31
Mar
10

Cesar Chavez Day

In Days of Obligation, Richard Rodriguez reminds us that even when César Chavez “made the cover of Time as the most famous Mexican American anyone could name,” he and the UFW directly touched the lives of only a small percentage of Mexican Americans. Many farmworkers were (or still are) Mexican-American, or Mexicans in America, but most Mexican Americans were (and are) not farmworkers. At a gathering honoring Chavez, Rodriguez remembers being among “the Mexican-American haute bourgeoisie, as we stood to pay our homage … stood applauding our little saint. César Chavez reminded us that night of who our grandparents used to be. Then the Mexican waiters served champagne….”

I am another member of the Mexican-American haute bourgeoisie, and as a child I played a lot of make believe around picking and planting crops, thinking of real farmworkers, if I thought of them at all, as part of a rather romantic past. But it’s been a long time since I’ve been that callow: the waiters keep serving me champagne and the farmworkers keep growing my strawberries.

Our society does a lot to keep us from thinking about who grows our food, and under what conditions. Here are a few links and reading recommendations to get and keep you thinking about the people who produce most of the food you eat:

  • Coalition of Immokalee Workers
  • Harvesting Justice
  • Dick Meister and Anne Loftis’ A Long Time Coming gives a good historical overview of farmworker organizing in the US, including the United Farm Workers up to the late 70s.
  • John Bowe’s Nobodies tells the story of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and explores some of the reasons for the continued exploitation of farmworkers.

And, if you’re going to eat strawberries, try to get them locally from a farmer you trust, or else try to get ones from Swanton Berry Farm–the only strawberry grower with a UFW contract.

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2 Responses to “Cesar Chavez Day”


  1. 1 Glenn
    March 31, 2010 at 16:25

    I have a small pressure cooker that I’ve used to steam artichokes a few times.


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