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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In his new book The Chain, Ted Genoways, describes the Current State of Hog Slaughterhouses.

The animals, as most of us know, suffer greatly and then are obviously killed, but what about the workers who slave away in these plants. Ted Genoways describes conditions not much better, or in fact, possibly worse that what Upton Sinclair described 100 years ago in The Jungle.

I am sure no one reading this, assuming everyone who is, is a vegan, that slaughterhouses shouldn’t exist and therefore the workers, mostly immigrants, would theoretically not have to endure such vile conditions.

What about the workers who pick our vegetables, what are there lives like? How much responsibility do vegans have for field worker’s conditions and can we do something about it? Shop locally, always buy organic? What else?
 

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I lived in california for a long time, and being in a poor family, knew a lot of migrant worker families. Often my friends were first generation, or crossed over as children.

The working conditions in for field laborers is not great in many cases.

However, my husband was a meat packer for 2 years, and the treatment in those jobs/and inevitable injuries that are sustained from doing that work.... I think the "least harm" choice would be eating the vegetables/grains/fruits.

Also, meat packing companies, like cargill, are always getting caught using undocumented labor/paying substandard wages to the undocumented employees. We had a plant shut down for a month, not too far from me, because of that.

I am not a vegan. But I do think vegans have the most moral position.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I lived in california for a long time, and being in a poor family, knew a lot of migrant worker families. Often my friends were first generation, or crossed over as children.

The working conditions in for field laborers is not great in many cases.

However, my husband was a meat packer for 2 years, and the treatment in those jobs/and inevitable injuries that are sustained from doing that work.... I think the "least harm" choice would be eating the vegetables/grains/fruits.

Also, meat packing companies, like cargill, are always getting caught using undocumented labor/paying substandard wages to the undocumented employees. We had a plant shut down for a month, not too far from me, because of that.

I am not a vegan. But I do think vegans have the most moral position.
Thanks for responding to the thread. Hope your husband survived his two years without injury and any chronic disability.

Unfortunately it is well know that companies like Cargill hire undocumented workers, figuring they can treat them unfairly and no one will complain for fear of being deported and usually getting away with it.

I also agree that "vegans" have the most moral position although I wonder how many of us actually participate in an action that would improve the lives of the field workers.
 

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Thanks for responding to the thread. Hope your husband survived his two years without injury and any chronic disability.

Unfortunately it is well know that companies like Cargill hire undocumented workers, figuring they can treat them unfairly and no one will complain for fear of being deported and usually getting away with it.

I also agree that "vegans" have the most moral position although I wonder how many of us actually participate in an action that would improve the lives of the field workers.
I get a lot of my produce in season from an organic collective farm. Since the workers are mostly volunteers, that could be seen as helping.... or maybe hurting low-paid workers. Not sure. Same with growing produce, am I taking away jobs?
 

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V for Vegan
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What about the workers who pick our vegetables, what are there lives like? How much responsibility do vegans have for field worker’s conditions and can we do something about it? Shop locally, always buy organic? What else?
There are some movements out there. I remember seeing an interview recently about a "fair food" program that seeks to raise the wages of these workers. They claim an average increase in cost to the consumer of 44 cents a year would double the wages of the workers in the fields. A number of major chain grocery stores and restaurants had signed on to the program. I'll try to dig up where I saw that.
 

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I live in a rural community, surrounded by farms. ( i no longer live in california), and getting fresh locally grown food is no challenge. Usually the local grown stuff is cheaper than the trucked in produce. (both are availiable in my town's one and only grocery store).

Just right now I have locally grown kale, apples, cabbage and potatoes, all purchased for less than a dollar a pound. And by locally grown, I mean, I know who grew them, personally.

I buy in town, and in season to save myself money. It would be nice if those actions helped the laborers by creating a demand for American grown goods.

as for meat packing, its a tough job. I'm glad he doesn't have to do it anymore. It wears you down physically, and mentally.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I get a lot of my produce in season from an organic collective farm. Since the workers are mostly volunteers, that could be seen as helping.... or maybe hurting low-paid workers. Not sure. Same with growing produce, am I taking away jobs?
I think you are the tiny minority, so I don't think anyone would loose their jobs. Regardless, I think, at least in this country, most people could not do as you so the change needs to come within the established large scale farming who employ most of the workers.
 

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I think you are the tiny minority, so I don't think anyone would loose their jobs. Regardless, I think, at least in this country, most people could not do as you so the change needs to come within the established large scale farming who employ most of the workers.
In case anyone is interested in CSAs, here's a list (USA only). Warning, some have farm animals. My local one does not.
http://www.greenpeople.org/Community-Supported-Agriculture.cfm
 

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Food is not the only area of concern around laborers and fair pay and working conditions. Clothing is another issue, especially shoes and fabrics like cotton. I know a lot of vegans (myself included) have talked about finding vegan friendly shoes for relatively inexpensive from places like Payless shoes, but many of their shoes are made in places like China where people work long hours with little pay. What do you do? For these laborers, it is their only source of income, even if it is hard labor and not enough to live on. For the buyer, he/she might not always be able to afford everything organic and locally made.

I just have to pick my battles and do the best I can under my circumstances. I used to avoid Dole products until I realized that they own a lot of smaller companies like Chiquita too. even when you think you are buying from a small organic company you find out later they are owned by a larger company like Dole and who knows if the product still had to pass through the hands of poorly treated labor somwhere. Many of my fruits and vegetables in winter (aside from what I grow myself and preserve) are going to have to come from far due to the nature of the climate here. There are a few local farms with green houses and so on but not many. There is no way I can afford to buy all organic produce and the choices of local winter produce are limited. I do often wonder what went into the vegetables and fruits that I eat, or the clothes I wear.

There are community gardens and CSAs in my city too and I appreciate that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Food is not the only area of concern around laborers and fair pay and working conditions. Clothing is another issue, especially shoes and fabrics like cotton. I know a lot of vegans (myself included) have talked about finding vegan friendly shoes for relatively inexpensive from places like Payless shoes, but many of their shoes are made in places like China where people work long hours with little pay. What do you do? For these laborers, it is their only source of income, even if it is hard labor and not enough to live on. For the buyer, he/she might not always be able to afford everything organic and locally made.

I just have to pick my battles and do the best I can under my circumstances. I used to avoid Dole products until I realized that they own a lot of smaller companies like Chiquita too. even when you think you are buying from a small organic company you find out later they are owned by a larger company like Dole and who knows if the product still had to pass through the hands of poorly treated labor somwhere. Many of my fruits and vegetables in winter (aside from what I grow myself and preserve) are going to have to come from far due to the nature of the climate here. There are a few local farms with green houses and so on but not many. There is no way I can afford to buy all organic produce and the choices of local winter produce are limited. I do often wonder what went into the vegetables and fruits that I eat, or the clothes I wear.

There are community gardens and CSAs in my city too and I appreciate that.
Clothing is a major issue. I have another site, fairtrademarket.com that addresses some of the issues around clothing. I agree the amount you pay at the store or online for fair trade, organic and local products is more than for products that aren’t. Although the overall human and environmental cost is lower. This is what I believe and it is my intention to purchase fair trade and organic products but I am not perfect and don’t always “walk the talk”. So I try to eliminate spending money on products and services I don’t really need so I spend more on organic, vegan and fair trade goods.

I also am aware of the possibly that the poorest among us will loose their jobs although I think the “marketplace” will adapt. I think as more and more people demand an end to slave labor manufacturers will change their treatment of their employees or will be out of business.

So basically I try to follow my intentions of being as humane as possible to everyone that is effected by my purchasing decisions and as responsible as I can to our environment.
 

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As far as clothing goes, I buy much of ours second hand. Except the shoes, that grosses me out. :)

I figure that is the least harm, buying used.
 

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As far as clothing goes, I buy much of ours second hand. Except the shoes, that grosses me out. :)

I figure that is the least harm, buying used.
Same here, I buy the majority of my clothing second hand. Clothes are ridiculously expensive anyway.
 

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Same here, I buy the majority of my clothing second hand. Clothes are ridiculously expensive anyway.
I have a similar but somewhat different stance on clothing.

I consider all of my clothing "third hand" as I wear it for a long long time, until almost threadbare. Most of my socks have holes in them, I haven't bought panties or a bra in at least five years. Shirts? Haven't bought in at least four years. Last year I bought a pair of jeans. Jacket for winter, bought it at close out in 2007. I only buy clothing when it truly needs to be replaced. My yearly clothing budget is fifty dollars, if I even use that. I never buy second hand tho, as it simply grosses me out but I figure I make up for it by keeping good care of my clothes and wearing then for many years. (my bestie's nickname for me is "Katie 3 shirt" because I have only owned the same three t shirts for years)
 

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I have a similar but somewhat different stance on clothing.

I consider all of my clothing "third hand" as I wear it for a long long time, until almost threadbare. Most of my socks have holes in them, I haven't bought panties or a bra in at least five years. Shirts? Haven't bought in at least four years. Last year I bought a pair of jeans. Jacket for winter, bought it at close out in 2007. I only buy clothing when it truly needs to be replaced. My yearly clothing budget is fifty dollars, if I even use that. I never buy second hand tho, as it simply grosses me out but I figure I make up for it by keeping good care of my clothes and wearing then for many years. (my bestie's nickname for me is "Katie 3 shirt" because I have only owned the same three t shirts for years)

Sadly, my weight has fluctuated up and down from 89 lbs to currently 114 lbs over the last six years which has necessitated me finding clothes to accommodate (I now have a collection of clothing for every size from 00 to 12 just in case lol). I am amazed and a little envious that you have been able to wear the same clothes for so long!!!
 
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