Sí Se Puede: Boycotting the Human Cost of Grapes in Delano, CA

Shuisum Lau


From the fields to our plates, much of our nation’s fresh produce comes from workers living in conditions steeped with injustice. They labor exhaustively in fields that burst with vegetables and fruit, yet subsist in constant hunger. Along with the struggle to obtain minimum wage, fair and safe working conditions, adequate housing, and health care, the excessive use of pesticides in the fields is a crucial issue of environmental justice as well. The effects of pesticides on the health of farmworkers and their families are scientifically proven to be both crippling and fatal. The pesticides continue to ruin laborers’ livelihoods and health, intensifying every other problem that the farmworkers face. In the 1960s and 70s, one union of farmworkers fought to raise awareness of the many cruelties in the current system of agricultural production. The situation of the California workers highlighted racial, legal, and cost-profit tensions that continue to affect our food systems today. The actions of the farmworkers and the leadership of César Chávez in the grape boycotts of Delano left the face of progress and civil rights in America forever changed. Organizing California’s migrant workers, some of the least empowered and most exploited groups in America, actualized Chávez’s once-impossible dream.


Environmental Justice

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15695/vurj.v7i0.2923

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