As consumers of food, and especially food from grocery stores, we don’t honestly consider where our food comes from. Only that, conveniently so, it shows up in front of our noses and we buy it with little to no effort. Still, the majority of us likely have some form of knowledge as to the existence of pesticides. And by experience, we wash our produce after bringing it home from the grocery store. It’s what you do.
Why do we do this? With whatever level of awareness of the effects of pesticides, we know that it’s an invisible and kind of bad thing. Right?
Now where does our food really come from? The hands of farmworkers, who endure some of the worst working conditions having the most dangerous job in the U.S. Their job is dangerous for many reasons, but as research shows, the most common issue faced by these people is exposure to poisonous pesticides. Direct exposure, to their skin or through their eyes, nose, hair, mouth, or hands. Not only are the farmworkers exposed, but their families are also on the front lines and (most of the time) it is impossible for them to avoid this.
“What’s worse, there is now increasingly solid evidence linking pesticide exposure to an array of childhood cancers—particularly leukemia and brain tumors…As the report shows, childhood cancers rose 36 percent between 1975 and 2012.” (http://bit.ly/1s9UPjE)
The means of exposure are not always direct which makes it harder to control. Often it is pesticide drift that reaches farmworkers, pregnant women, and children without warning. It especially happens near schools and homes, because farmworker communities are usually close if not right next to the same fields where they work. For this reason is has become a public health issue, as well as a violations of these children’s human rights.
“Evidence of this direct correlation matters because, he adds, “these are the analyses that we rely heavily on to make decisions in public health.” (http://bit.ly/1s9UPjE)
Farmworkers are a part of marginalized populations because migrant communities. But farmworkers and their families are the most valuable labor force in this country. They bring you food, food! What you need to survive. The majority of things you toss into your cart were grown by immense sacrifices made by farmworkers because they had no other choice. But we, as consumers, have the choice to change how farmworkers and their communities are treated.
In the meantime, AFOP Health & Safety Programs staff work strongly to create awareness of the serious health effects of pesticides among the farmworker community and the general public by providing training, learning materials and resources, and sharing valuable information on all social media platforms.