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Originally published July 7 2011

New book 'Tomatoland' exposes horrors of conventional agriculture

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Most people are largely unaware of the dirty secrets lurking behind much of the food found at grocery stores, including the many fruits and vegetables that line the produce aisle year-round.

Massive amounts of applied chemical pesticides and fertilizers, genetic engineering, and even slave labor are just a few of the many disturbing trends that plague industrial agriculture.

In the hard-hitting new book Tomatoland, investigative food journalist Barry Estabrook gives a first-hand account of the horrific realities of modern agriculture so sobering that practically every reader will be prompted to start his own backyard garden as the solution.

The journey begins in Florida where immigrants from South and Central America are often hired illegally by large tomato plantations, and tasked with tending to and picking custom-designed tomatoes that have a long shelf life, tough skin, and that appear more visually appealing than they actually taste.

These workers are paid very little, and are often housed in very tight living quarters without basic necessities -- they are also threatened with beatings if they try to escape.

This scenario is exactly what happened to a man by the name of Lucas Mariano Domingo, who was tricked into working for Cesar Navarrete and his brother, two ringleaders at a large tomato plantation in central Florida. Domingo accounts being locked in the back of a truck on numerous occasions, and being docked of what little pay he received every time he took a "shower" in the back of a shed using a water hose.

What Domingo and thousands of other migrant workers from south of the border experience at tomato plantations is nothing short of slavery, and yet many end up having no choice but to stay once they get recruited. It is the dirty reality of this $5 billion-a-year industry that churns out a mostly flavorless product, but one that many around the world continue to unwittingly support.

Be sure to check out this great write-up for Tomatoland in the Washington Post:

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