Fresh Stawberries Are Coming To A Store Near You
Well, we survived our first night in our shack….barely. [cue suspenseful music] It turns out that six gringas really do know how to build a shelter. We all woke up at 4:30am, ready to head out to the strawberry fields. Now let’s get something straight about strawberry picking – this is no walk in the park. The workers here are amazing. They spend hours hunched over in the field, meticulously sorting through thousands of berries for nine to thirteen hours a day. You don’t just need to pick the strawberries, you also need to pack the perfect box of strawberries to be shipped north to the United States and Canada.
By the end of our shift, us LiveDifferent Academy students were exhausted, both physically and mentally. We left the field with a renewed respect for the people who work there. After all, while our time at the strawberry ranch was short-lived, the workers continue day-in and day-out to provide the best berries for their picky and ever-consuming North American neighbours.
The big picture hit us at the beginning of the day – the realization that we are all connected. Even by something as simple and sweet as a strawberry. You see the boxes that we spent nine hours packing were printed in both English and French. The fruit from our full day of manual labour that we had experienced and been paid less than eleven dollars apiece was being shipped to Canada. Whenever we used to open a box of fresh strawberries at home, we would only anticipate the instant gratification and convenience of them. Now we will picture the girls our age who cover their faces so as to not breathe in the pesticides. We will see the foreman of our berry ranch who has worked in the fields for his entire life and is an expert at what he does, yet is paid only a few pesos more than a new worker. We will look at the berries and recognize the effort that goes into choosing the perfect berry – not too small, not too red, not too white and not too ugly.
We arrived home after work to wind and rain. Starting a cooking fire is a challenge to begin with when the fuel is just sticks. But cooking in the rain is harder. However we pulled through, set fire in the rain, and managed to do it all with smiles on our faces. As we were washing our dishes (also in the rain), we noticed two field workers walk past our yard – not abnormal in our town. One of them noticed us and waved as she continued on her way home. She had worked alongside us in the field today and while we left at 3:30pm, the rest of the crew had gotten off work at 7pm and were just arriving home.
So far this experience has made us appreciate hard work, learn the true value of money, and learn how to stay positive under harsh conditions. One thing is certain – we will never look at a box of strawberries the same way again.