A Farmer Asks: What's My Value?

A powerful op-ed illustrates the fragility of the food economy

The Lempert Report

If you haven’t read Alma Patty Tzalain’s op-ed in the New York Times "I Harvest Your Food. Why Isn’t My Health ‘Essential’?" please do.

She writes: “We sacrifice so much for a country that doesn’t value our lives.” And at at a time in our world that every newscast makes you emotional and sometimes feel like sobbing, her words will certainly add to those emotions. Here’s a few of the words she put to paper:

“I am one of the thousands of farm workers across the country making sure there is still food to put on your tables. Since I came to New York from Guatemala 11 years ago, I have cleaned cabbage in a packing shed, milked cows on dairy farms, trimmed apple trees in orchards and wrapped and pruned tomatoes in a greenhouse.

If I get sick with COVID-19, I’m afraid of what it will mean for my children, my companeros (companions) and my community. But unlike many other workers in the United States, my workplace has not shut down. Farmworkers are considered essential, and yet we are left out of government support.” 

Alma has a lot more to say in her op-ed, I’ve just highlighted certain parts, and it should be mandatory for every grocery employee—from stock boy to CEO—to read it. It’s one of the building blocks that will fix our fragile food system.


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