More than 400,000 children in the United States are torn away from their schools and homes to work as migrant workers with their families.
The documentary, “The Harvest/La Cosecha: The Children Who Feed America”, produced by long time actress and activist, Eva Longoria, and Shine Global, the Academy-Award nominated producers of War/Dance, provides an "intimate glimpse into the lives of these children who struggle to dream while working 12 – 14 hours a day, 7 days a week to feed America." The award-winning documentary profiles three children, Zulema, Perla, and Victor, on their journey from the heat of onion-fields of Texas to the bitter cold of apple orchards in Michigan finally ending in the humid tomato fields of Florida.
"If you eat produce, this issue affects you," said Eva Longoria in an interview with HuffPost LatinoVoices.
"Agriculture is the most dangerous work open to children in the United States," according to the Centers for Disease Control's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). These “children risk pesticide poisoning, serious injury, and heat illness. They suffer fatalities at more than four times the rate of children working in other jobs,” the Human Right Watch organization reports.
Long time advocate for farm workers Eva Longoria was approached to help produce the documentary by Shine Global, an organization dedicated to ‘ending child abuse and exploitation through documentaries to raise social awareness and inspire political change.’
Longoria explains how many children die from heat exhaustion and lack of water. They are also constantly working in toxic environment. She said that even though the pesticide level was lowered, the level is suitable for a 160 pound person. “So if you are a child in the field you are exposed to 2 to 3 times as much as you are supposed to,” Longoria said.
The psychological effects are also most detrimental to their success, she said.
“These children don’t have an answer to ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ They feel like they don’t have any other options because they are stuck in the cycle of poverty,” Longoria stresses.
In her interview, she said Shine Global wants to use the film as a political tool to help change policy in Washington. The Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act), HR 3564, would ‘ensure that all working children are protected equally.’
“As human beings, you have to be responsible about where your food came from and who picked it.
In a small way, you can always eat organic because that means that person that picked your food wasn't subjected to pesticides,” Longoria explained.