Tuesday, August 16, 2016
There has been a rise in pick-it-yourself farms and these have given a false perception of what it is to work in agriculture. Real farm work can be brutal and exhausting. There is no easy way to pick strawberries, for example, other than backbending labor that makes standing up agonizing. The pick-it-yourself farms minimize the work and maximize the experience with a false sense of PR. This is an issue close to me. As a teenager, I worked on farms as a summer job. There was no romance to it. It was hot, dirty and painful. I wouldn't have done it had there been other jobs available. There weren't. We forget that migrants do most of the manual labor on farms, and they too find the labor onerous, but they have little choice. I was going back to school in the fall. The migrant would push on to another field and then another and another. They were and are trapped in a cycle of oppression that only unionization can alleviate. That is why I have long had a warm feeling for the United Farm Workers union. Before the UFW and its efforts to dramatize the plight of the migrant, there was no help for the field laborer. Most Americans still think their food comes shrink wrapped or in plastic boxes, and they never think of how it got there.