Sugar Beets and Migrant Labor

praythroughhistory

220px-276_Beta_vulgaris_L

Beta Vulgaris

1917 to 1919
Labor shortages in the U.S. during World War I and political unrest in Mexico draw many Mexican workers north to the sugar-beet fields of the Red River and Minnesota River valleys. Many return year after year; others move to the Twin Cities to find permanent jobs.*

As a backstory, the sugar beet came to prominence in 18th century Silesia through experiments subsidized by Frederick William III (the King of Prussia) to extract sugar. These findings were furthered by scientists Andreas Marggraf and his star pupil Franz Karl Achard. Their work led to the selection of ‘Weiße Schlesische Zuckerrübe’, meaning white Silesian sugar beet, and boasted about a 6% sugar content.**

The Red River Valley of northwestern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota had perfect conditions for the growing of this specis of beta vulgaris. Mexican migrant workers entered the scene just as local sugar beet growers…

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