I’m thinking about fruits as political symbols because of the Occupy Wall Street protesters I observed yesterday. There were some big crowds in Bryant Park in the morning and hundreds of protesters marched for the rights of immigrant workers in the U.S.–many of them carried images of the tomato as their symbol. This one caught my attention, a tomato inscribed with a single word, dignidad.
If you want to know more about the group’s unofficial emblem, I suggest you read Barry Estabrook’s book, Tomatoland. Estabrook’s book and investigative essays about the tomato industry are what helped bring our attention to the abuse of migrant workers.
The banana is a similarly powerful symbol for unfair trade and poor worker conditions. Which makes Pixar artist Bill Presing’s new statue of a “banana girl” (available with skirt or without) seem more complicated than a cute collectible.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 2, 2012