No matter whether they work in Washington State, California, or Mexico, blueberry pickers perform exhausting work. At Sakuma Farms in Washington State, indigenous farmworkers from Oaxaca must pick forty pounds of blueberries to earn $10 per hour. The company website says workers can make up to $40 a day, but that's only if they pick 100 pounds. 


Felimon Piñeda and his family lived in a Sakuma camp for laborers. One worker said, “We were upset about the conditions in the camp. The mattress they gave us was torn and dirty, and the wire was coming out. There were cockroaches and rats. The roof leaked when it rained. They just put bags in the holes and it still leaked. All my children’s clothes were wet.” 


In the summer of 2013, Sakuma workers went on strike and organized an independent union, Familias Unidas por la Justicia. During the strike, union president Ramón Torres met every night with the workers to report on negotiations and plan strategy. (L) Sakuma tried to bring in hundreds of guest workers under the H2-A visa program to replace the strikers. Striker Jose Galicia delivered petitions to the Department of Labor office in San Francisco to save Sakuma workers’ jobs. (R) 


Sakuma Farms sells its berries through Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry distributor. Joined by supporters along the Pacific Coast, workers are marching and have called for a "border to border" boycott until their union is recognized. (L) In the spring of 2015, berry pickers in northern Mexico went on strike to demand higher wages. Driscoll’s also sells the berries they pick, and they joined the boycott. They traveled in buses to the U.S. border to demand a union contract in Mexico, too. (R)


Do not buy strawberries when they are out of season or not grown indoors by transparent (not just USDA) organic farms. Driscolls makes their money from our built-up habit of American convenience. Avoid mega supermarket chains not even owned in America but overseas such as Trader Joes. Its owned by ALDIs and has been since 1979. Driscolls will be there to dominate shelf space with their Monsanto pesticides if you do.


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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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