Why work when we can get Robots?

I was just reading article in the AgWeek yesterday about robots being developed that will pick citrus crops.  The article framed the need for robots in terms of the immigration debate; since California has such a great need for immigrant labor, robots may be their saving grace.

Immigration besides, my main reaction was “Huh, what are WE here for anyway?”  Maybe I’m just a romantic, but we’ll lose more than employment when robots can do all the labor on farm.  There’s something really beautiful and refreshing about caring for the ground and creation with your own two hands.  Sure, it’s tiring work some days, but a person sleeps really well and the work gives me, at least, a deep sense of satisfaction.

Harvest Party last week at Lida Farm

I’m game for appropriate technology (I use technology all the time – this blog a case in point), but we must also consider what’s lost as well.  I think our culture will be poorer with fewer people working in agriculture with their hands.  One point to consider…if such huge fruit and vegetable operations can’t make it in California without so much imported labor, maybe multiple families with less reliance on outside labor should replace them.  I’m guessing we’d all spend a bit more for summer stone fruit and winter citrus in this scenario, but having more families on the ground building businesses is a much better outcome than a single mega-farm with an army of robots.

In this week’s CSA box:
A quart of tomatoes: Green Zebras (yes, they are ripe when green) and standard Celebrity toms.
A Couple Colored Peppers
Carrots
Spaghetti Squash: It’s best to store all winter squash in warm, dry locations.
A Buttercup Squash: Boy, this variety did not pull through well this year – terrible, since this is the top choice for many.
A Yellow Onion
French Breakfast Radishes
Green Onions
Garlic
Salad Mix


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