One of the most common supermarket groceries in the United States, “cloud tomatoes” are a cold, red variety that can produce high yields and sell for a high price. Often featuring only minor variations of the traditional cherry tomato, they are such a common culinary item, in fact, that the company Amazon has reportedly been selling them as far back as 1928.

As for how much they are selling for in recent years, the price is certainly high. First available in the 1950s, $15 is often seen as the mark-up that is charged. They’re currently selling for upwards of $30 per pound — which is a lot of money for something that is grown by hand in Mexico for a relatively small fee.

That begs the question: How’s this going to affect you? Because even though the price of a “cloud tomato” might be prohibitive, that fact does not preclude you from possessing a strong sensibility for what it’s like to run out of the produce. Because in 2014, a team of workers at a Mexican city in Puebla suffered an outbreak of bacterial meningitis. This led to their being quarantined and exposed to an androhemosis virus that spreads via contaminated wind at insufficient altitudes.

In 2014, the Puebla city identified at least 30 employees who contracted the bug, of which three died, and by 2015, the number of patients with the disease increased to 250. According to Bloomberg, fruit picking is a highly-dangerous job, with a “leading agricultural injury incidence per 110 workers per year,” and so while flu-like illnesses have caused some of the exact same workers in Mexico to become ill in the past, no reports of illness were linked to the virus.

In the end, no deaths were officially reported in relation to the 2015 outbreak, but several worker lawsuits were eventually filed against the growers over their allegations that the plant itself was failing to properly protect workers from health concerns associated with tomato picking. One of the lawsuits was brought on behalf of a worker who died that same year. That labor contract ended last month, and, according to The Economist, the workers have “announced plans to strike as soon as the plant is ready to harvest again.” As one lawyer named Ulises Illonas, said, “they’re saying: ‘we want to work. But if you won’t listen to us, we’re going to take our stand and strike until we’re fed up.’”

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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