**The Giving Table Book Club is currently reading The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan. It's easy to join, simply visit our discussion group over on Goodreads!
When Tracie McMillan picked grapes for a week in California's San Joaquin Valley as research for her book, she made the going rate for some of today's farm workers: $2.88 per hour. After a day's work, she took home a grand total of $26 for 9 hours of labor. Cutting garlic at another farm, she took home $54.40 for 24 hours of work. Minimum wage would have yielded $192.
It's difficult not to consider this while choosing a plastic bin of produce at the grocery store or while driving along California's Interstate 5. With no sick days or safety nets, workers live paycheck to paycheck, in poverty-like conditions. NPR recently reported that most farm workers continue working while sick (which in turns exposes co-workers and consumers to viruses), because they cannot afford to take a day off.
Is accessibility in our local grocery store worth the mental, physical and emotional cost to our nation's farm workers?