The Disconnect

tomatoland

This remarkable book tells the story of how our disconnect from the sources of our food has led not only to terrible tomatoes, but also to conditions approaching slavery for the workers who farm them. Workers in Florida, not Mexico.

 

 

 

 

Strikes me that one of the crucial aspects of modern industrial society is how we are disconnected from where things come from and how they are made. We don't see how our tomatoes are grown and picked, how our beef is grown and butchered, or how or where all the pretty stuff down at the mall comes from. 

I think this is a problem, for many reasons.

By contrast, in our hunter-gatherer days, we knew where everything in our lives came from. If we picked all the berries, they were gone. If we killed all the game, there was nothing left to hunt. So we moved on. Some tribes learned to go easy on the food sources, some didn't.

But today, how many people actually know anything about where our food, clothing, fuel, and everything else comes from? 

We know most of what Walmart and every other store sells comes from factories in China. We know that food comes mostly from giant agribusiness enterprises. But that's all pretty vague. When we actually see or hear about some of the less savory aspects of our modern comforts — we don't like it. And corporations know we don't like it, so they don't go out of their way to tell us about these things.

Some of the things we don't see:

  • Child labor in overseas factories
  • Fields sprayed with massive amounts of pesticide
  • Field workers picking our food, but living in pesticides and poverty
  • Towns in the rainforest drenched in oil from oil drilling and extraction
  • Cattle overfed on corn, pumped with drugs, then being slaughtered 

I wonder sometimes if that loop can be closed, so that we don't live these false lives of comfort while others live in poverty and suffering. The internet and cell phone cameras have brought some of these things to the surface. But most of us really can't stand to see these things — it takes the fun out of the new gadget to be faced with suffering that produced it.

When I buy gas for my car I feel like I am participating in something pretty nasty. Not even because of global warming, but more because of the photo I saw of a dead rebel from Nigeria, lying in a pool of blood and oil. Literally.

Don't have answers. Just wondering.