Monday, September 5, 2011
Labor Day Reflections
With my hand deep in the warm innards of a newly-dead rooster, and on this holiday that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers, I thought for a moment about the men and women working in the often unbearable conditions of our meat factories. Think Tyson, Jimmy Dean, a big packet of ground beef that you bought for tacos. When you kill your own chicken, you understand the sad, smelly, and complicated work harvesting meat is. Imagining doing that 8-hours a day (or more), in deplorable working conditions, and with little compensation make me realize how cheaply we get the meat that we eat (in America, daily or every other day).
It is often immigrant or refugee communities that take these types of jobs. When I was working with Sudanese refugees, many were moving to the midwest, towns that had big meat-packing factories, because there was steady and available work.
Thankfully, we are caring more about the way that our meat is raised... free-range, grass-fed, hormone and pesticide free. This no doubt affects the working conditions of the people that harvest and package our meat as well. But let us continue to care about and figure out ways to advocate even more fiercely for the humane working conditions of our meat as well. And collectively, let's say a prayer of thanks and protection for the workers that are doing the hard job of providing us all with the meat we love to eat.
If you'd like a more hands-on experience of how hard it is, I can call you when the next rooster crows...
More information on the meat packing industry.