We Are Connected By What We Eat
[Editors' note: Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. He recently participated in an action with the Coalition of Immakolee Workers to ask the Publix grocery store to support labor protections for field workers. Below is his account.]
We are connected by what we eat -- to the farmers who grow our food, the harvesters who pick it, the transporters who bring it to market, the grocers who present it, and the cooks who prepare it.
Next time you eat a tomato, imagine the people who actually picked that tomato out in the hot sun. They would have to get up early, get out into the fields, and they would have to pick a big bucket [of tomatoes]. And then they’d hoist it up on their shoulder, and they’d have to carry it out into a truck. They’ll make 50 cents for picking all those tomatoes and hauling it out into that truck. They’ll do it again and again throughout the course of the day.
On Friday, August 5, I joined some advocates from the Coalition of Immakolee Workers and prayed in the grocery aisle of a Publix grocery store. After we prayed in the Publix, we went out into the parking lot and we all took turns seeing what it feels like to hoist one of those bucket full of tomatoes. We got a feel for what the guys who do the job every day actually have to do. And by the way, that bucket that we filled with our tomatoes? We found out that [those tomatoes] cost more than $79, and the guys who pick it only get 50 cents for what we pay Publix $79.
Then we went to a church nearby, and there we did some praying and talking. We want to do all we can to encourage fair trade in tomatoes, just as we encouraged fair trade in coffee.
You know we really are connected by the food we eat, to the farmers that grow it to the harvesters that pick it to the grocers who sell it. If we take those connections seriously, we'll realize we are all human beings, all beloved by God, and we’ll find it easier to do the right thing. We’ll work for justice, and the world will be a little more full of hope.
Read the full text of our prayer and watch video of our action above.
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