David's Reviews > Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit

Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook
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's review
Jul 03, 12

bookshelves: sociology, nonfiction, audiobook
Read in July, 2012

This book is sort of a cross between The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals and The Grapes of Wrath. It is both a description of the tomato and how agri-business has transformed the tomato into a tasteless commodity, and a sociological muckraking of the obscene conditions suffered by migrant workers in Florida. The middle portion of the book is extremely depressing. Decades ago, I remember watching the documentary, "The Harvest of Shame" about migrant workers. For so many migrant workers, conditions have hardly improved, if at all. Poisonous pesticides are sprayed on them directly, without any protections. But the most affecting sections of the book describe modern slavery in Florida. If you eat tomatoes in the winter, then without a doubt, you've eaten produce that was harvested by a slave. There are workers who are not just "treated like slaves"--they are slaves; they are bought and sold, they are guarded at gunpoint night and day, and beaten when they don't work or try to run away.

It is not until the later portions of the book, when some more upbeat stories about enlightened farmers are described, that I began to gain some hope about the future of farming and the workers who pick the harvests.
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message 1: by Renee (new) - added it

Renee Your review is making me want to read this book! Thank you

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