Protesters Saturday at Ream's supermarket, 2738 S. State, tried to convince shoppers to boycott table grapes grown with pesticides.
"Boycott them grapes," protester Michael Ortega shouted at motorists entering the parking lot. "Boycott those California grapes."Eight protesters from The Utah Grape Boycott Committee stood at the driveways of the store and handed out flyers explaining why consumers should refuse to buy table grapes.
"It's a dual issue," said Ortega. The grapes are grown in California with the help of five pesticides, and the United Farm Workers Union contends the chemicals cause illness and birth defects in migrant farm workers and threaten communities by accumulating in the groundwater.
Ortega said the pesticides are "poisoning the workers and their children and the groundwater," and that migrant children exposed to the chemicals show an "alarming rate of leukemia." The pesticides are used to make table grapes artificially plump, unblemished and more attractive to the consumer, according to a committee flyer, but the chemicals do not wash off.
"We're just trying to get people aware of this, a lot of people don't know," said protester Hector Mota.
A few growers do not use the chemicals, he said, and their grapes are packed in a box with the UFW union black eagle logo. Those grapes are not available in Utah, said Mota.
About every fourth shopper accepted a flyer, and Mota said the demonstrators got a better response last weekend at another store.
Store manager Ken Lund said the demonstrators were not a problem and that it was too soon to tell if the boycott was catching.
"It's hard to analyze until the day is over," he said, but so far the boycott had "no effect whatsoever." People were talking about it, however, and Lund said the shoppers were showing an awareness of the issue. "Some think it's serious and some think it's a joke."