After twenty-one years of grueling, hard labor at the same Midwest turkey processing plant, one worker — let’s call him Alberto — is today earning $12.45 an hour.

He handles as many as thirty turkeys a minute as they speed along the processing line. Every shift, he makes some 20,000 cutting motions.

Alberto and thousands of other poultry workers — mostly immigrants, refugees and workers of color — feed the nation this Thanksgiving — and every day of the year.

Two-thirds of the meatpacking and poultry-processing workforce in the United States is Latino and black.

Thousands of Somalis who fled their war-torn African homeland help put forty-five million turkeys on Thanksgiving tables.

In the fields and orchards, Latinos comprise 77 percent of the labor force that adds vegetables and fruit to the holiday spread.

Got milk?

Mostly immigrant workers tend the dairy farms.

Workers up and down the food chain deserve better pay and benefits — and safer conditions.

Fortunately, there is a new effort under way to secure these gains. It’s called the Food Chain Workers Alliance, and it is finding common ground despite differences of race, culture, language and religion. Other union and community-based initiatives across the country are also focusing on this issue. The aim is to build a just food system that benefits workers and consumers alike.

Such a food system would make the Thanksgiving meal easier to digest.

David L. Ostendorf is executive director of the Chicago-based Center for New Community ( He is a minister in the United Church of Christ. He can be reached at

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White supremacist posters on campuses play on ignorance and fear within the very institutions that should be our...

Trump's politics are not the problem.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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