Immigration and the Food Industry: Forty-five Dollar Avocado Toast and Other Tragedies

By Jesse B Jackson III 


I’m not a very political person. I pay attention to current political events and happenings around the world, but I mostly keep my opinions to myself. I am, however, outspoken about politics when it involves the food industry because it directly involves my career and that of my coworkers and close friends. In the United States, politics plays a big part in the food industry. The politics are often surrounding immigration.


I read an article the other day that opened my eyes to something that I wish got more attention. The article stated that there are about 2.8 million farmworkers in the United States, and approximately 47% of those farmworkers are undocumented immigrants. Almost half! Farmworkers are the people that pick your fruits and vegetables, maintain and prepare animals for slaughter, milk them for dairy products, mill grains for flours, etc. 


That got me thinking about people’s negative feelings toward immigrants. I see so many people holding picket signs and banners and shouting for all immigrants to “go back where they came from,” which is not only a racist statement, it’s also extremely hurtful. Let’s say all undocumented immigrants got deported tomorrow—what would happen to the food industry? What would happen to the economy? That’s close to 1.4 million workers gone. Who’s going to pick up the slack for their work? Are all those people that complain “Oh the immigrants are taking all of our jobs!” going to step up and work sun up to sun down for low pay and extremely demanding physical labor seven days a week? Probably not! 


If all the immigrants were deported, this country’s food economy would be crippled. It’s the same concept as being short-staffed at work. You’re expected to do twice the amount of work with half the amount of people in the same amount of time. How does that work? I’ll tell you… it doesn’t. A direct result would be insanely high prices for food. You’d be surprised how many people will start to care when the avocado toast at their favorite café now costs $45.00. 





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