And no, I'm not talking about pre-Civil War Florida. I'm talking about florida right now. Those Florida tomatoes you buy from the grocery might be tainted, not with salmonella (well, okay maybe at times), but with the tint of slavery, and I'm not overstating the case here.
In the past dozen years, police have broken up and prosecuted seven slave operations there, freeing more than 1,000 men and women who were kept captive and forced to work for little or no money and threatened with death if they tried to escape. (For more on the plight of the Florida tomato pickers, see my article “The Price of Tomatoes” in the March 2009 issue of Gourmet.)The article takes Governor Crist to task for
But it is tough to take on big agricultural interests, especially in tough economic times, and in a state that's already reeling from a bad economy, they still carry some weight. And while Governor Crist is popular with the populace of the state, he's not really popular with his own party after his embrace of President Obama's stimulus plan, so maybe he doesn't have the kind of political capital one might expect. There's also the danger of looking cozy with activist groups who do more than lean left. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is an activist group in the best tradition of Cesar Chavez's United Farm Workers. I wrote about their successful struggle against Burger King last year, and they've done more to expose slavery in south Florida than anyone else in recent years.
I'll be keeping an eye on this story and keep you updated as more comes available.