Fault Lines examines why wages are so low for Mexican farm workers who pick the fruits and vegetables that end up on U.S. tables

"Invisible Hands", 2015
We examine poor working conditions for Mexican farm workers who pick the fruits and vegetables that end up on US tables. In March 2015 thousands of farm workers in the Mexican state of Baja California went on strike, protesting low wages and poor working conditions. Much of the produce these people pick ends up on the shelves of large supermarkets in the US, like Walmart and Whole Foods. And while much care is put into harvesting these fruits and vegetables, little attention—or money—is paid to the pickers. Many of the labourers are unable to make ends meet with what they take home after long hours of work.

The tendency of the industry is for the retailer to squeeze the supplier. So who does the supplier squeeze? The supplier squeezes the workers. This is a tremendously wealthy food system, six trillion dollars a year. It’s just very poorly distributed. When you pick up an apple, you don’t see the labor in that apple… You walk down the grocery aisle, think about all this phantom labor embodied in all those products. We don’t see it.

Eric Holt-Gimenez, Institute for Food and Development Policy, a progressive U.S.-based think tank
Mathieu Skene, executive producer | Reem Akkad, senior producer | Kavitha Chekuru, producer | Daniel Fernandez, field producer | Dana Merwin, production manager | Joel Van Haren, director of photography | Warwick Meade, editor | Josh Rushing, correspondent