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The Daily Reality of a Farmhand

The new American romance with farming inspired by the food movement offers a pathway beyond the alienation of labor. Those who choose to work the land are seen as returning to nature, redeeming nutritious food, and shaping community in the lineage of the frontier settler. Yet there is no empirical correspondence here with the daily reality of a farmhand. The field hands and packing workers describe their work as arduous and dirty. It requires bending and stretching, long hours on one’s feet, repetitive motions, wielding sharp tools, carrying heavy loads, and working in extremes of heat, wet, and cold. The manual work involved in planting, maintaining, and harvesting the fruit and vegetables on local farms is challenging … The average pay is meager by all measures.

— Margaret Gray, Labor and the Locavore, 2013

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