some context.


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