jump to navigation

Children of Our Fields November 1, 2012

Posted by ToYourHealth in Public Health.
Tags: , , , ,

Every time we sit at a table at night or in the morning to enjoy the fruits and grain and vegetables from our good earth, remember that they come from the work of men and women and children who have been exploited for generations. -Cesar Chavez

Of the three to five million U.S. migrant and legal immigrant workers, about 600,000 of them are children. It’s difficult to ascertain an accurate count, because they are under-reported.

Most industries allow minors to work from the age of 16, but for agriculture the minimum age drops to 12. The migrant field worker families often have several children whom each year they uproot from their homes and schools to travel sometimes many states away, to work in endless fields 10-14 hours per day from the age of 12. Sometimes as young as 7 because there is no childcare. And they do this because they feel they have no other choice.

From today’s Latin American Herald Times,

North Carolina’s regional coordinator of Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs, Emily Drakage’s, mission is to document the amount of child labor in the agricultural sector, educate the public and local leaders about the conditions in which the children work and seek support from other organizations to get these minors out of the fields.

“It’s a very tough problem. There are cultural and linguistic barriers, economic interests, immigration, educational and health problems, but someone has to speak for these workers who have no voice and are unaware of their rights,” Drakage said.

Farm workers earn an average of just $7,000 a year and must pay part of their salary to their employer to cover transport and housing costs. Children earn $1,000 a year.

Usual migrant housing is filthy, rusted and cramped. Poverty levels are extremely high. Little to no access to health care is common. Health insurance is unheard of. One hundred thousand children are injured by sharp blades and other farm machinery each year.

Farmworkers are among the highest risk groups for:

  • Poverty–among 97% of migrant workers
  • Lack of basic education, literacy and language skills, job training
  • Poor health: respiratory and dermatological illnesses, dehydration, heat stroke and heat illness, chronic muscular and skeletal pain, direct exposure to sanitation chemicals and pesticides, infectious disease, chronic disease, work-related injuries, depression and substance abuse, lack of sanitation
  • Death
  • Sexual abuse
  • Gang activity
  • Marginalization
  • Slave wages and wage fraud
  • Failure to thrive under provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and child labor laws

In 1960, Edward R. Murrow’s “Harvest of Shame” aired the day after Thanksgiving. Fifty years later, CBS News revisits the very topic and details again the deplorable working conditions of the migrant family.

Feeling grateful this month as you prepare the bounty for your Thanksgiving table? In a nation where 2/3 of adults and 1/3 of children are overweight or obese from making poor choices about food, one-fifth of our farm workforce is children. These workers drive the agricultural sector and provide fresh food the millions of the rest of us enjoy everyday.

Related Reading:

Itinerant LIfe Weighs on Farmworkers’ Children (www.nytimes.com)

NOW With Bill Moyers  (www.pbs.org)

Shame On Obama Administration For Sacrificing Children to Keep Agribusiness Happy (www.citizen.org)

United Farm Workers (www.ufw.org)

The Science of Gratitude November 9, 2011

Posted by ToYourHealth in Public Health.
Tags: , , ,

Ok, it’s not a “hard” science, but studies abound. During this month of thanks giving, we focus on how lucky we are and hope that some of that gratitude will stick with us the rest of the year. The truth is, it probably will. Everyone has something for which to be grateful. In Buddha’s wisdom:

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.

Studies find that showing gratitude, not just “being” grateful, increase a positive outlook and make us more likely to feel fulfilled, do things for others, exercise more and complain less. All these things in turn, attract abundance to us, giving us even more reason to acknowledge our bounty. We become mindful of our actions and our thought patterns. We are increasingly aware of how our words and deeds affect other people, are less likely to respond in anger, and are better able to cope.

Even children reap these benefits. According to the Science of Parenting,

adolescents who were grateful showed greater optimism, greater satisfaction with their family, friends, community, school and self, and an overall positive outlook on their life, including positive thoughts concerning their friends’ and families’ support. Research with older adolescents revealed that gratitude is positively associated with life satisfaction, social integration, and academic achievement, and negatively related to envy, depression, and materialism. Other studies have shown that children who express or acknowledge gratitude sleep better and have stronger bonds and relationships with others; these advantages also correlate with children’s development of competence, confidence, connection, character, and caring/compassion.

And, it appears that the benefits of this healthy outlook can last up to six months.

Gratitude, Pilgrims, Indians, Mental HealthIn the first Thanksgiving feast, the Pilgrims were thankful to the Indians for helping them out that long winter instead of killing them outright. But, as we all know, the catalyst for the “movement” was worship–a large part of which is giving thanks to the Creator for the outpouring of blessings even when illness, death, and lack of basic necessities loomed large. Extra large. In comparison it seems silly in today’s world how much we really have, (you got that new 4s, right?) and hopefully we are giving thanks enough to feel fulfilled.

Tears of Gratitude

I’m leaving you this time with a show of gratitude. In my house we have picky eaters. On the frequent occasion when those eaters are not eating, we no longer become cross, force their meal upon them, or make them sit at the table until far past bedtime just to return to table to finish it cold at breakfast. (All these things we have tried.) Instead, we sit them down at the computer to watch this short film and then quietly and humbly, they return to the table and eat. I’m only slightly sorry if they don’t like what’s being served to them, the point is they’ve got a nutritious hot meal in front of them and they will feel grateful for that.

You’re not in trouble, but grab a tissue box and please take 6 minutes to watch “Chicken Ala Carte,” judged Most Popular Short Film at the 2006 Berlin International Film Festival.

Oh, and thank you.

%d bloggers like this: