It’s true that whites are the managers of 96 percent of the nation’s farms, according to the USDA’s 2007 Census of Agriculture. But the agricultural workforce is overwhelmingly Mexican with some workers from Central America thrown in. The Department of Labor’s National Agriculture Worker Survey has found that over the last decade, around 70 percent of farmworkers in America were born in Mexico, most in a few states along the Pacific coast. This should not be news. Everyone knows this is how farms are run.
And yet when a company decided to pay homage to the people who grow our food, they left out the people who do much of the labor, particularly on the big farms that continue to power the food system.
This is not the most egregious cultural insult ever. Though it is part of a false narrative – much like the Conservative depiction of fly-over country ( the mid-west) and old Hollywood westerns, where most of the major characters are white Protestants. On some level, especially when repeated for years, the recipients of this mythologizing start to believe they built it, and all on their own. Sure they had the help of laborers who died early deaths, but those folks would not have worked if the boss was not out their riding them everyday.
To borrow Ta-Nehisi Coates’ phrase, the way this ad whitewashed American farming leaves Mexican farmworkers and their children “excluded from the process of patriotism,” even though many identify as American.
Dodge also implied that this ethnic tunnel vision is also the way the big invisible friend in the sky sees things and approves.