STRAWBERRIES HAVE THE COLOR OF BLOOD

When you buy the red juicy strawberries that flood the market do not forget  those who pick them.

strawbpickers1

Because, the fruit that can yield more revenue than any other agricultural product  is one of the  lowest paid and most labor- intestive crops. To harvest the fragile strawberries, the laborers bent at the waist for many hours and pick them with great care. Then they arrange them  neatly in baskets. The same  persons are often responsible  not only for gathering and  packing the fruits but also for cultivating the plants.

strawberry-picker

The photo is taken from indymedia *

In Greece, most of those workers are migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Bulgaria, Albania. The fact that many of them are illegal immigrants  helps explain green -house strawberry boom in the area of New Manolada in the district of Ileía (W. Peloponnesos). Today almost 95% of Greek production comes from that area. Greece and Russia are among the major consumers, though in the last years Greek strawberries are  exported to many European markets too.

By relying on poor illegal migrants, New Manolada’s growers offer wages which are very high to sustain a Pakistani or Albanian family back home but very low to sustain a  family in Greece.   The “lucky” immigrants live in crowded conditions (that is, 10-25 persons per house). The “unlucky” ones  live in the greenhouses, where  there are no toilets and drinking water….

But the worst part of the job is that some of the nastiest chemicals are used in non organic fields and greenhouses. The soil is zapped clean with powerful chemicals, the fruit is protected with potentially cancer- causing fungicides. It is not surpising that life expectancy for a  strawberry worker who is exposed to chemical toxic drift  is less than 50 years.

When you buy non- organic strawberries, when you  wash them thoroughly under clean, running water before eating them,
do not forget those workers who  came from far away lands….
leaving behind their beloved families….
living under miserable conditions…
trying to sustain the hope for a better future, though.

 

Click here for informations about Nea Manolada’s strawberry workers and first immigrant’s strike in Greece for better working and living conditions as well as higher wages:

http://clandestinenglish.wordpress.com/2009/06/19/immigrant-workers-degradation-practices-new-incident-of-brutal-abuse-in-nea-manolada-peloponnese-to-set-an-example/

*You can find many images of this subject at indymedia.

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8 thoughts on “STRAWBERRIES HAVE THE COLOR OF BLOOD

  1. Ella Mou! Wanted to pass along some PRAISE!
    I’m a huge fan of your blog! I am about to celebrate 10,307 views of my blog, since 10 Dec 09. Couldn’t do that without celebrating “with” you. Just wanted you to know I’ve “Tagged” your wonderful blog. Hard to resist a really good thing. It is featured on my “Serve Me Well”, most recent posting, entitled, “What’s love got to do with it? … Food that is!”

    I am a huge admirer of your blog, and your talent. Visit me if you get a chance, shall be a sincere pleasure!
    Hope you like it!
    Warmest regards,
    Penelope
    http://ptsaldari.posterous.com

  2. Penelope mou, I found your comment burried amongst the spams.

    Thank you… thank you for your kindness, your generosity, your open, warm heart. Your praise means a lot to me!
    Now, I am going to put on my best dress and celebrate with you! 🙂

  3. Great of you Mariana to point out the plight of a whole strata of people that are totally exploited and toil without any hope of improving their lot in life. So sad.

  4. I’ve read somewhere that the waves of strawberries require waves of immigrants.Since the labor market is about profit, the key to profit is low wages and controlled labor force. Is there more controlled and lower-cost labor force than illegal immigrants? Yes Joumana, it is very sad.

  5. Farmers usually don’t get a fair share of trade. Sighs….they work so hard, but their means of living just don’t get any better.
    Whenever I noticed certain products in the supermarket suddently 5% more expensive, I was really wondering how much of these 5% really go to the farmers!

  6. How much of our food money actually goes to the farmers? On average, farmers receive 20-25 % of every euro that consumers spend on food.:(

  7. Magda, though immigrants represent a valuable workforce to Greece, the illegal workers suffer from mistreatment and exploitation. And the worst thing is that Greek and EU legislation has failed to protect their rights.

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