Editors Note: When ES commenter miked emailed me this terrible story of a young vineyard worker that died from poor working conditions, I immediately knew I wanted it on the blog. Sure, we fuck around all the time, but we also care greatly about what we put into our body — the politics of food and its journey to the table. The new tag, Garden Fresh, inspired by rooms’ posts is a small gesture in that direction. Thanks, miked, for reminding ES that once in a while there are more important things than bacon.
I mostly stopped drinking “Two Buck Chuck” (aka Charles Shaw) when I moved from California to DC and found that it costs like $3.99 here—just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Also, I think it started to taste more like kerosene (or maybe my palate became sophisticated enough to recognize its gassy bouquet).
Whether or not you still indulge in 2-buck, or patronize Trader Joe’s, you might be interested in the sad story of a 17 year-old farmworker, Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, who died of heat stroke working in the Stockton, CA vineyard that grows the grapes for Charles Shaw wines.
In summary: it was a 95 degree day, there was no water available for the first 4½ hours of the work day, when water arrived it was a 10 minute walk away. Maria didn’t get immediate medical attention because the contractor had cut costs by forgoing on required training for foremen.
I’d always heard that the reason Two-Buck Chuck was so cheap and drinkable (at least formerly) was because of a bumper crop of grapes in 2001 or 2002 or something. Never really thought about it until now, but this explanation begs the question: why did it continue to be so cheap in subsequent years with no bumper crop? Maybe the owners and execs turned smaller profits and decided to take smaller salaries.
The story of Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez suggests another possible answer.
Photo: Craig Nuttycombe