Friday, May 01, 2015

Dean's Faculty Book Reading Group on Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies

These are my notes from the discussion group. Like other book discussions of the group, there were to be two meetings. This first meeting took place on March 25, 2015. The second meeting was the following week, April 1, 2015, which as I have noted elsewhere was "Holy Shit Week, this chronic bronchitis took me out of circulation" week. So you are only getting this set of notes. I did read and write a review of the book (link to the review) with additional reading notes that may be of interest.

  • As a group, we are drawn to read this book for various reasons. 
  • Re: consumers: why do they care more about the land, the food (does it have chemicals, so on?), about the animals than about the actual human laborers? 
  • The author continually reminds us of the systemic violence. He also goes on to show that for migrant workers, this labor is not just an individual choice. 
  • No one in the U.S. speaks of the actual role the U.S. has in forcing the migrants to try and go to the United States. The U.S. basically destroyed their way of life with things like NAFTA. (This is very well explained in the book, and I made a note of it in my review.)
  • The author speaks of the intersection of class and race. 
  • See also the book The American Way of Eating. (On a side note, Hutchins Library at Berea College has this book.)
  • The wrong question to ask is "how do we get food cheaper"? We should be asking how to make food production fair. Yet, we do have to acknowledge, that to many, making it "fair" would mean a price hike they simply cannot afford (many are barely affording food as it is, but that may be a larger question.)
  • See pg. 78 of the book for the passage on "marginalization begets marginalization." 
  • The author's experience is an example of observing his own privilege. He had to balance when he could use his privilege or not. 
  • The possible answer to the question of why Americans disregard immigrants is the American sense of individualism. This is in contrast to much of the world which thinks and acts in terms of community and the common good. This also explains things like Americans resisting universal health care (which pretty much every developed nation has); it is a failure to care and have empathy for others (a.k.a. as the "I've got mine Jack, so fuck you!" attitude). 
  • Note that the organic movement is largely driven by selfishness. These consumers of organic foods do it out of self-interest (i.e. concern over what they put in their bodies), not out of environmental concern let alone concern for the fellow man who actually picks up the food.