Letters: Let's discuss our food-biz 'shame'
RE: KIMBERLY Garrison's article on "Harvest of Shame": I hope your tremendous article isn't just "one and done." I recently moved back to the East Coast after two years in California, where I would see, almost daily, those migrant workers you wrote about, gathering at pickup spots or driving a beat-up old pickup truck with too many people to safely fit in the back (
RE: KIMBERLY Garrison's article on "Harvest of Shame": I hope your tremendous article isn't just "one and done."
I recently moved back to the East Coast after two years in California, where I would see, almost daily, those migrant workers you wrote about, gathering at pickup spots or driving a beat-up old pickup truck with too many people to safely fit in the back (if "safe" could ever be a term for anyone sitting in the back of a pickup truck), looking for work. Not much has changed since 1960.
I was 11 when I saw that show in 1960. I turned to my dad and optimistically said, "What can we do about that?" He replied, "Probably nothing. That's just the way it is."
My dad was working two full-time jobs at the time to support his family of four boys, one getting ready to go to college, and a wife who spent considerable time in a hospital. His resignation, about this, about voting and generally about anything that involved the big companies and government, would infuriate me. Your article resurrected that frustration with our country's resignation and cynicism.
I am hopeful we can find a conversation that inspires people to take on the local, state and federal governments and agribusiness so that farmers and farmworkers can make a decent living.
Unfortunately, any time the prevailing conversation centers around taking more money out of our pockets, we resist. The conversation can't center around that; it must be about a future state that changes our view of how the current state of the farming situation is unsustainable and will very soon cost us more than just money. I don't pretend to know how that conversation could be shaped or delivered.
Could it be centered on food safety and related costs? Look at the recent uptick in food recalls because of things like listeria and salmonella. Wait, did you not know that Trader Joe's recalled raw walnuts because of possible salmonella contamination? I sure didn't. Too many times, unless you purposefully seek information, like on a website such as foodsafety.gov, you might not hear about certain recalls unless they are so big, or so bad, that they cause deaths. (It has to be deaths, because who cares if a few hundred thousand people out of 320 million simply get sick?)
Could it be centered around money lost? Do you know what the total cost is of lost revenue related to food issues (including allergies) for people and businesses? I have no idea. Is it even knowable?
Could it be around social responsibility? Now my cynicism kicks in. Do you really think that companies like Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland or Cargill would consider changing their ways? Which political model is more likely to effect change?
Clearly your article provoked something in me. I hope it does others. Frankly, I was disappointed that E!'s "Fashion Police" being on hiatus made the front page of Philly.com. I think your article should have been on the front page.
There's only one Williams on the ballot
We know that politics is a dirty business, and in the age of Obama, when there are no boundaries in the effort to demean the first African-American president, civility has been thrown out the window along with decency, fairness and respect for family. And in keeping with this decline in civility, you have crossed the boundary of common decency by using Shari Williams to take a gratuitous shot at her husband, state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams.
Shari Williams is not on the ballot. It is 2015, not 1950, when women were viewed as appendages of their husbands and not seen as individuals. Family members of candidates should be viewed as "off-limits," no matter how tempting the press may find their employment. We do not care what the "significant others" of Doug Oliver, Lynn Abraham, James Kenney, Milton Street and Nelson Diaz do for a living and how much those mates earn, unless or until one of them shows up on the ballot for public office.
There are many legitimate issues to be addressed in this mayoral race, and "fracking" may be one of those issues, and as journalists you have a platform to ask each candidate his or her position and to air that position. Dragging the candidate's spouse into this equation is sleazy, gotcha journalism.
On another note, I find it interesting that you made reference to Mrs. Williams being highly paid. I have a multiple-choice question for you: Are you implying that a salary of $112,000 is highly paid (a) for the nature of the work, or (b) for a woman, or (c) for an African-American woman?
There appears to be an obsession by the Philadelphia press corps with African-American professionals earning comparable salaries to their white counterparts.
Peruse the Daily News and Inquirer archives over the past 20 years for any articles about white, male professionals or non-professionals that referenced their salaries as a value judgment and /or a cheeky put-down.
Darisha K. Miller