Cheap Food, Cheap Labor

Fast Food Nation Book Cover.Refer Madness Book Cover.Bushwhacked Book Cover.I’ve found myself in a number of conversations about food safety lately. Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal comes up regularly, but I keep wanting to mention Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush’s America. Why? Because Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose did such great job explaining the political context in which the attrocities Schlosser describes take place. “With republican control of the presidency and both houses of congress, you might want to consider becoming a vegetarian.” (I’m quoting from memory, I don’t have the book in front of me). Bushwacked makes it quite clear that if you get food poisoning, you can blame Republicans for blocking food safety legislation at every turn.

Elsewhere, it’s interesting to see the parallels between Schlosser’s other excellent book, Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market and other sections of Bushwhacked. The tale of the strawberry pickers in California — like similar stories in Fast Food Nation, Bushwhacked, and elsewhere — are heart-wrenching. Why are there so many stories like this? Why do so many people have to suffer at the bottom of the economic ladder, while the few at the top continue to increase their personal wealth?