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

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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Jesse Jackson

Jesse Jackson

Pastry Chef

Jesse studied baking and pastry arts at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Jesse competed in the state competition for SkillsUSA. He won 1st place in commercial baking and placed 4th in the national competition. After graduation, Jesse moved to Boston and enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park for another degree in baking and pastry arts. He was then offered the position of executive pastry chef at No.9 Park, one of the country’s most esteemed restaurants. After two years, Jesse started a business called Fedora Doughnuts, a specialty doughnut and coffee catering company.

If Mars was livable, and you accept a one-way ticket to host a party there, who would you invite (4 guests max), and what would you cook?
I would invite my mother because she birthed me and has ALWAYS supported me throughout my life and career. I would invite Jeff Goldblum, a handsome, suave, slender gentleman (like myself), and a great conversationalist. He would make dining interesting. Dominique Ansel: a visionary pastry chef. I would LOVE to pick his mind about innovation and creativity. Lastly, I would invite my mentor and godmother, Darcy Sala. She taught me everything I know about food and hospitality. I wouldn’t be where I am today in my career without her. I would cook the cuisine I love most: Carolina BBQ! Ribs, brisket, cornbread, slaw, smoked sausage.

Do you have any ridiculous goals in life?
Apart from being a pastry chef, I am also an avid real estate investor. So, I suppose a “ridiculous goal” would be to own 1000 rental properties across the United States, but I’m in no rush… at least before I retire.

What’s your favorite food holiday?
Favorite food holiday is National Croissant Day!

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