Essay by
  • Philip Ripperger
in response to
Essay by Gaspar Gasparini

Gaspar Gasparini's "I remember" account, written years after his retirement, from the perspective of a long time Seabrook Farms employee, clearly displays one of the most prominent themes of the company's history: an emphasis on technological innovation and the pursuit of profit rather than the "human capital" the company employed in the form of labor. Although the author clearly understands the impact of inputs into the production process, he does not once mention the people. Water was deemed so essential to Seabrook's business venture that it is worth mentioning over all other aspects of the company.

Gaspar's impersonal memory highlights the alienating nature of a large scale agribusiness, and may also be indicative of the highly compartmentalized nature of work at Seabrook more generally. Although the company was fully vertically integrated in respect to the production and distribution of the frozen foods it manufactured and marketed - and was able to move the water to grow the food that filled its cans and packages - the company was not socially integrated to the same degree. White, full-time employees were more likely to be working in positions where they were concerned with machinery and technical operations of the facilities, and often performed labor that made them identify with management. Occasionally they would interact with field and plant workers outside of their jobs, through sports and at other recreational events, but even on these occasions a hierarchy was maintained. Perhaps if upper-level employees like the author had interacted more with laborers, he would have understood that 4,500 Japanese American, Japanese Peruvian, Estonian, and workers from many other ethnicities, consisting of women and men, were as important to production at Seabrook Farms as the 14, admittedly impressive, deep wells strewn across the Seabrook campus.