The Real Cost of Cheap Groceries

Beth Kowitt and Dan Winters:

The pickers often hear about available work through Facebook and will carpool with neighbors and family to save on gas. The region’s warm climate supplies them with some kind of farm work income most months out of the year but when times are slow, house cleaning and lawn work help supplement. A few women had previously held jobs in the restaurant industry but had given it up for picking, which they said was more lucrative. Some workers mentioned their constant back pain—watermelons universally seemed to be the least favorite crop to harvest—and all talked about laboring in the fields so their kids, who they desperately wanted to stay in school, wouldn’t have to.