Tuesday, August 05, 2008
The Postville Legacy: Do You Want Lies With That Hot Dog?
My dear blog friend Border Explorer has been diligent and passionate in her series about the Postville Raid. Called "the biggest immigration raid in American history," this raid has also opened the largest meat packing scandal since Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle, about the corruption in the meat packing industry in the early part of the 20th Century.
And here we have history repeating itself. Sinclair wrote about horrific working conditions, the exploitation of children and women, about workers falling into rendering tanks and being ground along with animal parts into beef lard. Sinclair wrote about a system that was supposed to bring progress to our nation; instead, the increased industrialization bred chaos, amorality, greed and a kind of individuality that has no regard for human dignity - forget about animal rights.
Agriprocessers, in Postville, hired illegal immigrants, mostly from Guatamala. The employees were coerced, threatened, beaten, kept in what they describe as a "slave-like" environment. The raid was conducted not as an immigration raid, but instead as a criminal raid with the main thrust being about "identity theft." Workers had been given "cooked" social security numbers. The immigrants, mostly unable to speak or read English, had no idea what they were being given. Opps. Their bad.
Much has been made over the fact that Agriprocessers is also the largest Kosher Meat and Poultry producer in the USA. Believe me, this has nothing to do with Orthodox Jewry. Nothing. This is about the over-industiralization of our economy.
The Meatrix is a small website I found after watching Fast Food Nation. This film shows the dark side of the fast food industry, from the ground up. The exploitation of illegal immigrants is a huge part of this chain of greed. Franchise America builds itself on cheap labor (subtext: illegal immigrants), sloppy production, and lies. Hey, Neocons? You want to stop illegal immigration? Shut down McDonalds.
At the Eat Well website, I put in my zip code: I am within 20 miles of 22 farmers markets, 2 restaurants, and 13 stores. There are actually more organic restaurants that they don't have on the list - but the telling piece is the 22 farmers markets. I go, weekly. They are local California farmers, with either Certified Organic or one step below Certified produce. I save money, I eat better, and I support the local economy. Give this a try.
Another site, Sustainable Table, gives all kinds of tips for building community, healthy eating, and defying the conglomerates. It is a way to connect us to our land, our food, and with each other.
The tactics used in the Postville Raid bespeak a totalitarian society. We know what we've become over the last eight years of the Bush Administration. But I contend this has been going on for far longer than Bush has even walked this earth. Greed is not new, nor is the exploitation of the poor and disenfranchised. But we can speak out, we can do more. We really can.