Lettuce Wars : Ten Years of Work and Struggle in the Fields by Bruce Neuburger

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By Bruce Neuburger

In 1971, Bruce Neuburger—young, out of labor, and radicalized via the 60s counterculture in Berkeley—took a task as a farmworker on a whim. He can have infrequently expected that he may spend the subsequent decade laboring up and down the rural valleys of California, along the nameless and principally immigrant staff that feeds the state. This account of his trip starts at a extraordinary second, after the delivery of the United Farm employees union and the resultant uptick in employee militancy. As a player in organizing efforts,

strikes, and boycotts, Neuburger observed first-hand the struggles of farmworkers for greater wages and dealing stipulations, and the lengths the growers might visit suppress employee unity.

Part memoir, half trained observation on farm exertions, the U.S. exertions circulate, and the political economic climate of agriculture, Lettuce Wars is a full of life account written from the viewpoint of the fields. Neuburger portrays the folks he encountered—immigrant employees, fellow radicals, corporation bosses, law enforcement officials and goons—vividly and indelibly, lending a human element to the clash among capital and hard work because it performed out within the fields of California.

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Extra info for Lettuce Wars : Ten Years of Work and Struggle in the Fields of California

Sample text

More hated than the companies themselves, and that’s saying a lot, was la migra. You did not have to be around Salinas or the fields long to hear about them. And it was rare to hear any mention of the INS from the workers without a tone of intense bitterness and disgust. I had seen their green and white vans around town on occasion, but I hadn’t had any contact with them, and as an “Anglo,” I had no cause to fear them. One day in late July we saw the INS vans approaching the field we were working.

He got back in the car, and we drove some more until they had fully amused themselves. Finally, we drove back to the field where the migra agents had grabbed me, and while they took me out of the car and unlocked the handcuffs, they assured me the next time I ever called one of them a “pig” I could look forward to a trip to the hospital. Later, when I related this story I was assured that, as it was, I was lucky. If I had been an immigrant, I might not be around to discuss it with T H E T H I N N I N G C R E W, O R " L O S A G A C H A D O S " / 4 5 anyone.

Broccoli was introduced to the United States in the early 1800s but didn’t gain popularity until the 1920s. It was the D’Arrigo family that first put the plant in production on a ranch in San Jose. When broccoli was introduced to Salinas, it took a great liking to this cool, damp coastal valley where it grew well virtually throughout the year. S. broccoli crop was being grown in Salinas. The word broccoli is of Italian origin and comes from the Latin word for arms, bracchium, presumably due to the way the broccoli flower extends arm-like from its stalk.

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