A&E / Archive

Book Review: An introduction to Seth Holmes’s “Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies.”

In Fresh Fruit; Broken Bodies, the author, Seth Holmes, reveals the human suffering and injustice associated with the contemporary U.S. agricultural system. The themes that are heavily discussed within this writing includes healthcare discrimination, racism, global pressures versus individual choices, social hierarchy, immigration policy, and structural violence. Holmes’s main focus is the Triqui people, an indigenous Mexican community that has been engaging in newer and consistent transnational migration to the U.S. from Mexico. For this community, migration is necessary in order to fulfill basic livelihood necessities. Starting off, Holmes describes how he and multiple migrants cross the border from Mexico to Arizona, including his experience of getting detained and fined by the Border Patrol. During his detainment, Holmes was denied water and food for an extended period of time. Next, Holmes lived and worked among Triqui migrant workers at Tanaka Brothers Farm.

Upon arriving at Tanaka Brothers Farm, a family-owned farm in Washington, Holmes was met with a hierarchy that placed labor workers at the bottom. Although he noted that everyone on the farm is structurally vulnerable, the depth of vulnerability alters depending on where one stands within the labor structure. As berry pickers are typically migrant workers, they must pick enough to meet the weight requirements in order to not be fired, which would cause them to lose both their source of income and housing. Holmes discovered the physical pain and disrespect faced by the pickers. Through the stories of Abelino, Crescencio, and Bernardo, the U.S. healthcare system is shown to not help migrant workers, but instead frequently casted blame and suspicion on them for the injuries they sought help for. The cultural insensitivity and racism experienced by many migrants caused them to suffer within their bodies and within the larger society that they literally broke their backs for.

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