The Times' ongoing "Product of Mexico" series — on the Mexican laborers who endure, among other things, poor living conditions and months without pay working on factory farms that send their produce to the United States — has understandably drawn dozens of letters expressing shock and outrage.
But while most letters have been from readers dismayed by the idea that their food purchases may help sustain an industry propped up by cheap, exploited labor, a sizable portion have had positive things to say about the work of the journalists.
Many readers have heaped praise upon reporter Richard Marosi and photographer Don Bartletti, whose work they said raises awareness on an important issue. Several wrote that the series exemplifies the value of investigative journalism.
Indio resident Carl Poirot mixes his congratulations with criticism for American retailers:
Congratulations on the excellent edition of Dec. 7, especially the first of the four-part investigation into the exploitation of Mexican children and adults who pick our fruit and vegetables for a pittance and who are "trapped for months at a time in rat-infested camps often without beds and sometimes without functioning toilets or a reliable water supply."
U.S. retailers who profit from these reprehensible practices and conditions should be held accountable for fostering such injustice and greed. Thank you for this series and for other excellent articles.
Frances O'Neill Zimmerman of La Jolla praises The Times for spotlighting the effects of globalization:
The gritty truth of globalization is extraordinarily portrayed by Times reporter Richard Marosi and photographer Don Bartletti. Maybe this series will improve the balance between haves and have-nots.
Underpaid and seldom-paid Mexican tomato harvesters bathe their children in irrigation canals because of a lack of potable water and they sleep nights on the floors of shacks. Meanwhile, stateside, spokesmen for Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, Safeway and the Los Angeles Unified School District (among others) promise to look into rampant labor and health abuses by their Mexican tomato purveyors.
Dennis Allard of Santa Monica expresses similar praise:
As someone who is troubled by the state of the oligarchy running the planet, I am very pleased to see thorough, well-written work such as Marosi's articles on produce labeled, "Product of Mexico."
The L.A. Times is to be commended for running it. Please keep up the good work.
Los Angeles resident Michele Hart-Rico hails the series as a triumph for print journalism:
Some of my friends are far too hip to read an actual printed newspaper, but only a "real" paper could do the painstaking, in-depth research The Times has done. Many thanks.
Where can I buy U.S.-grown produce?