I am ashamed.

I have the privilege of asking
myself “where does my food come from?” and “how was this food produced?” These two
questions are becoming more popular, but there is a more urgent question for
many people, and that is “do I have food to eat today?” I am ashamed because
many of the people who grow, harvest, and process the food that I eat have to
first ask themselves that more imperative question.

Farmworkers are largely excluded
from federal minimum-wage laws. Many individuals toil for excruciatingly long
hours doing backbreaking work often without sanitation facilities in the
fields, all for a sub-poverty salary.

Imagine if this were to change.
Imagine if farmworkers earned not only a minimum wage, but a decent living
wage. Imagine if working on a farm was a celebrated, respected, and
sought-after job.

Food would certainly be more
expensive for someone like myself. I’m okay with that. We should be paying the
full cost of what we eat, and that includes the social and environmental costs. If we can afford to ask ourselves those
first two questions, then we can afford fair food. Besides, we spend a smaller
percentage of our income on food today than ever before.

Our society has devalued
agriculture and detached itself from the root of food. We’re now ingrained in a
food system that only perpetuates the problem. There are no easy fixes, but
fixes absolutely must be made. I am ashamed that I still eat food that supports
our broken system, because alternatives readily exist. I’m ashamed that I too
often opt for the supermarket instead of the farmers’ market. Every time we
purchase fair food, we’re supporting alternative and sustainable systems. Every
purchase is a vote, but I could be doing more. Farmworkers should be included
in minimum wage laws, and I can have a voice in that. By supporting alternative
systems and using our voice for change, we can begin to create a more
environmentally sustainable and socially just world, where all individuals have
access to food and are compensated fairly for their work. I am ashamed, but I
have hope.

Photo: a slide by Emily Drakage shown to the Road Trippers.

By Kristen Dmytryk and Kelly Wilkinson