Incoming Stanford medical student and Mixteca Oaxaqueña Gianna Nino has been working the fields since she as 14. But it was her recent tweet about picking blueberries that went viral for putting farmworker wages in the spotlight. In the tweet, she shares she was paid $7 for two gallons of blueberries and asks how much people pay for their blueberries. The tweet now has more than 65k retweets and comments with many sharing their disbelief for the disparity between what consumers pay versus what farmworkers get paid. The average cost per pound (roughly 8 pounds are in a gallon) in the U.S. for blueberries in 2018 is $4.29.
I’m about to finish up my time in the fields, and wanted everyone to know that we (farmworkers) are paid $7 for two gallons of blueberries. How much do you pay for your blueberries? pic.twitter.com/Om5fAT7TbP
— Yana (@giannanino) July 30, 2020
Nino also responded to people who questioned her tweet saying, “Yes, I am sure. I was out there. Depending on per-piece pay some people make less, and some more – it’s highly variable. I was making 4 buckets at $3.50/each, if I was working as hard as I possibly could. Farms vary, people vary, pay varies.”
She worked the fields in 111° F in Eastern Washington state found, rising at 3 a.m. with the family, and making an hour-long trek with the family to the fields every morning to pick blueberries. “I was a little disappointed about going back to the fields, but you know it’s humble and honest work,” she told NBC Bay Area. The eldest of four children, Nino grew up in Oregon and Washington working the fields in the surrounding area, and on July 4 tweeted that she began her medical journey in the blueberry fields.
Started my medical school journey yesterday in the blueberry fields with an over the phone pre-matriculation health equity journal club 😱 pic.twitter.com/1d9n5YLIoG
— Yana (@giannanino) July 5, 2020
Nino, 24, lost her retail job due to the pandemic and she shared on Twitter that it was difficult to get hired so she returned to working the fields with her family. She grew up seeing her mom working 12-15 hour days during peak season and credits her with instilling in her the importance of a good education, she told the Hispanic Scholarship Fund in 2016. She’s starting med school in August at Stanford and hopes to become a physician “working to ease the healthcare access barrier in undocumented migrant farmer communities,” she told HSF.
One of the barriers her family and other farmworkers face is not being able to go to a clinic during regular hours since they tend to close at 5 p.m. and they usually work until about 7 p.m. The physically grueling job takes its toll with eight to 10 hour days in hot temperatures. It’s the exposure she’s had to this reality that’s motivating her to pursue a career in medicine. The money she received after her tweet is going toward her education, she shared on Twitter, and Nino also encouraged people to donate to Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) which supports the indigenous migrant community in California’s Central Coast.