Transitioning from L.A. Times reporter to fruit picker

Hector Becerra set his reporting notebook aside, laced up his boots and strode out into the strawberry fields of Santa Maria, Calif. to see firsthand what it was like to be a fieldworker.

About an hour into the picking, my upper and lower back were beginning to tighten and my legs began to burn a little from the stooping.

As the other workers pulled ahead, Becerra gained a new appreciation for their daily struggle, and for the little things about the agricultural assembly line that often go unnoticed when you’re browsing through the aisles.

You might think strawberries are carefully sorted — possibly by a machine — into the clamshells you buy at the supermarket after being washed at some facility. They’re not. The strawberries are picked by fieldworkers and placed directly into those containers.

Read his compelling account in our latest Column One feature.

Photos: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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