Saturday, August 8, 2009

Onions of Wrath

I've gained a newfound respect for the onions I discard from the endless number of over processed and under priced meals that fuel life on the road. From Portland, Oregon to Providence, Rhode Island I have sent unwanted onion slices flying out of sunroofs, into trash cans and bouncing off walls of hotel rooms I'll never have to clean.
In rural Ohio I came across a community of migrant workers and surveyed the modest shacks they lived in. These are easily the most basic of housing units I've encountered in over 2 years of traveling. Just enough room for a cot, a bedside table, and a chair. The lucky ones have a shower and public restroom to share, others have a outhouse and water from a hose. Hanging out to dry are the uncomfortable looking yellow protective suits to keep the pesticides from getting into the workers skin.
The farm grew a variety of vegetables and relied heavily on a combination of manual labor and aging red trucks. It's humbling to see the lengths people will go to have a unforgiving and dirty job. The farm went on for miles, retired school buses shuttled hundreds of workers and the basic hand tools they were using from field to field. As my own unemployment looms in the distance I've found that a look into the lives of these workers makes the last 2.5 years not appear so bad. As rough as the work looked to be, there have been more books written about migrant workers than traveling market research surveyors.
My inner nerd environmental-economist was glad to see this type of farming still done in the United States and done in a environment that actually gets rainfall. Arizona and Southern California drain rivers to farm the desert. My inner human rights activist was more than a little uncomfortable seeing people that live in the modern day equivalent of a slave cabin.

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