This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Harvest of Shame

In 1960, CBS News broadcast the now iconic program, Harvest of Shame, in which Edward R. Murrow exposed the disgusting way in which migrant farm workers were being treated in this country. They aired the program the day after Thanksgiving. For years, I showed it to my classes right before Thanksgiving, to encourage them to think critically about the meal they were about to enjoy. It is out there on YouTube and I hope that you will repeat my practice, because the situation of farm workers is different, but not really better than it was more than a half century ago. A very large share of the nation's food is dependent upon the work of undocumented immigrants, and their plight is obviously a current political controversy

But the issue of food and politics goes even beyond the situation of people who get our food to us. A blog post today by chef Tom Colicchio reminds us that politicians in the U.S. have been favoring the rich over the poor in terms of taking away food stamps, and have been favoring agribusiness instead of the consumer in terms of what gets produced, and how, and at what price. 
It’s harder to see, maybe, how policy can make us fat or sick, make the price of a head of broccoli more expensive than a hamburger. But the time has come to acknowledge that food policy plays a huge role in our everyday lives — from what’s on the table every day (or what isn’t) to the health of our kids and communities.
So, when we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, we need to give some thought to why we are eating what we're eating, and about the real situation of those absolutely necessary undocumented immigrants and other exploited workers who make Thanksgiving feasts possible. 

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