March 3rd, 2009 cate
Tomatoes are good for you being packed with vitamins and essential nutrients but did you know that the tomatoes you eat during the winter months were probably picked by someone living in virtual slavery? It’s best to stick to a general rule: eat seasonally, eat locally.
Now, more about the politics of the price of tomatoes from gourmet.com:
“Driving from Naples, Florida, the nation’s second-wealthiest metropolitan area, to Immokalee takes less than an hour on a straight road. You pass houses that sell for an average of $1.4 million, shopping malls anchored by Tiffany’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, manicured golf courses. Eventually, gated communities with names like Monaco Beach Club and Imperial Golf Estates give way to modest ranches, and the highway shrivels from six lanes to two. Through the scruffy palmettos, you glimpse flat, sandy tomato fields shimmering in the broiling sun. Rounding a long curve, you enter Immokalee. The heart of town is a nine-block grid of dusty, potholed streets lined by boarded-up bars and bodegas, peeling shacks, and sagging, mildew-streaked house trailers. Mongrel dogs snooze in the shade, scrawny chickens peck in yards. Just off the main drag, vultures squabble over roadkill. Immokalee’s population is 70 percent Latino. Per capita income is only $8,500 a year. One third of the families in this city of nearly 25,000 live below the poverty line. Over one third of the children drop out before graduating from high school.
Immokalee is the tomato capital of the United States. Between December and May, as much as 90 percent of the fresh domestic tomatoes we eat come from south Florida, and Immokalee is home to one of the area’s largest communities of farmworkers. According to Douglas Molloy, the chief assistant U.S. attorney based in Fort Myers, Immokalee has another claim to fame: It is “ground zero for modern slavery.”
The beige stucco house at 209 South Seventh Street is remarkable only because it is in better repair than most Immokalee dwellings. For two and a half years, beginning in April 2005, Mariano Lucas Domingo, along with several other men, was held as a slave at that address. At first, the deal must have seemed reasonable. Lucas, a Guatemalan in his thirties, had slipped across the border to make money to send home for the care of an ailing parent. He expected to earn about $200 a week in the fields. Cesar Navarrete, then a 23-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico, agreed to provide room and board at his family’s home on South Seventh Street and extend credit to cover the periods when there were no tomatoes to pick.
Lucas’s “room” turned out to be the back of a box truck in the junk-strewn yard, shared with two or three other workers. It lacked running water and a toilet, so occupants urinated and defecated in a corner. For that, Navarrete docked Lucas’s pay by $20 a week. According to court papers, he also charged Lucas for two meager meals a day: eggs, beans, rice, tortillas, and, occasionally, some sort of meat. Cold showers from a garden hose in the backyard were $5 each. Everything had a price. Lucas was soon $300 in debt. After a month of ten-hour workdays, he figured he should have paid that debt off.
But when Lucas—slightly built and standing less than five and a half feet tall—inquired about the balance, Navarrete threatened to beat him should he ever try to leave. Instead of providing an accounting, Navarrete took Lucas’s paychecks, cashed them, and randomly doled out pocket money, $20 some weeks, other weeks $50. Over the years, Navarrete and members of his extended family deprived Lucas of $55,000.
Taking a day off was not an option. If Lucas became ill or was too exhausted to work, he was kicked in the head, beaten, and locked in the back of the truck. Other members of Navarrete’s dozen-man crew were slashed with knives, tied to posts, and shackled in chains. On November 18, 2007, Lucas was again locked inside the truck. As dawn broke, he noticed a faint light shining through a hole in the roof. Jumping up, he secured a hand hold and punched himself through. He was free.
What happened at Navarrete’s home would have been horrific enough if it were an isolated case. Unfortunately, involuntary servitude—slavery—is alive and well in Florida. Since 1997, law-enforcement officials have freed more than 1,000 men and women in seven different cases. And those are only the instances that resulted in convictions. Frightened, undocumented, mistrustful of the police, and speaking little or no English, most slaves refuse to testify, which means their captors cannot be tried. “Unlike victims of other crimes, slaves don’t report themselves,” said Molloy, who was one of the prosecutors on the Navarrete case. “They hide from us in plain sight.”
And for what? Supermarket produce sections overflow with bins of perfect red-orange tomatoes even during the coldest months—never mind that they are all but tasteless. Large packers, which ship nearly $500 million worth of tomatoes annually to major restaurants and grocery retailers nationwide, own or lease the land upon which the workers toil. But the harvesting is often done by independent contractors called crew bosses, who bear responsibility for hiring and overseeing pickers. Said Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, “We abhor slavery and do everything we can to prevent it. We want to make sure that we always foster a work environment free from hazard, intimidation, harassment, and violence.” Growers, he said, cooperated with law-enforcement officers in the Navarette case…”
Read the rest of this article
November 29th, 2008 cate
You might be wondering why I’m featuring a shredder for this site. Does it fit into the theme of body mind spirit? YES. Shredders not only take care of your personal information on letters that need to be destroyed to keep private information from getting out, but the shreds and confetti from it can be recycled and thrown into your compost pile. I love this shredder for that. Just make sure the paper is compostable. When paper is shredded finely this way, it’s easier to break down, it adds a “brown” (dry) factor to the compost to balance out the “green” wet material. Hey, and if anything, it’s sort of fun. Here’s the product information below:
The innovative Fellowes SB-87CS with Safe Sense Technology features an active sensor that stops shredding immediately when paper entry is touched. Designed for frequent shredding needs, the Fellowes Powershred SB-87CS delivers a high level of performance that’s ideal for small business or home office use. This heavy-duty personal shredder reduces documents to higher security confetti particles, and shreds up to 15 sheets per pass, 50-100 times per day, for a total daily capacity as high as 1,500 sheets. Equipped with a 9-inch wide front feed paper entry, the SB-87CS easily accepts standard letter or legal-size documents. SB87CS shreds CDs in a designated safety slot and the durable steel cutters also accept credit cards, staples and small paper clips. Electronic auto start/stop ensures quick & easy automatic shredder operation. Shredder automatically shuts off and alerts operator when a jam occurs, door is ajar or 7-gallon pullout wastebasket is full. Sheet capacity gauge helps prevent paper jams. Door offers convenient holder for oil, manual and shredder bags. Cabinet-style stand includes casters for portable ease.
Note: You can also throw this into your kitty’s litter box for extra absorption.
Get your Fellowes Powershred Sheet Confetti Cut Shredder now
August 17th, 2008 cate
As a family that has abandoned the city and suburbs for the countryside, the very presence of a book like John Seymour’s “The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It” is enough to inspire fits of joy. A perfect companion to works like Hemenway’s “Gaia’s Garden” and Mollison’s “Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual,” this book is a must for would-be urbanites fleeing the cities. Covering every topic relevant to self-sufficient, sustainable living and farm life, Seymour’s classic provides a great way to start a different life. An update from the venerable mid-Seventies edition of the book, this 2002 release is a fine improvement.
The book has quite a bit going for it:
1. Beautifully made, illustrated and laid-out, this book is meant to last and be used readily and often. Typical Dorling Kindersley quality.
2. An eye-friendly typeface and bright, semi-gloss pages make this easy reading.
3. The shear breadth of the information here is outstanding. Packed into 306 letter-sized pages are the following chapters:
*The Meaning of Self-Sufficiency
*Food from the Garden
*Food from Animals
*Food from the Fields
*Food from the Wild
*In the Dairy
*In the Kitchen
*Brewing & Wine-making
*Energy & Waste
*Crafts & Skills
*Things You Need to Know
4. Good specifics on all the categories of info listed above. You should be able to get started on your way to being people of the soil. Need to know how to kill, gut, and prepare your cattle? It’s in here. Got a hankering to get off the electrical grid altogether? Helpful windmill buying advice is here. Can’t tell rye from barley? You will after reading this book.
5. A helpful list of contacts and companies that can get you started on your dream are included.
This is a fine primer on self-sufficiency. Anyone looking to escape the rat race could hardly do better than to pick up a copy of “The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It.”
Get it now
August 8th, 2008 cate
“Digging into retirement accounts before retiring is a big no-no. Americans should heed two methods to safeguard savings: set aside a liquid cushion and buy disability insurance.
Concerned about being laid off this year? Hey, it’s a legitimate worry. David Wyss, chief economist for Standard & Poor’s, believes as many as 750,000 Americans will lose their jobs in 2008. That’s why financial planners always advise keeping at least six months’ worth of expenses in a liquid account, like a money-market—advice astonishingly few Americans take. Have you ever worried about becoming disabled? Surprisingly, few Americans have disability insurance either, another huge concern.
Nearly 1 in 5 Americans will become disabled for one year or more before the age of 65, according to the Life Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping consumers make smart financial decisions. The number of workers who become disabled has risen by 35% since 2000, according to the Social Security Administration.
Because more Americans know of someone who has been affected by a disability, there is increasing concern about this issue. In fact, a recent survey by Berkshire Life Insurance found that 25% of Americans are worried about losing their jobs within the next six to 12 months because of weakening economic conditions, while 28% are concerned about losing their income because of an accident or illness that would make them unable to work.
The study also revealed that 41% of employees with 401(k) or similar retirement accounts would be willing to borrow from such accounts to cover lost income.
“Taking money from your retirement accounts before you retire is like robbing yourself to pay yourself,” says Larry Hazzard, a senior vice-president at Berkshire Life. “It’s generally not a good idea to stop contributions to your retirement accounts because you….” RRead the rest