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Is it Worth It?

August 16th, 2008

It’s interesting to me that we all want to receive fair pay for the things we do, yet we want to buy things as cheaply as possible. We complain that food costs are rising and yet we don’t care that the people harvesting the food can’t afford to buy what they’re harvesting for their families.

I came across a great article on Slow Food Nation about the plight of the farm worker. Here’s a short quote from the article, to read it in full visit Slow Food Nation. The photos with the article are very moving, check it out. You can also see more of his images and more information at: The Farm Worker Project.

Rick Nahmias doesn’t equivocate when he talks about our cultural response to farm workers. “There’s something about our society…we don’t value or respect the people who are harvesting our food,” Nahmias told me over the phone recently from his studio in Los Angeles. “It’s not just that they’re sleeping on uncomfortable beds. These are people sleeping on cardboard mats under overpasses for three months at a go, and that’s so we can buy our grapes for 98 cents a pound. What are those grapes worth if that person has had to do that? I can’t see that. It doesn’t add up for me.”

This is one reason I try to buy a farmer’s markets, where I can talk to the people that grow & harvest the food. I’ll have to look into more fair trade items while shopping.

Are you willing to spend more on food so the farm workers can get better wages?

5 Comments to “Is it Worth It?”
  1. dig this chick on August 17, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Yes! I managed an organic farm for a bit and I can tell you that if every person had to work in a field for 8-10 hours picking potato beetles off of organic tomatoes, they would find $10/pound to be a reasonable price.

    Have you read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Kingsolver? In it she mentions that as a developed nation, the US pays a smaller percentage of our paychecks on food than any other country (the stat is something like that anyway).

    Reply to dig this chick's comment

  2. Susy on August 17, 2008 at 9:34 am

    I haven’t read that book yet, but I have heard a lot about it (I just requested it from the library). Michael Pollan talks about the percentage of our incomes spent on food in The Omnivores Dilemma and In Defense of Food.

    I think once you grow a little of your own food you realize how much work it actually is.

    I buy raw milk from a local farmer that costs me more, but I know I’m supporting the local economy, getting a healthier product, the cows are being treated humanely, and the farmer’s have a pretty good life.

    Reply to Susy's comment

  3. BeccaOH on August 18, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Great quote to get us thinking. We are so geared to want a bargain — something for barely nothing — that we forget who has to “pay” for our greed.

    Blessings on your endeavors.

    Reply to BeccaOH's comment

  4. Susy on August 18, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Who “pays” for it is a great way to say it. It’s a lot like “Grapes of Wrath” if you’ve ever read that book. Things haven’t changed much since then, the people just aren’t Americans anymore so I guess we see them as disposable or not important.

    Reply to Susy's comment

  5. […] school program for lower income families, or get involved in the world-wide peasant movement, or support better working conditions for farm workers. It doesn’t really matter what you do, just do […]

    Reply to Blog Action Day: Fighting Poverty at Chiot’s Run's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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