Farmworkers in Florida’s tomato fields spend the day filling 32 lb buckets…

March 23-24, 2010

Boston, MA


Do you know how many tomatoes a Florida farmworker has to pick in order to fill one 32-lb bucket? Do you know how many buckets Florida farmworkers have to fill in an hour in order to make the FL minimum wage?


These were the questions I asked students at Emmanuel College (Boston, MA) and Lesley University (Cambridge, MA) to answer during a recent visit. As students poured through the doors of the café, pushing past each other and trying to beat the lunch lines, I stood by the entrance shouting “Answer two quick questions and win a free pizza party!” And I was happy to learn that even though I’m almost a full year out of college, some things haven’t changed: students still love pizza, (especially when it’s free :0)


The purpose of this whole endeavor was to raise awareness among college students about the challenges faced by the farmworkers who provide us with the very produce we eat. So, *spoiler alert*: In order to fill one 32-lb bucket of average sized tomatoes, a farmworker has to pick about 170 tomatoes. And in order to make the FL minimum wage ($7.25/hr), farmworkers have to fill about 16 buckets per hour. If you break that down, that means they have to fill one bucket every 3-4 minutes; that’s about 45 tomatoes per minute, 1 tomato every 1.2 seconds.


And that doesn’t include the amount of time it takes them to run—carrying the 32 lb bucket on their shoulder—to the truck, empty their buckets, and run back to their spot to continue picking. So, here’s my next question:


How many Florida tomato farmworkers do you think actually make the minimum wage?


Written by Carolina Fojo, Bon Appétit East Coast Fellow