To the editor: When growers do not adhere to labor rules, it suppresses production costs. Those costs are carried throughout the entire produce process (from farm to table). Not only does this result in very poor labor practices, as we have seen in your series, it causes our food prices to be artificially low in the United States. ("Product of Mexico," four-part series)
Tomatoes should never cost 50 cents per pound after being grown, harvested, shipped from Mexico and stocked in a U.S. grocery store.
There are many wonderful people involved in farming in Mexico who respect their employees, but most farmers are struggling because of Americans' expectations of low prices. When a pound of Mexican produce is sold in the U.S., the average return to the farmer is disproportionally low compared to the retail price.
Face it, we need to pay for the value of a human being and a tomato.
Roxane Mancini, Morro Bay
To the editor: We worked and lived as medical missionaries for 16 years in Mexico. Your series "Product of Mexico" is spot on. So many work so hard and still remain mired in poverty and live in misery.
Also, congratulations for pointing out in an editorial that U.S. consumers can make a difference, one purchase at a time, by asking for and buying "fair trade" products. The record shows that corporations will respond to consumer preference.
Joseph Michon Jr. and Linda M. Michon, Claremont
To the editor: The large food retailers claim they don't have the resources to keep track of all their suppliers. But here are a few journalists, with likely modest pay and expenses, who turned up all this incredible information.
Glen Janken, Los Angeles