This has been reported by a lot of outlets and covered from almost every angle already. For those of you not following a long, there has been a report that Whole Foods is phasing out a line of Goat Cheese and Farm raised Tilapia that was made or grown by inmates, with the primary argument that they may be taken advantage of as their rights are limited by the nature of being imprisoned. There are many potential issues here that are not limited too but do include, labor conditions, compensation, free market manipulation and transparency but that is not what strikes me as worth talking about. He is what your farmer thinks is news worthy that this subject elicits:
In prison or not the wages for agricultural products that actually make it to the farmer are not much different!
It is just to be upset for the discrepancy between the price for labor and the cost at the store but be careful about directing those ill wishes at Whole Foods. They just have corporate sense enough to back away from it bad publicity. Most other grocers have worked tirelessly to keep you from having any idea who grows your food, under what working conditions and what they make for a living. So before we crucify Whole Foods, and we probably should dish out some criticism to them, please take into account that our entire food system is based upon taking advantage of the producer and laborer. In this farmers opinion there is nothing to see here and we should all move along. Until we are ready to put our big boy pants on and talk about the real issue behind the actual work a farmer does and why we should value it, I suggest we ignore this completely. The truth probably more likely is you would cry to find out what it takes to make super cheap (including whole foods tilapia), processed and cooked by someone else, conveniently packaged and in your grocery store food. The whole system in it’s entirely is supported by embarrassingly cheap labor and off farm income. This is not really a complaint just an acknowledgement of the way things work around here. This discussion is the exact reason our farm works and runs differently. It is our resistance to this mentality of taking advantage of others that are less fortunate for my convenience sake. Our farm has been perceived as “expensive” by some but those that say we are too expensive typically wish to compare prices apples to apples so to speak but turn a blind eye to the real value and economics of food. They typically only see either the product or their ability to resell it and never ever see community, families, lasting relationships and certainly not justice. It is increasingly more difficult to show craftsmanship and and authentic source to people because the rest of what they consume is skewed from that process and those values. Once in a while a horror of cheap consumerism is brought to light and we collectively gasp and then a short time later go back to the same purchasing patterns that not just enable these bad things but actually create them. Here is a short list: Child slave labor for cheap T shirts , Waring African nations enslaving children to work in precious metal mines to make “smart phones”, physically and sexually abused women in the the meat packing industry, children from migrant workers working long days unpaid in our agricultural fields for cheap produce…..this list can go on and on but in the end we know all this and this knowledge does not change our actions. Why not? This is rhetorical of course you already know the answer but we can’t say it out loud because this truth hurts us really badly. And just a reminder we are only 84 days away from celebrating the best american consumer celebration there is. Sorry if I’m a little on the downer side today, it is not intended to be that way and I hope truly by now you know that every day my family works tirelessly to provide an alternative to the gloomy outlook that I have laid out here. There is hope as long as the family farm exists AND as long as you support them.
“The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.”―John F. Kennedy