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The self righteousness pitfall

Posted 3/2/2009 3:22pm by Shiloh Avery.

frozen rain guage

 Yesterday's rain frozen solid!


Jason and I just had this conversation about the “self righteous pitfall.”  It’s when you work so hard at living a principled life that you can slip into self righteousness.  Keeping that in mind, we work pretty hard at trying to live within our principles without becoming self righteous about it, but come on, slave labor?  Here?  In the U.S. ? Picking tomatoes?  I feel myself slipping.  I had heard about it once on NPR, just a little mention somewhere to tuck into the back of my brain for later perusal.  But this month’s Gourmet has a whole article on the slave labor picking tomatoes in Florida every winter.  They’re pretty careful to mention the “unknowing” farmers, but come on, really?  Slip. 

As if slave farm labor wasn’t enough,  in another NPR article, the lawsuit against a Florida based tomato company that has farms in Brunswick County, NC was mentioned.  It’s a pesticide poisoning lawsuit: several children of the farm workers were born with defects, the worst being born without arms and legs.  Slip.  Um, hold the tomatoes please?

I promise you this: though my employees and I might not be the best paid people in the world, we are willing, happy, and healthy, and so are the veggies we produce!  There was an editorial in this month’s Eating Well written by a woman about to leave a five year career as a farm employee to return to grad school, which makes her grandmother ecstatic.  But the author says of her farm life, “I’ve never done anything more useful in my life.”  I relate.  I spent some time in academia, believing that a life in academia was for me. I figured I’d go to grad school, then work overseas studying music and culture (I wanted to go to school for ethnomusicology-now that’s a mouthful), documenting, studying, writing and whatever else higher educated people do.  I found it terribly interesting, but something was always missing from that: the usefulness.  I don’t mean to say that studying and documenting any number of things in this world isn’t useful, but it didn’t satisfy the usefulness of my hands, my body.  The use of my mind alone left me feeling a little empty.  So I started gardening as a hobby and the fire was lit.  A friend of mine, who is a fisherman, said simply yet sagely, “there’s just something about providing food for people.”  Yes.  There is just something about it.

So as I dug my fingers into that freshly tilled earth to stick in an onion plant, I felt the ground beneath me again as if for the first time.  Yes.  I am willing.  Aching back, sore neck, still I look back over those (not so straight) rows of tiny onion plants, knowing the potent sweet tearful June they will bring and I’m happy.

onion plants in snow

Onion plants in this morning's snow!


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