Asparagus slavery campaign abolishedThis article was originally published in Foodnews
THE Dutch government has scrapped a social affairs ministry campaign to improve the working conditions of asparagus pickers after the industry complained that it was a generalisation which portrayed them in a bad light. The campaign, which included a full-page poster bearing a poster with the caption “Dutch asparagus, with a creamy sauce of modern slavery”, was run because of issues with illegal migrant workers. Since crop picking is a seasonal job which is poorly paid, it is often done illegally by workers from eastern Europe who often live in poor conditions. However, the industry claimed that any cases of exploitation were the exception rather than the rule. A spokesperson of horticulturalists’ union the Southern Agriculture and Horti-culture Organisation (ZLTO) said: “If we treat our workers correctly then there is no need to panic,” and stressed the need to work together for a sustainable industry. The Netherlands is the third greatest exporter of canned asparagus after China and Peru, shifting 7 399 tonnes of the product last year, and is also fifth in the global market for fresh asparagus.