Summer Labors

Has anybody noticed that it’s hot outside?  I don’t know about you but it’s tough to get things done outside in this kind of weather.  This is a real challenge on a vegetable farm at this time of year because lots of heavy crops are coming due.  I find myself on any given day of the week lugging 50 lb crates in 90+ degree heat.  It’s tough work, but it’s also rewarding.  I get the pleasure of creating a tangible product, which is often not the case today.  Many of us have jobs with titles like “project manager” or “process engineer” where our work consists of moving pixels on a computer screen, attending meetings, and talking to people on a phone.  My dayjob is like that, and, although it’s good and rewarding in it’s own way, there’s no end product you can see, feel, or taste.  
So, as we approach Labor Day, I typically reflect on labor history since I was raised in a Union family and I work in a traditional industry with lots of heritage and labor issues.  Being part of the farmer class and being at the state fair last weekend, I feel real kinsmanship with my fellow growers.  Although there are different camps (dairy people, commodity production, organic, veggie growers), we are all in the same boat in my mind since we all care for the land and generally have the same hard-working lifestyle.  Still, we’re not the ones who are really deserving of attention on this labor day – this isn’t our day.  As one who toils in heat and cold spring rains, I know what it takes to bring in a crop, but I also reap any rewards which come from that crop.  Those who are the overlooked people in our food system are agricultural workers and they deserve more than they get.  Workers in the tomato fields of Florida  (http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2011/04/21/your-tomato-possible-ties-to-slavery/) receive about 2 cents a pound for the tomatoes you and I eat on a Taco Bell burrito.  But they are not the only ones…there are millions who work along the food supply chain in this country who receive low wages, few benefits, and the threat of deportation in return for their long hours of hard labor.  Some would argue that this is the American way and people will work their way up in time.  Maybe I’m sympathetic since my grandfather worked three jobs as an agricultural worker his whole life, but I think folks need a better shake through unionization just like past immigrants did to find dignity in their own work lives.   
So, as we approach Labor Day, let us at least put a face to the workers behind our food.  And, if you’re so inspired, take a step to help make change for a group of people in this country who need some.  

In the box:

‘Sarah’s Choice’ Canteloupe
A Dozen Corn 
A Big Onion
A Couple Cucumbers
A Couple Yellow Zucchini
A Bunch of Beets 
A Little Basil 
A Big Slicing Tomato 
Some Yellow ‘Taxi’ Variety 

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