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According to figures compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans bought $5 billion worth of perfectly round, perfectly red, and, in the opinion of many consumers, perfectly tasteless fresh tomatoes in 2009—our second most popular vegetable behind lettuce. We buy winter tomatoes, but that doesn’t mean we like them. In survey after survey, fresh tomatoes fall at or near the bottom in rankings of consumer satisfaction. No one will ever be able to duplicate the flavor of garden-grown fruits and vegetables at the supermarket, but there’s a reason you don’t hear consumers bemoaning the taste of supermarket cabbages, onions, or potatoes. Of all the fruits and vegetables we eat, none suffers at the hands of factory farming more than a tomato grown in the wintertime fields of Florida.
Especially this bit:
Perhaps our taste buds are trying to send us a message. Today’s industrial tomatoes are as bereft of nutrition as they are of flavor. According to analyses conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, fresh tomatoes today have 30 percent less vitamin C, 30 percent less thiamin, 19 percent less niacin, and 62 percent less calcium than they did in the 1960s. But the modern tomato does shame its 1960s counterpart in one area: It contains fourteen times as much sodium.
Although Florida’s sandy soil makes for great beaches, it is devoid of plant nutrients. To get a successful crop, they pump the sand full of chemical fertilizers and can blast the plants with more than one hundred different herbicides and pesticides, including some of the most toxic in agribusiness’s arsenal.
Workers are exposed to these chemicals on a daily basis. The toll includes eye and respiratory ailments, exposure to known carcinogens, and babies born with horrendous birth defects. Not all the chemicals stay behind in the fields once the tomatoes are harvested. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has found residues of 35 pesticides on tomatoes destined for supermarkets.
An industrial tomato grower has no control over what he spends on fuel, fertilizer (which requires enormous quantities of natural gas in its manufacture), and pesticides, but he can control what he pays the men and women who plant, tend, and harvest his crops. This has put a steady downward pressure on the earnings of tomato workers. Those cheap tomatoes that fill produce sections 365 days a year, year in and year out, come at a tremendous human cost. Although there have been recent improvements, a person picking tomatoes receives the same basic rate of pay he received 30 years ago. Adjusted for inflation, a harvester’s wages have actually dropped by half over the same period. Florida tomato workers, mostly Hispanic migrants, toil without union protection and get neither overtime, benefits, nor medical insurance. They are denied basic legal rights that virtually all other laborers enjoy. Lacking their own vehicles, they have to live near the fields, often paying rural slumlords exorbitant rents to be crammed with 10 or a dozen other farmworkers in moldering trailers with neither heat nor air conditioning and which would be condemned outright in any other American jurisdiction.
Paid on a “piece” basis for every bushel-sized basket they gather, tomato pickers are lucky to earn 70 dollars on a good day. But good days are few. Workers can arrive at a field at the appointed time and wait for hours while fog clears or dew dries. If it rains, they don’t pick. If a field ripens more slowly than expected, too bad. And if there is a freeze as there was in 2010, weeks can go by without work and without a penny of income. Unable to pay rent, pickers slept in encampments in the woods. The owners had crop insurance and emergency government aid to offset their losses. The workers had nothing.
And extra especially this bit:
And conditions are even worse for some in Florida’s tomato industry. In the chilling words of Douglas Molloy, chief assistant United States attorney in Fort Myers, South Florida’s tomato fields are “ground zero for modern-day slavery.” Molloy is not talking about virtual slavery, or near slavery, or slaverylike conditions, but real slavery. In the last 15 years, Florida law enforcement officials have freed more than 1,000 men and women who had been held and forced to work against their will in the fields of Florida, and that represents only the tip of the iceberg. Most instances of slavery go unreported. Workers were “sold” to crew bosses to pay off bogus debts, beaten if they didn’t work, held in chains, pistol whipped, locked at night into shacks in chain-link enclosures patrolled by armed guards. Escapees who got caught were beaten or worse. Even though police have successfully prosecuted seven major slavery cases in the state in the last 15 years, those brought to justice were low-ranking contract field managers, themselves only one or two shaky rungs up the economic ladder from those they enslaved. The wealthy owners of the vast farms walked away scot-free. They expressed no public regrets, let alone outrage, that such conditions existed on operations they controlled. But we all share the blame. When I asked Molloy if it was safe to assume that a consumer who has eaten a fresh tomato from a grocery store, fast food restaurant, or food-service company in the winter has eaten a fruit picked by the hand of a slave, he corrected my choice of words. “It’s not an assumption. It is a fact.”
After months of crisscrossing Florida, speaking with growers, trade association executives, owners of tomato-packing companies, lawyers, federal prosecutors, county sheriffs, university horticulturalists, plant breeders, farmworker advocates, soup kitchen managers, field workers, field crew leaders, fair housing advocates, one U. S. senator, and one Mexican peasant who came here seeking a better life for his family only to be held for two years as a slave, I began to see that the Florida tomato industry constitutes a parallel world unto itself, a place where many of the assumptions I had taken for granted about living in the United States are turned on their heads.
In this world, slavery is tolerated, or at best ignored. Labor protections for workers predate the Great Depression. Child labor and minimum wage laws are flouted. Basic antitrust measures do not apply. The most minimal housing standards are not enforced. Spanish is the lingua franca. It has its own banking system made up of storefront paycheck-cashing outfits that charge outrageous commissions to migrants who never stay in one place long enough to open bank accounts. Pesticides, so toxic to humans and so bad for the environment that they are banned outright for most crops, are routinely sprayed on virtually every Florida tomato field, and in too many cases, sprayed directly on workers, despite federally mandated periods when fields are supposed to remain empty after chemical application. All of this is happening in plain view, but out of sight, only a half-hour’s drive from one of the wealthiest areas in the United States with its estate homes, beachfront condominiums, and gated golf communities. Meanwhile, tomatoes, once one of the most alluring fruits in our culinary repertoire, have become hard green balls that can easily survive a fall onto an interstate highway. Gassed to an appealing red, they inspire gastronomic fantasies despite all evidence to the contrary. It’s a world we’ve all made, and one we can fix. Welcome to Tomatoland.
How did I not know about this?????
As you know, Congresswoman Debbie Schultz and I are totally BFFs. We go shopping on Rodeo Drive and have pedicures and recreational abortions every couple of weeks. And this kind of thing is the reason I love her:
Debbie Wesserman Schultz, new chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, drew a battle line in Washington when she accused the Republicans of “waging war on women”. From here.
But the best part is the fucking hilarious response this provoked from Rep. Kristi Noem
“The Republican agenda is indeed pro-woman. It is pro-woman because it is pro-small business, pro-entrepreneur, pro-family and pro-economic growth.”
As far as I can tell, the logic here is “we are pro-women because we are pro-jobs, as you can see by our total failure to discuss jobs because we are too busy waging war on women, which proves that we are pro-women”. I’m sorry, you have just failed to convince me. She isn’t quite deserving of the Asshole of the Day hat, just some general scorn. I’ll let Miranda take care of it.
An alternative thought about the economy: “Suppose we enacted a modest fiscal stimulus program specifically designed for maximum job creation. My personal favorite is a tax credit for firms that add to their payrolls, but there are other options. And suppose we combined that with a serious plan for reducing future deficits—and enacted the whole package now. Then we could, in a sense, have our cake and eat it, too.
A package like that is not fantasy. I believe that a bipartisan group of economists, if given the authority, free of political interference, would design some version of it. But that’s not how budget decisions are, or should be, made. And as long as one political party clings to the idea that government spending kills jobs, it’s hard to see how we extricate ourselves from this mess,” - Alan Blinder, WSJ.
Anyway Puffin, I must fly. I have real-life meetings all day today.
I have heard a heartwarming report that this billboard actually exists somewhere in Fort Wayne, Indiana:
These folks (a great Facebook group btw, definitely worth following) seem to think that it is real and not photoshopped. And Puffin, I can’t adequately express the depth of my hope that this is real. After all, Mike is a past winner of the Asshole of the Month award here at MacGuffin and Puffin. Unfortunately, until I get some sort of verification, I can’t quite make myself believe it. Some cursory googling has revealed bugger all. (Also it sure looks photoshopped…..)
MacGuffin (who would very much like to have 20 minutes alone with Mike Pence in a dark alley.)
I can’t really add a whole lot to this. I think Reich pretty much summed it all up. Gold star for being excellent and articulate and explanatory and stuff. Rock on Reich.
So basically, we’re fucked.
And now for some gratuitous space porn. I said I was awarding him a star and here
it is they are. Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka, otherwise known as Orion’s Belt. Go here to read more (seriously, do it, it’s really interesting. Nerd out)
Little known fact: I love silhouettes. I also love movie ephemera and art based on comics, tv shows, movies, etc. So Olly Moss’s Paper Cuts are basically a win-win for me. I found the Calvin and Hobbes one on Epbot and then went on a massive Olly Moss rampage. First I found the Paper Cuts blog and found all these, which were recently featured in a solo show at Gallery 1988. Can you recognize them all?
But then I found more and more stuff from Olly, and now I want to be his concubine. He came up with the Panic and Freak Out mug, that I adore, and can be purchased here.
And Raphi, this is for you:
UPDATE: I also found this, which I think speaks for itself
So theres a great big wildfire burning in Arizona right now. Actually there are several. And do you know who caused half the state to go up in flames? The illegal immigrants coming over the border!!!!
Give me a fucking break. Excuse me while I fill out a citizenship application for a country with slightly less xenophobic hysteria. Like Chechnya.
“There is substantial evidence that some of these fires have been caused by people who have crossed our border illegally,” says McCain “The answer to that part of the problem is to get a secure border.”
Evidence? What evidence? Would you care to share it with the class Senator, or are you too busy being a bigoted turd-nugget and pandering to the basest instincts of your electorate? He doesn’t say. Probably because it’s fucking laughable, or it would be if it weren’t such a racist, prejudiced, damaging, horrible thing to say.
McCain said that illegal immigrants set such fires either to send signals, keep warm or distract law enforcement agents. But he did not specify which fires allegedly had been started by illegal immigrants, nor did he identify his sources or provide details of the “substantial” evidence he cited.
Yes, how dare they try to keep warm. Illegal immigrants should just be miserable all the time. After all, they are not American and are therefore not deserving of basic human dignities. Like not freezing your butt off at night. Also there is no possibility that people other than illegal aliens might have gotten cold. Not destitute Americans who have been victimized by the slashing of social programs in this country. No chance. Nope, it’s obviously them sneaky Mexicans!
Oh and check this out, I think I’ve found his “substantial evidence,” (also from the CNN article)
Local media outlets have reported anecdotal cases of fires breaking out in areas where illegal immigrants have been known to cross the border.
So…. what I get from this is that there are lots of fires in Arizona and also lots of illegal aliens and sometimes the fires and the aliens happen in roughly the same place. You know who else is in Arizona a lot? American citizens like JOHN MCCAIN. Maybe he set the fucking fire. Sarah Palin’s been there a lot too, maybe she’s behind it all.
But when ABC talked to the actual Forest Service they said this:
When asked if there is substantial evidence that some fires were caused by illegal immigrants, as McCain said at a news conference Saturday, Berglund said: “Absolutely not, at this level.”
“There’s no evidence that I’m aware, no evidence that’s been public, indicating such a thing,” he said.
They did however, say this, again from the ABC article:
Tom Berglund, spokesman for the federal group managing the Wallow fire that McCain toured Saturday, said the cause of the fire has been determined as “human,” specifically an “escaped campfire,” meaning the campfire sparked beyond the confines of the rocks containing it.
Of course there is no possibility that the fire might have been set by American citizens who were, oh I don’t know, CAMPING? No of course not, it must have been set by evil scheming Mexicans. Now heres my big question. Did they cross the border, set fire to America, and then stay in America, or did they cross the border, set fire to America, and then go back to Mexico?
Fuck this forever and fuck Senator McCain especially
MacGuffin, who is especially irritable due to unforeseen dentistry
As I hope we all know, at the beginning of next season of Parks & Recreation we will discover the identity of Tammy I. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you should get yourself to your nearest TV and start watching the shit out of that show. The first 2 seasons are up on netflix so you have no excuse.) I’m sure we all remember Tammy II.
And I’m sure we all remember the state to which she reduced Ron in season 3.
So we put it to you. Who should play Tammy I?
The usual Imaginary Casting Couch rules apply:
- The space time continuum does not apply- actors can magically go back in time and star as their younger selves. (This rule was established primarily to allow MacGuffin to keep Leonardo DiCaprio around indefinitely.) Similarly, the dead can come back to life, which allows Alec Guinness to star in everything ever.
- The space time continuum may not apply, but accent rules do apply. MacGuffin and Puffin do not endorse Americans attempting British accents. It never works. In certain cases, however, you can simply let the character have an American accent. I truly believe that the uncanny valley of accents is a real thing that exists. An American can do a technically perfect imitation of a British accent, but it can still just be skin crawlingly awful. Take, for example, Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones, or Robert Downey Jr in Sherlock Holmes.
- We reserve the right to ignore certain facts about an actors career. The fact that Michael Caine was in The Swarm, for example, will not be held against him.
- Certain movies shall not be meddled with: The original Star Wars, The Man Who Would be King, The Godfather pts I and II, anything by Billy Wilder, Casablanca,Firefly, A Fish Called Wanda, and finally and most importantly, Buckaroo Banzai.
- Tim Burton is banned for life.
- Johnny Depp is banned for life.
- Michael Cera is banned from playing Michael Cera for life.
If you vote “other” stick your idea in a comment. I thought I’d allowed for write in candidates in this poll, but I guess I messed it up. Ooops.
I found something cool today. It’s a series of paired photographs from Mark Laita’s collection Created Equal. What he’s done is juxtapose photos of polar opposites (the baptist minister and the Klansmen, for example) while also showing their similarities.
In America, the chasm between rich and poor is growing, the clash between conservatives and liberals is strengthening, and evil and good seem more polarized than ever before. At the heart of this collection of diptychs is my desire to remind us that we are all equal, until our environment, circumstances or fate molded and weathered us into whom we have become.
Some of the pairings are delightfully funny, like this one, titled Fur Trapper/Woman With Dog. (Frankly, while the trapper is totally BA, that lady scares the living daylights out of me. She looks predatory. I’ll bet she eats shredded credit cards for breakfast)
Or how about Astronaut/Alien Abductee
Others are interesting and yet quite amusing, like Polygamist/Pimp.
Somehow I find these utterly fascinating Puffin.
MacGuffin (with a hat tip to Andy Sullivan, who originally found these)
We’ve also got a great Wonder Woman poster by Paul Sizer, and a late breaking Batman addition for my buddy Christina.
Justin Van Genderen has been at it again as well. You may remember him from the comic book travel posters, the Star Wars travel posters, and the Superman posters that practically made me need to change my trousers. These are a little different. He’s taken quotes from Mad Men, The Wire, and Battlestar and made typographic art from them.
Next we have a little Doctor Who tidbit from Deviantartist Sbsiceland.
I would watch the hell out of that show!
Anyway, thats all for me today Puffin. Sorry about the radio silence. Summer vacation has me in its grips. Hopefully more regular posting will resume, like, tomorrow.