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Organic Consumers Association

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What Happens If America’s 2.5 Million Farmworkers Get Sick?

Their cramped living and working conditions threaten their health and the nation’s food supply.

A century ago in “The Jungle,” Upton Sinclair wrote about how the teeming tenements and meatpacking houses where workers lived and labored were perfect breeding grounds for tuberculosis as it swept the country.

Now there is a new pathogenic threat and the workers who feed us are once again in grave danger. America’s 2.5 million farmworkers are among the groups most at risk of contracting the coronavirus. And if they are at risk, our food supply may be too.

Picture yourself waking up in a decrepit, single-wide trailer packed with a dozen strangers, four of you to every room, all using the same cramped bathroom and kitchen before heading to work. You ride to and from the fields in the back of a hot, repurposed school bus, shoulder-to-shoulder with 40 more strangers, and when the workday is done, you wait for your turn to shower and cook before you can lay your head down to sleep. That is life for far too many farmworkers in our country today.

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