In this landmark work of photo-journalism, activist and photographer David Bacon documents the experiences of some of the hardest-working and most disenfranchised laborers in the country: the farmworkers who are responsible for making California “America’s breadbasket.” Combining haunting photographs with the voices of migrant farmworkers, Bacon offers three-dimensional portraits of laborers living under tarps, in trailer camps, and between countries, following jobs that last only for the harvesting season. He uncovers the inherent abuse in the labor contractor work system, and drives home the almost feudal nature of laboring in America’s fields.
Told in both English and Spanish, these are the stories of farmworkers exposed to extreme weather and pesticides, injured from years of working bent over for hours at a time, and treated as cheap labor. The stories in this book remind us that the food that appears on our dinner tables is the result of back-breaking labor, rampant exploitation, and powerful resilience.
David Bacon is a photojournalist, author, political activist, and union organizer. He is the author of The Children of NAFTA, Communities Without Borders, Illegal People, and The Right to Stay Home.
“David Bacon renews and updates the progressive documentary tradition with these extraordinary, carefully chosen portraits of farmworkers, their families and communities…A copy should be distributed to every member of the Legislature.” —Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz and Magical Urbanism
"David Bacon allows us to be there. Inside the temporary 'homes' created in cabins standing in the middle of nowhere. Homes that often become permanent by filling them with the workers' hope." -- Ana Luisa Anza, Editor, Cuartoscuro
"Bacon shows that workers are not just victims; they are purposeful, motivated to confront the injustices they face, and often successful in doing so. Their life histories, stories, and accounts make them far more than images on a page." —Douglas Harper, President, International Visual Sociology Association.
“Bacon captures the humanity of workers who work each day in demanding physical labor, in the hot sun, and for poverty wages. This is one of the few publications that captures the authentic stories of California farm workers, through their own voices and with the images of their living and working conditions.” —Kent Wong, Director, UCLA Labor Center
“The political climate in America today makes the contribution of this work of great importance to academic scholarship and society at large. David Bacon’s photographs give voice to the invisible people that are essential to the fabric of society. He not only shows their struggles and importance to the nation but also gives a face to their humanity.” —Geir Jordahl, Director, PhotoCentral, Hayward CA