PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Former Fla farmworker tells of grim working conditions

Farmworkers pick strawberries.
rawpixel.com / U.S. Department of Agriculture (Source)
Farmworkers pick strawberries.

Today, Lalo Garcia is the chef and owner of one of the most highly regarded restaurants in Mexico City. But he started his career, as a child, picking produce in the fields of Florida and Michigan with his family. They had been farmers in Mexico, so they were well acquainted with hard work. Journalist Laura Tillman describes the terrible conditions they were subject to .

“I think it was more the indignities that come with migrant farm work in the U.S. that were something of a shock to them," Tillman said. "They were exposed to pesticides, they have memories of being sprayed with insecticide as they came into the fields in the morning."

"Sorry to say for the Floridians who might be listening to this," Tillman went on to say, "but I think that the worst of their memories reside in Florida in terms of both the conditions that they were working in, the heat and humidity, which are of course extreme, and the racism that they also perceived, and exists of course.”

Tillman’s new bookThe Migrant Cheftraces Lalo Garcia’s journey from those produce fields to his post as a beloved chef and creative and generous business owner in Mexico City. Hear the full conversation with author Laura Tillman on this week’s Gulf Coast Life Book Club,Wednesday at 2 and 7.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.