Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fields with asparagus.

Too bad the season for asparagus was over, as I would have loved to try a freshly picked asparagus.

There were field and fields planted with asparagus. It didn't look like young shoots that we usually buy in the supermarket, because it was already going into seeds. Harvesting asparagus starts in April and ends in early June. In the fall it will be all mowed, and the shoots will come up again next spring. Asparagus is planted for 20 years and it really thrives in the sandy soil.

Michigan used to produce the most of asparagus for the US markets everywhere until it all got crewed up. As Mike was telling me, the farmers in Peru and Columbia were encouraged to grow asparagus instead of drugs. It might seem like a nice idea. But government subsidies made it more profitable to import the asparagus from South America, and that did a lot of damage to local asparagus economy in the state of Michigan.

There are a lot of migrant workers in western Michigan. They come with the picking seasons, and then move on. It is a life style, moving their families up from Texas in the spring and then back to Texas in the fall. Some people might think that these migrant workers are taking American jobs and have it easy. The truth is, no American would want to do what these guys are doing.

It's not only that they have to put up with rain or shine. Imagine sitting on a trolley that have extended arms to accommodate a few workers. Seven, to be precise. They are sitting bending down, cutting and sorting asparagus shoots as the machine is moving 5 miles per hour. They have to use a very sharp knife, because a few shoots are cut down at the same time. If the shoot is too old, it is dropped, and the right size ones go into packaging boxes. A lot of times sleek is getting down their necks, hands are freezing, the hours are long, and the pressure is on.

After a long day they go home. We saw a lot of mobile homes grouped together on the corners of the fields. Mexican children jumping on trampolines after a day spent in a summer school for migrant workers' children.

As we told they make pretty good money per day, I think you would agree that they deserve every penny of it!


Unknown said...

I really appreciate your comments supporting the migrant farmworkers! Most of us couldn't eat if it weren't for their contribution!

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