Thursday, April 29, 2010

How do your veggies go?

How do your veggies go? Do you know?
If you go to your supermarket and buy a head of lettuce, (if it's from the US) chances are it's from CA. There's a lot of whining coming from that section of the country about the new health care bill and how it's going to "negatively" impact their business. Let's look at this "negative" impact for a minute.
First, most of the labor intensive crops, ones that haven't been mechanized, are harvested by a group of workers, largely migrant, largely Latin and largely uninsured. Give us your poor, your hungry, your downtrodden, we need them to pick our strawberries. Most of these workers work for companies that specialize in providing workers to farmers, following a complex timetable of harvest times and working for that company most of the year. That means that it's not the farmer that will have to insure the workers, it's that labor company. But of course they'll pass the expense to the farmer who will pass it on to the consumer.

Now, this is the part that's supposed to be the "negative" impact. The forcing of American consumers to pay closer to the ACTUAL cost of their veggies. Forcing Americans to confront their habits and weigh options honestly. i.e. Do I want to plant, tend and harvest my own strawberries or do I want to pay someone in CA to plant them, pay a worker a FAIR WAGE to pick them and a trucker to haul them to my grocery store? By denying those workers that fair wage and not providing them with basics like health care we were hiding the real costs. Those workers would end up in ER rooms when illness/injury became life threatening instead of the cheaper route of preventative medicine. Those bills were being picked up by tax payers somewhere, and it ain't cheap. The Health Care bill seems like a more equitable way of taking care of those workers. If you want the veggies they pick, you have to bear some of the burden of their fair wage and health insurance.

Grow your own or pay the REAL cost of fruits and veggies shipped halfway across the country. But don't whine about the costs of the choices you make. And for goodness sake, let's not exploit other humans to get cheap mediocre veggies.

1 comment:

Juliana Crespo said...

Amen for that! Americans (not to generalize, but...) don't realize how many poor farmers are out there, working in the hot sun too many long hours for practically next to nothing so that we can have our strawberries and blueberries from across the globe. I agree with you that at the very least, immigrant workers who happen to live in our country should have access to health care.