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Dr Sarah Taber @SarahTaber_bww
, 22 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
I do a lot of food safety audits. That means rolling up to farms w clipboard in hand.

Farmers get real annoyed when people w clipboards annoying.

But their workers get TERRIFIED.

That's in a good year when there aren't ICE purges. This year is different.
A big part of food safety audits is talking to the folks picking & handling the food. We have to confirm that the farm's done the basic due diligence like communicating when & how to wash hands *in the right language,*" etc.
Every once in a while you'll run into a picker who's way too nervous to respond. They keep looking at their boss & not saying anything. Or if it's an orchard, a lot of pickers climb way up to pick at the very top of the tree & stay there till the inspector's gone.
I'm not there to give pickers a hard time, I'm there to make sure their boss is on the ball. Providing clean bathrooms & a place to wash hands. So I tell nervous pickers gracias, lo siento por interromperse & find another picker who's been through some audits & knows the drill.
But this year, dang near every farmworker is clammed up. Funny enough, these ICE purges have everyone freaked out. The last thing they want to see is a gringo with a clipboard.

It makes it really hard to tell if the farmer's doing their job or not.
Most farmers will at least have the respect to be classy about their workers' situation (that they voted for) during an audit.

But #NotAllFarmers.
Recently had a farmer who thought it was hilarious.

"Did you see that? I can't get em to pay ME that much mind, I shoulda told them you're in charge of visas!"

I said no thanks. He kept going on about how funny it was when they snapped to attention over getting inspected.
There's kind of a happy ending, I guess? This farm's audit ... did not go well.

Food safety takes clear communication, & management being thoughtful & proactive about their responsibilities.

Farmers that think fear of deportation is funny don't have that.
I keep going back to that romaine lettuce outbreak last year.

We still haven't been able to find out where it came from or how it spread over such a huge area.
What does it take to pull off food safety? Clear & open communication. Workers being able to tell their boss "This machine's not ready yet" and have that heard.

You. Cannot. Have. That. When. Your. Workforce. Is. Terrified.
I think folks don't appreciate how much agriculture is a black market.

How are we supposed to run anything competently when the people doing the work are pushed into the shadows?
Cleaning harvest equipment & facilities have to be done when it's not being used for work.

Aka at night.

Aka by night crews, aka by the scaredest, brokest, illegalest, most desperate immigrants.
Cleaning food & harvest equipment is a slippery, dangerous, time-consuming pain in the ass. Night sanitation crews are plagued by injuries, fatalities, high turnover, & the fact that it's tough to get the job done right even without all that.
Can't help thinking it may not be a coincidence that we stopped having big leafy greens outbreaks for a while. Then ICE started hunting people down, and the outbreaks came back.
Again, we still don't know how this outbreak happened. We may never know.

But we do know that there's a huge link between high turnover+bad worker conditions, and dirty food.
Guess what folks. You know all that hippy-dippy stuff about how "if a culture harms some ppl, it harms us all"?

It's 100%, scientifically true.
This article may be news to a lot of folks, but that's how it is. Agriculture is completely two-faced. A lot of the cute, "salt of the earth" family farmers & the evil corporate farms exploiting immigrants ARE THE SAME PEOPLE.
Are there family farms out there doing the right thing? Absolutely. I work w them on the reg.

And we *cannot* give farmers who are doing it right due credit, unless we recognize how much of an oddity they are.
Anyway, this thread is veering off into being centered around making sure both consumers & farmers feel good about farmers, which is kinda not the point here.

The point is, believing in the righteousness of family farms is like believing in "four legs good two legs bad."
Good farming is something you DO. It is not something you ARE. There is nothing magical about being family-run that makes a business virtuous or good to its workers.
For tonight's homework, let's all contemplate what's really going on in a community that can get together to "form a NATO-like pact" to swap workers, but can't figure out how to use the H2A system like God intended.

This article doesn't even scrape the surface of the bullshit.
*Farmers get real annoyed when people w clipboards *show up.* ugh
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