I am as far removed from agricultural production as one can be. Due to my recent appreciation of the centrality of agriculture to our life, I began watching Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Farm Monitor (Twitter & Facebook & YouTube) to learn more. I’ve really enjoyed the show, and I’ve been telling people about it & sharing clips on social media. Nevertheless, recent episodes have promoted industrial/pharmacological agriculture, and I’ve begun to think about the show more critically.Continue reading
I created a Twitter Moment from some of the United Farm Workers‘s status updates with the hashtag #WeFeedYou. As I went through these tweets, I thought about all the products that end up on my table which are mentioned: cilantro, sugar cane, apples, mushrooms, celery, lettuce, chicken, grapes, pomegranates, artichokes and bell peppers. Of course, since I don’t grow any food, everything I eat has been harvested, processed, transported and sold to me by workers. These workers, just like I do, have families. They have health issues. They have hopes for themselves and their children. They smile. And, whatever some know-nothing politicians says, they have skills! Don’t let bosses make all the money off of these workers. Support agricultural labor.
From Farmers brace for workforce shortage under Obama’s executive action on immigration in the Augusta Chronicle of December 28, 2014:
Farmers already scrambling to find workers in California – the nation’s leading grower of fruits, vegetables and nuts – fear an even greater labor shortage under President Obama’s executive action to block about 5 million people from deportation.
Thousands of the state’s farmworkers, who make up a significant portion of those who will benefit, might choose to leave the uncertainty of their seasonal jobs for steady work building homes, cooking in restaurants and cleaning hotel rooms.
This article illustrates the hypocrisy of US immigration policy. Whole industries depend on cheap labor, and we deprive those laborers of a legal status so their employers can exploit them.
Let’s just be honest. If we want cheap fruit & vegetables, $0.50 chicken pieces, clean office buildings, manicured landscaping and construction workers on demand, then we have to have immigrants willing to do these tasks. Now the only question is whether we want them to have enough rights to be able to approach the police when landlords, employers and criminals exploit them.
If you believe in free markets for products, shouldn’t you believe in free markets for labor?
In A Companion to the Ancient Near East, in which I read one article about humans’ environmental impacts, I came across a discussion on pp. 140-1 about an early twentieth century historiography which “partitioned the population of the Near East into nomads, as destroyers of the land, versus sedentary peoples, as keepers of the land. … These authors maintained that the collapse of agriculture during the first centuries of Islamic rule in the Near East could be blamed on a widespread shift to a pastoral economy. Recent works on the problem have shown that such a thing never occurred, and that agriculture actually flourished in some areas, while others went into decline (Kedar 1985).”
Kedar, Benjamin. “The Arab Conquests and Agriculture: A Seventh-Century Apocalypse, Satellite Imagery, and Palynology,” Asian and African Studies 19 (1985), 1-15.