The headline of the LATimes article excerpted & linked below caught my attention because of the “should be.” My first reaction was “Farm work is honorable” but I have to say my mind went to the reality that very few people in my neighborhood would realize that. I’m sure the Los Angeles metro area would be even more so. My hope is there are at least some people in my neighborhood that realize farming is honorable but they may not make the move to farm workers. That’s a mistake.
The same sort of slanted perception is true in lots of other occupations I would think, for instance many think contracting is different from doing construction. Having a brother-in-law who is a contractor and a nephew who does the actual work on other peoples homes or business in the hot sun, I can tell you there is honor among many tradesmen that get overlooked. Most of us have likely seen it with a neighbor And to Mr. Rodriquez’s point, a lot of these jobs are done by immigrant or migrant workers.
This passage from the end of the article also made me think:
Of course, farm labor will never be for everyone. But neither should it be a laughable prospect. It should be honored work, with decent wages and working conditions. Our civilization is possible because someone plants the seeds, prunes the vines and picks and packs the fruit and vegetables that feed the nation.
This takes a silly skit on a humor show too seriously for me. Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report makes his living out of taking things and turning them into humor. His brand of humor may not be for everyone but come on — laughing in this case is not different than the laughter he induces talking about the oil spill in the gulf, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or the pitiful state of our educational system. Let’s realize that the humor he creates (whether you agree or disagree) is usually the sort that leaves you thinking and more often leaves you uncomfortable later.
Farm work should be an honored, palatable job for Americans
If the very thought of working in the fields didn’t make so many Americans laugh, we’d all be better off.
By Douglass Adair
July 10, 2010
Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers of America, appeared on “The Colbert Report” on Thursday to invite Americans of all races and backgrounds to participate in the farm labor that feeds our nation. The UFW, Rodriguez said, only partly tongue in cheek, is ready to welcome folks who want to put an end to the need for foreign nationals to pick our crops.
Colbert volunteered; the audience chortled. But it shouldn’t have been all that funny. The truth is, if the very thought of doing farm work didn’t make so many Americans laugh, we’d all be better off.
via Farm work should be an honored job, with benefits – latimes.com.
Mary Fleming says
Farm work is honorable whether it is done by farmer, farm family member or farmworker. We should all appreciate the hard work they do, especially with the low profit margin and extremely high risk of death. Agriculture is the most deadly industry according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The fatality rate is over 38 farmers and ranchers per hundred thousand workers compared to the average for all industry of just over 3 deaths/100,000
Thanks Mary. Honorable and dangerous work good point.
melissa laurent says
I’m a HUGE fan of Colbert and watched the Rodriguez interview. Course I watch Colbert and Jon Stewart to laugh which is why I tune in to Comedy Central most every evening to watch. Sometimes I hear spoofs on stuff that I missed on the “real news”. Then I Google the topic later for more info. I actually visited the UFW site after seeing him on Colbert last week and did some reading. I think it is an interesting idea that most unemployed folks wouldn’t do farm work if they had the chance. I think they consider it demeaning to pick crops, or do manual labor. I’m thankful for the folks that do this work and I do consider it honorable to have a hand in feeding the nation. I hope Colbert follows through and does go work a day on a farm…he has a HUGE following and it could be good exposure for farms and farm workers.
That would be awesome! I can see him working in the Salinas or San Joaquin valleys! Overalls, cowboy hat…. maybe a piece of grass in his mouth. But my guess is he’d also make the point of how hard the work is by saying he can’t get his hands dirty or he may sweat if her were to do something like they were asking. Could be a great bit of farm outreach!
Oh and another thing, Rodriguez was on the show fully aware of how it worked. He knew the laughs also engage people in the news. Not sure why the LATimes author took the appearance & jokes as anything less.
Mary Fleming says
Please be careful with the piece of grass thing. Our farm workers and farmers are much more intelligent and talented than they get credit for, so the stereotype is kind of offensive to some.
Agree totally Mary. I was just saying in the event Colbert went out there, he would likely embody every stereotype to show how far off they are.