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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

hands that harvested your food


"Strawberries are too delicate to be picked by machine. The perfectly ripe ones bruise even at too heavy a human touch. Every strawberry you have ever eaten has been picked by calloused human hands. Every piece of toast with jelly represents someone's knees, someone's aching backs and hips, someone with a bandanna on her wrist to wipe away the sweat."


Alison Luterman, quoted in "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry," by Jack Kornfield

23 comments:

mystic rose said...

indeed.. that quote just fills one.

the pic is lovely! stunning red.

Raw Kale said...

Yes, this summer I was in California during Strawberry harvest. The fields were full of Mexican immigrants, bent over. And right beside them, a billboard with a picture of a white man driving an old tractor and his two blonde children picking strawberries by his side.

What purpose does this billboard serve? The Mexicans are right there. We know there aren't any blonde kids picking our food- that would violate child labor laws. The same thing on our milk cartons, though... dancing cows...

What's in the jar? Cream? You sure know how to make the simplest pleasures in life extremely appetizing! This would make an excellent billboard- nothing deceiving, just pure and simple.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Mystic Rose.

Ruth said...

RK, as you've been discussing at uncle rauf's blog, it's marketing. Perhaps the idea is that strawberries will taste better if there is no thought of the problems that reside in them, the pain and the struggle.

I have to tell you, this reminds me of what happened yesterday at MSU. BTW, my two best friends in grade school growing up were Rickie and Bobbie Rodriguez. Their parents were migrant workers, but they stayed permanently. Yesterday, I was at a big advisers meeting in the MSU Board Room, fancy dan and all that. The Counseling Center was presenting on student mental health, what our responsibilities are and stuff (responding after Virginia Tech). The whole counseling staff introduced themselves. The first was a man named Ramiro Gonzales, he's worked here for 30 years, and he first came as a migrant worker. His brother Raul also works on the counseling staff. Both are social workers who help with our new migrant student population, as well as with any students. They both still have very thick accents. I was beaming.

Oh dear, now you've got me started.

I still love uncle rauf's post about thank you farmers. And I still like the idea of saying grace before eating, consciously thanking every person who helped bring this food to me.

Oh, I took this photo in Paris last May when I was there alone for a week. I was so geeky, I was taking pictures of my food. RK, let me tell you about the yogurt in France, what's in that little jar. The yogurt section is the largest in the store. The yogurt is so divine I almost hate to eat what we buy here in the US, with all the gelatin.

Ruth said...

RK, forgive me, you've probably eaten yogurt in France, and many other places besides. You've been to more countries than I, I think.

Anonymous said...

I concure. French yogurt is heavenly. what about the delicious greek yogurt that is becoming more available in the states, especially in natural food stores?

Ruth said...

Yes, Anon., Greek yogurt is very good too. The yogurt in Istanbul was great, probably similar to Greek. I've been Greek type at Trader Joe's, though I don't get down there very often.

We have also made our own before, way back when our kids were babies. It's not bad, although the starter has to be very good. You get more of what you start with, obviously.

Britt-Arnhild said...

I have never though of it in that way before.
Now I will enjoy strawberries even more.

Ruth said...

Britt-arnhild, I hadn't thought of it that way either. It's not too late for us.

mystic rose said...

ruth,
joining your discussion about food, :)
I loved that post of rauf's too.. and tho I havent tasted yoghurt from France(would love to go there some time) I have tasted yoghurt9and Greek food) in Greece..its heavenly. tho the fat content was unimaginably high..and it tasted as though I was eating pure cream.. the taste itself was perfect. We use buffalo milk in south India as it is easier to digest, but yoghurt in India tastes wonderful too..

Rauf said...

Ruth, i don't know if strawberries are a luxury, i don't get to eat them often, or they don't attract my sister who does all the food shopping. i don't know if India is too hot for strawberries, but i have seen well packed strawberries on the shelves of some famous malls i seldom visit. Honestly i don't remember when i ate strawberries last. Or perhaps we have such a wide variety of seasonal fruits that strawberries lose the importance, though very attractive. i have seen them sold in open markets in cooler places like OOTY in South India. i remember you posting this picture in PD in red theme.
Thankfully human hands are involved in most of our harvesting.
But machines have been introduced now, resulting in unemplyment which we have already discussed. Fruits are generally plucked by hand. Hope no one emplyes a machine to do that. That would be a disaster.
i was touched by this quote Ruth,

"Every piece of toast with jelly represents someone's knees, someone's aching backs and hips, someone with a bandanna on her wrist to wipe away the sweat."

This is life in India. each drop of sweat is as precious as a pearl.

Ruth said...

Mystic Rose, yes, that yogurt is high in fat. And you know what, I just don't care. :)

Ruth said...

rauf, "This is life in India. each drop of sweat is as precious as a pearl."

Yes.

DrowseyMonkey said...

Thanks for this beautiful picture and the memory it creates. Every year my mom and I would go strawberry picking...we'd spend hours picking berries and would have a lot of fun.

When we got home it would be strawberry shortcake for a treat, then Mom would spend the next couple of days making jam - which was the best jam ever! I especially loved her strawberry & rhubarb jam...tart & sweet, yum.

My mother is now unfortunately living her days fairly quietly in a nursing home, she suffers from alzheimers. That's why for me the memories are so important. Bitter sweet for sure, but more sweet - much like her jam.

Raw Kale said...

No, I never had yogurt abroad- well, in Mexico, but it's just like here in the USA but watered down and liquidy.

So, I was trying to understand what was happening there at MSU. I felt like you were just on the verge of saying something about Ramiro and Raul related to the marketing, n'est pas?

Ruth said...

Hehe, no RK, just my weak mind going on a tangient. You just reminded me of the thrill I'd had knowing two migrant workers had done so well, and that was before there was a program focused on getting them post-secondary education.

lesleyanne said...

i looooove european yogurt, you seriously can't get much better than that. they import something into the US called Fage...Greek yogurt. i think we've talked about this. it's so good and maybe close to this unbelievable French yogurt?

those strawberries look perfect. do you have any wild strawberries on your property?

Aaarti said...

Woww, i love the pic.. and i love strawberries.. i do buy em when they are available.. either eat them as they are or make smoothies and savor them..

but dint know they were so delicate... as Rauf said every drop of sweat is precious indeed

:)am enjoying ur blog immensely...:) and i feel like having yogurt now.. :D

Ruth said...

Les, the Greek yogurt is yummy, a lot like Turkish. But I think the French is creamier, just very very smooth.

Nope, no wild strawberries that we've found yet. Just every other kind of berry imaginable.

Ruth said...

Hello, Aaarti, it's so nice to see you here, after seeing you over at rauf's! Strawberries are special, I don't buy them all the time. And fresh picked are amazing. Oh, there's nothing yummier than a strawberry-banana smoothie if you ask me.

Thanks a bunch for coming by!

Ruth said...

Forgive me, Drowsey, I missed your comment there. A precious one too. The memories with your mom won't go away, even now while her life is changing so much. What a treasure.

My mom also had Alzheimer's, a very difficult thing for family members. I hope your mom will not suffer long. Hang in there. It's so so hard.

Raw Kale said...

Oh, I see- you really sucked me into it! I wanted to know all about them!

Ruth said...

RK, you know, you give me a mind to go interview them for my blog!

(Now will I have the nerve.)