Actress Eva Longoria showed her more committed side at the Tribeca Film Festival as producer of “Food Chains,” a documentary about the abuse farm workers suffer and which, according to her, now means the achievements of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta have been dismantled.
Twenty years after the death of farm workers’ leader Cesar Chavez, who in the 1970s led the fight for Latino laborers’ rights and formed the United Farm Workers union, Longoria asked the New York festival audience what it is that’s making us go backwards.
The film documents the six-day hunger strike that members of the UFW went through at the doors of the powerful Publix supermarket chain to demand a 1-cent pay raise for farm workers for every pound of tomatoes they pick.
The film also reviews the dark history in the fields from the days of plantation workers when the United States was founded to the massive abuse of farm workers by vast supermarket chains to get the lowest, most competitive prices.
The actress, known by most TV viewers for playing Gaby in “Desperate Housewives,” said the treatment of field hands in Florida and California is not, contrary to what people think, a subject related to immigration. It’s something much deeper, she said, it has to do with human rights.
“Food Chains” reveals chilling data about the food industry, in which supermarkets alone generate worldwide revenues of some $4 billion a year – but pay field hands an average of $12,000 a year to gather, in the case of tomato harvesters, about 2 tons of food per day.
Or as one of the workers in “Food Chains” says, “We’re poor so someone can be rich.”