The Wenatchee World

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Sometimes, the wages can’t rise

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You may not remember, but Washington once sold a lot of canned asparagus. It wasn’t just a boutique industry, selling fancy jars of pickled vegetables to rich locavores. It was a full-blown, mass-producing, global-marketing, profit-making, employing-thousands-of-people industry. Big companies like Seneca Foods and Del Monte had canneries here. Asparagus grew on nearly 30,000 acres of Washington farmland.

Then, it all went wrong. Tastes changed. People wanted fresh, not canned. There was competition, especially from Peru, encouraged to export asparagus instead of cocaine by U.S. drug policy.

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