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Critical Essay on Fast Food Nation: Analysis of Chapter 1

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Have you ever wondered what it is like to exchange lives with somebody for a week or maybe even a day? What if it was with a plantation worker that is employed by a strawberry farm? Yes, no, maybe so? Well, do not be afraid to ponder over it, because the article “In the Strawberry Fields” by Eric Schlosser, describes the daily life of a worker. It acknowledges the numerous complications and hurdles that they have to overcome daily. Schlosser addresses that “It would be wrong to imply that all strawberry growers routinely mistreat their workers, but some do” (86). Many of the migrants encounter a considerable amount of hardships, which consist of having a low income, restricted housing space, and long hours of work. There have been many solutions or implied solutions to the problems; however, they have not been conducted properly. A couple of ways that might possibly help regulate and fix the issues involve having frequent check-ins and investigations within the farm. It could also be helpful by turning abandoned places into shelters and housing for people who are without a roof above their heads. Another thing that can be beneficial is fundraising, such as raising money for the workers and donating it to them or using the money for projects like building tiny homes. The hardships that the workers face have brought up many solutions that can benefit them and they include: doing annual check-ins and investigations, building homes, and giving out work visas.

California is the location of the largest agriculture industry where many immigrants come to find jobs. However, Schlosser identifies that “Migrants are among the poorest workers in the United States” (82). In other words, they do not get paid enough, which is way under minimum wage. By not getting paid the correct amount of money, there are countless possibilities that have been limited causing the immigrants to experience an unpleasant outcome. Being paid a low amount gives them barely anything for them to spend as well as not having enough money to use for the necessities. An additional component that plays a part in how much the workers get paid is that “The market for strawberries can prove just as unpredictable and disastrous as the weather” (Schlosser 84). There are many factors that go into growing strawberries that influence the market of the fruit. It includes a wide variety of pests, weather conditions, and perishability/how early it is picked and shipped to the store. Due to that, the wages that they receive fluctuate a lot. Schlosser confirms that growers can “reduce labor cost by keeping workers off the books” (86). This means that paying “invisible workers” in cash reduces the amount that the worker should have earned by 20 percent (Schlosser 86). There have been rules implemented by California about overtime; however, “in agriculture, the rule does not apply until the workday reaches ten hours-effectively cuts those wages by 50 percent. And paying less than minimum wage brings the greatest savings of all” (Schlosser 86). In other words, many plantation owners find ways to cut back on paying their workers. The workers are mainly composed of illegal immigrants who don’t have the ability to contact law enforcement about violations of the labor code (Schlosser 86). Without the law being enforced, many workers are suffering.

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The minimum wage in California is 12 dollars an hour; nonetheless, the workers still are not getting a big salary. One way that we can fix this problem is by doing annual investigations as well as frequent check-ins.

Finding a place to sleep is sometimes a very difficult thing to find. Schlosser points out that “Another constant worry is finding a place to sleep” (96). There are some workers who would sleep outdoors or even try to rent out their friend's garages to sleep in. They might end up “paying $100 to $200 a month to sleep in a garage with anywhere from four to ten other people” (Schlosser 96). Schlosser addresses the fact that one place that the workers try to avoid is the labor camps. It is not because of the cost, but it is due to the fact that their possessions might be stolen during their stay (96). Many of the migrants tend to go there as a last resort; however, if there is nothing else that they can do they will go to the camps.

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Critical Essay on Fast Food Nation: Analysis of Chapter 1. (2023, July 20). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 8, 2023, from
“Critical Essay on Fast Food Nation: Analysis of Chapter 1.” Edubirdie, 20 Jul. 2023,
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