The agricultural system is one of the most important for the functioning of any state. Although much less attention is paid to the work of this area than, for example, industry, the value of labor there is much higher. Every day, tens of thousands of people work hard to ensure that people can eat without problems. Unfortunately, because of this, work in this system is grossly underestimated. Besides, the system itself works with many violations and shortcomings, which affects the nutrition of the vast majority of the country’s inhabitants. McMillian (2012), in her book, reflects the inner side of this industry, clearly showing the problems and difficulties that workers face daily and draws attention to them. This essay aims to review two parts of this work to analyze and discuss the situation in the industry.
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Growing and caring for plants that make up a large part of our diet is hard, exhausting work. Despite the development of modern technologies, most of the operations related to the care of crops are carried out by humans. Besides, if the primary goal of a farming company is to maximize income, then workers have to rely only on the most primitive tools and their bodies. This is precisely the situation the author of the book faced when arriving at a garlic farm.
All the pieces of equipment she received were a bucket and scissors, which, moreover, she needs to look after herself, lubricating the mechanism and sharpening the blades (McMillian, 2012). This attitude is the first in a series of injustices faced by workers in this area. According to the author, workers are willing to work for meager wages, so investing in any automation does not make sense (McMillian, 2012). Although acting under the scorching sun is harsh, companies do not make it any easier.
Besides, employers often cheat their employees by not paying the money they are entitled to and forging paperwork. Like everyone else, McMillian was paid based on the number of buckets collected, with an income of about $ 16 after an eight-hour day (McMillian, 2012). However, given that the minimum wage is eight dollars, somewhere between the delivery of garlic and the paycheck, there was a substitution of numbers. Accordingly, the final checks indicated that the person worked for only two hours. Thus, most companies openly violate the law, but no one cares about it. As the author herself explains, it is much cheaper to break the law than to follow it (McMillian, 2012). The company has underpaid McMillian about four hundred dollars, but the fine for such misconduct will be about three hundred dollars.
Finally, in addition to appalling working conditions and deceiving wages, workers in this sector are often denied the same rights as any other workplace. After injuring her arm after hard work, McMillian complains to his employer and, surprisingly to everyone else, receives medical attention. Upon hearing of such treatment, ordinary farm workers were shocked. None of them ever turn to an employer for a day off or assistance. Instead, most workers prefer to simply not going to work.
The reason for this behavior is as simple – upon hearing of a complaint, an employer may not hire the person next time (McMillian, 2012). Thus, farmworkers are deprived of even the most ordinary health care rights. However, they must fulfill all the conditions set to provide food for others while receiving only enough money to feed themselves. And even with some means, people often do not have the opportunity to eat healthily.
Finally, the reason for this behavior is the nature of the distribution of food to consumers in America. Naturally, the underlying problem is a lack of jobs and low wages, but there is also a misplaced emphasis on different foods. For example, as the author notes, trying to save money, she returned to her father’s way of looking for coupons (McMillian, 2012). However, all available discounts apply to products that are far from essential – canned food, cookies, popcorn. Simultaneously, there are practically no discounts for essential products sold without a brand. Secondly, despite the demand among people for high-quality and affordable food, its supply is deficient.
Statistics show that American producers can meet only half of the needed number of fruits and vegetables (McMillian, 2012). Finally, even with the actual availability of such products, they are either far away or have an extremely high price tag. Thus, these key features of the food distribution system make it challenging to spread the principles of healthy eating, so crucial to health.
There are several possible remedies for this situation, and increasing wages and the number of jobs is naturally the first to come to mind. However, the author, taking into account this strategy, also proposes more realistic ways of development. McMillian (2012) proposes the introduction of universal discount coupons for essential goods by analogy with branded items. This should make healthy eating more affordable and widespread among even the poor. Besides, the promotion of cooking courses is proposed to teach people how to cook their meals, which is much cheaper and healthier than eating ready-made instant meals (McMillian, 2012). The author puts cooking skills on par with vital skills like reading, as cooking skills are the first step towards a healthy diet and, therefore, a healthy diet.
However, the existing problems in the production and distribution of food are systemic. This means that small measures will not help radically change the situation since a large-scale restructuring of both the economy and people’s consciousness is required. However, the first step can be taken today by introducing and popularizing small measures and drawing attention to the problem.
McMillian, T. (2012). The American way of eating. Scribner.