Boiled corn for dinner

Ana opened her refrigerator.

“Look,” she said, “it is almost empty.”  Then she did the same with her freezer.  “Almost nothing,” she continued.

She turned to the stove which had a single large pot on it. She lifted the lid revealing a dozen or so boiled ears of corn. “This is all we have for dinner,” she said. “That and maybe some bread.”

Antonio, her husband, added, “Well, there might be some cheese.”

This wasn’t happening in some developing country but in a town about an hour from Rochester. And it wasn’t poverty that had reduced them to this meager meal. They both work full-time and although not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, the money they earn could easily buy them food for dinner. The only reason their dinner was just some corn and bread is because they’re Mexicans who are working in the US illegally. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been particularly active lately and they were afraid to risk going out to shop for food.

Actually, it’s rare that they even had fresh corn. On a previous visit, when Ana opened her refrigerator, it was to show me what she had inside.

“We have no fresh fruits or vegetables,” she said.  “We eat canned and frozen foods. We never know when Immigration will be outside the house or waiting outside the store so we buy extra canned foods when we can.”

Ana and Antonio, like thousands of Mexicans who work on farms across the US, plant, tend and harvest the food we eat. The day they came home to that meal, Ana had worked eight hours sorting onions and Antonio had worked ten hours pulling weeds in the field.

How ironic is it that the people who provide us with food sometimes cannot even eat it themselves?

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