CULTIVATING COMIDA: Cacao Fields and Dairy Cows: The Interdependencies between Mexican Workers and the U.S. Food System

  • Teresa M. Mares University of Vermont
Keywords: Immigration, Dairy Industry, Labor


First paragraph:

The tamales that Miguel[1] pulled out of the large steamer pot as we sat down for our first interview in the summer of 2015 were a welcome treat as my stomach rumbled to remind me it had been several hours since my last meal. Wrapped in aluminum foil because banana leaves are difficult to find in the rural countryside of northern Vermont, these tamales connected Miguel to the foodways of his home in Tabasco, Mexico. In his early 40s, Miguel is one of the 1,000 to 1,200 farmworkers from Latin American laboring in the state’s dairy industry. He first arrived in 2011 to secure the year-round employment that the industry promises and has worked at two farms during this time. Supporting his wife and five children, who remain at home in Tabasco, he has only returned home once in the past six years, though he makes it a point to speak with them by phone at least once a day. For 70 hours or more each week, Miguel works in a milking parlor at one of Vermont’s larger dairies, a form of agricultural labor very different than tending the cacao fields of his extended family in Mexico....

[1] Per Internal Review Board guidelines, all names have been changed.

Author Biography

Teresa M. Mares, University of Vermont
Associate professor of anthropol­ogy at the University of Vermont
Portrait of Teresa M. Mares