‘They’re Scared’: Immigration Fears Exacerbate Migrant Farmworker Shortage

Via Melissa Block/NPR


On some of the threats facing migrant workers…

On a recent, perfect morning at Johnson Farms in northern Michigan, workers climb wooden ladders high up into the trees, picking bags strapped across their bodies. The branches are heavy with fruit that glows in the morning sun. Their fingers are a blur, nimbly plucking fruit and filling bushel bags: about 50 pounds per load. It’s hard, sweaty work.

Apple season was just getting underway on Old Mission Peninsula, a finger of land poking into Lake Michigan, dotted with lush farms.

The pickers range in age from 21 to 65, and all of them are Mexican. As in the rest of the country, growers in heavily agricultural northern Michigan rely overwhelmingly on migrant laborers to work the fields and orchards.

Read on at The Salt.

German Supermarket Clears Out Foreign Products to Make a Point About Racism

Photo via BBC


This supermarket is making a stand on immigrants….

A supermarket in Hamburg has removed all foreign products from its shelves to highlight racism.

Food had instead been replaced with signs saying “this shelf is pretty boring without diversity”.

It’s in response to migrant-related crime increasing in recent months along with general anti-immigrant feeling.

Edeka, one of the largest supermarket chains in Germany, is now going to roll out the initiative to more stores.

A supermarket spokesperson said: “Edeka stands for variety and diversity.”

Read on at BBC.

Brexit Won’t Cripple UK Food Industry – It Might Raise Wages Though

Photo by Matt Cardy for Getty Images


In light of Brexit, UK faces a similar problem to the U.S. in terms of farming and immigrants; raising wages could be a solution….

We have a repeat of the complaint by the farming and food industry that Brexit is going to cripple it. The argument is that lots of EU nationals work in the sector, after Brexit they won’t be there and whaddawegonado? The answer being that those businesses will have to raise wages in order to get British people to do those jobs. This is not exactly rocket science here. But the complaint is still being made:

More than a third of UK firms in the ‘farm to fork’ sector are warning their businesses are “unviable” without access to EU workers after Brexit.

Read on at Forbes.

No Sanctuary, Fewer Farmhands: How Dairyland Suffers Under Trump Agenda

Photo by Darren Hauck

How Trump’s immigration policies are harming the dairy industry…

As one of the state’s largest industries and the core of its Cheesehead identity, dairy production is heavily dependent on immigrant workers.

Farmers say few if any U.S. citizens apply for these jobs. In addition, while farmers who grow seasonal crops such as blueberries can bring temporary workers into the country under the H-2A visa program, the dairy industry does not qualify because cows must be milked year-round.

Driscoll and some other farmers say the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown is making it harder to find workers. In Trump’s first 100 days, Immigration and Customs Enforcement made more than 40,000 arrests nationwide, about 35 percent higher than the same period last year. That has affected the Midwest region, including Wisconsin.

Read on at Reveal.

Deportation Fears Prompt Immigrants To Cancel Food Stamps

Via Yoon S. Byun/Boston Globe/Getty Images
Via Yoon S. Byun/Boston Globe/Getty Images


The Trump administration’s promise to deport millions leads some immigrants to cancel their SNAP benefits…

Groups that help low-income families get food assistance are alarmed by a recent drop in the number of immigrants seeking help. Some families are even canceling their food stamps and other government benefits, for fear that receiving them will affect their immigration status or lead to deportation. Many of the concerns appear to be unfounded but have been fueled by the Trump administration’s tough stance on immigration.

Officials at Manna Food Center in Montgomery County, Md., report that about 20 percent of the 561 families they have helped apply for food stamps, or SNAP benefits, in the past few months have asked that their cases be closed.

Read on at The Salt.

Food, Immigrants, and the Fabric of the Body Politic


Our Rotten Immigration Policies Have Left Us With a Bunch of Rotten Food

Via Rueters/Lucy Nicholson
Via Rueters/Lucy Nicholson

We’re in a baffling position: one in which we are simultaneously criminalizing those who harvest our crops, and artificially depressing farm wages by employing laborers in a legal gray zone. Of course, there’s no easy solution. If we compensated farmworkers like any other worker,  some farmers would go broke. Farms would become more mechanized, agricultural production might shift to countries where labor is cheaper, and in some cases food prices would rise.

Read on at Grist.

Budapest Foodies Hope Cuisine Can Help Heal Anti-Migrant Prejudice

foodnews 10.14.2015 hungary

Customers crowd into a bustling Budapest restaurant for dinner. They open their menus, expecting to read about stuffed paprikas and Hungarian goulash.

But instead they find … Eritrean sourdough pancake bread. Afghan pie. Syrian sweets.

“It’s a little bit difficult, because not all the ingredients are available in Hungary. So a few of them are coming from Austria or other countries. But we can do it!” laughs Judit Peter, the bartender and director of special projects at Kisuzem, a trendy, bohemian bar in Budapest’s historic Jewish quarter. “People really like it. We’ve served 80 portions a day — and that’s quite a lot for a small kitchen like ours.”

Kisuzem is one of 10 Budapest eateries that have been serving up food from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Somalia — in solidarity with migrants and refugees streaming into Hungary from those countries. It’s all part of the Körítés food festival, which aims to combat xenophobia through cuisine.

Listen to the story on The Salt.

Will Obama’s Mass Legalization of Undocumented Immigrants Help American Farms?


Foodnews 12.2.14 immigration

Last Thursday, President Obama announced an executive order that’ll change the way undocumented immigrants work in this country. Some five million will be shielded from deportation and allowed to work here temporarily, and those in charge of deporting illegal immigrants will be forced to target those who have broken other American laws — gang members, felons, that kind of thing. Given that a majority of agricultural workers in this country are immigrants, how does that affect American farms?


To read the full article please visit Modern Farmer.

East Harlem Tables: Food and Italian Immigrant Cultures

by Fabio Parasecoli

When friends visit New York City from out of town, especially from Italy, we often end up taking a stroll through Manhattan’s Little Italy, which looms large in the imagination of many Italians. Although they have seen it in movies and in TV shows, they tend to have a limited sense of how and why immigrants moved between different neighborhoods over time. Usually, they have no knowledge of the existence of the “other” Little Italies in the outer boroughs, let alone in places like Philadelphia or Providence. Above all, they are not familiar with the Italian-American culinary world, which they frequently perceive as merely a derivative interpretation of Italian food rather than a long and rich tradition.

As I have discussed in this blog, my exposure to Italian-American food was very limited when I first came to the U.S. Some things looked and tasted very different, but I have grown to appreciate and respect this culinary heritage as an important component in the process of globalization of Italian cuisines, as I argue in my upcoming book Al Dente: A History of Italian Food.

For those who are interested in these topics, The Italian American Table: Food, Family and Community in New York City provides great insight. Its author, Simone Cinotto — a history professor at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Bra, Italy — focuses on the foodways of Italian immigrants in East Harlem during the 1920s and 1930s. Many New Yorkers are not aware of this area’s Italian past, as its population is now mostly Hispanic. As Italians moved to the outer boroughs, African-Americans and Puerto Rican immigrants trickled in, creating the communities that still reside in those neighborhoods today. When the Italians migrated outward, they did so to leave the small and crowded apartments of the neighborhood, embracing the ideal of social mobility and one of its most beloved symbols: home ownership. They also did so to avoid getting confused with the newcomers, mostly people of color, as Italians had struggled for decades to assert their whiteness. This is particularly significant because Italian immigrants had themselves suffered from discrimination when they arrived in large numbers beginning in the late 1800s.

Cinotto explains how educators and other administrative authorities used food and nutrition to try and fold Italians into the American mainstream. At the time, the traditional foodways of those newly migrated from Italy clashed with the widely accepted scientific theories that considered an abundance of vegetables and scarce consumption of meat and dairy to not be conducive to an active and healthy life as a productive member of American society. However, Italian-Americans were not limited by an absolute respect of the customs form the old world. As Cinotto clarifies, “The symbolic and material ‘stuff’ from which ethnicity is created need not be rooted in an immemorial past to be authentic, but does need to be meaningful in the lived experiences of people in a group and useful in articulating the relations of power in which they are involved.”

In the process of establishing an identity that could work in their new environment, food also played a role in building and enforcing borders and differences. Cinotto observed, “Ethnic traditions were created by family members drawing selectively on and recasting old values and cultural features as a result of new economic and social realities, including relations with neighboring ethnic groups and emerging ideas about race and morality.”

Italians adopted the same behaviors that, in the past, had been used to discriminate them with the goal of underscoring the lack of civility and culture of fresh waves of newcomers, looking for a better future just like they did a few decades before.

Because of this, I really hope this book will be translated into Italian and become accessible to non-English speaking Italians. At this historical junction, Italy has become the destination for migrants from Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia. Despite the numbers are still quite limited, many Italians feel threatened in their cultural identity and economic privilege. As it often happens, food becomes the arena were these tensions are played out in everyday life. Grocery stores, stalls at the local markets, and ethnic restaurants opened and managed by immigrants are a source of suspicion. Their specialties and dishes may be fun for an occasional outing or for a party, but very little has been absorbed into the everyday diets of Italians.

Who knows, maybe a greater awareness of the discrimination Italians had to endure when they were immigrants would engender reflections about the current situation. And as the Italian economy struggles to recover from the Eurozone crisis, Italians are migrating again. We can only hope history won’t repeat itself, this time around.

(from Huffungton Post)