People rely on food as a primary source of nutrients. Being informed on how food is acquired, processed and distributed is important. Doing so is helpful in decision making and improves lifestyle. The food industry is a multifaceted community of various companies that provides food for majority of the global population. Farmers and indigenous groups who depend on their own agricultural proceeds are often left out of the cycle and even relegated as minority. This is the advocacy that the CFA NYC has long been crying for.
Crucial to understanding the farmer’s plight is an appreciation of how foods are produced to our tables.
Before reaching home consumers, food undergoes a process called food production chain. It comprises of the following steps:
- Production – The first stage takes place at farms, where plants are grown and animals are domesticated. For plants, modern science is used to boost growth while animals are fed with supplements to increase body size.
- Processing – It is the part when raw resources are transformed to food. It may include several procedures. After harvesting, some plants only need cleaning, arranging, and cutting into certain sizes. Animal processing is more complicated. First, animals are slaughtered and then are cut into pieces. Sometimes, beef and pork are ground. Processing also include freezing and smoking. This part also involves putting on additional flavor and altering into crafty shapes for nuggets or sausages.
- Distribution – Finished product is then delivered to grocery stores or any other food service store. Consumers usually purchase goods from grocery stores or market. Direct transportations from food processors to restaurants occur occasionally.
The food industry includes several stakeholders, namely: primary producers, distributors, business industry, and consumers. Of all parties involved, the primary producers are often at the margins. They suffer the most injustice the current state of the industry. Farm workers experience cruel working circumstances without being adequately compensated.
Work begins earlier than the sunrise. They have to endure the elements, freezing climate at night as well as the sweltering sun in midday. Sweaters and rain jackets are used for protection from the cold breeze and early morning drizzle. The sun comes up only after two hours of working. Farm work does continue until noontime despite extreme heat released by the sun. Imagine strenuous physical activity for five or more hour’s straight, not to mention changing environmental stress. The only time famers could stop work is their noon break – and this does not last long. Workers barely have time to get enough rest to recover from the morning work and prepare for the remaining work left for the day. This is the work that our brother farmers do day-in and day-out, seven days a week.
During some off-season, the famers find time to entertain themselves by sharing stories. Playing music is a way of relaxation for the farmers. Many farmers are not only good at agriculture, they are skilled musicians too. They play wind, percussion and string instruments. Sometimes, a story comes along a guitar accompaniment or a mouth organ. Others are also skilled at digital piano, and it’s not surprising to find them someone play a modern digital piano like the ones at Digital Piano Judge.
In the protests staged by CFA, I’ve seen a number of farmers perform musical numbers. They have coursed their grievances to music. It’s a perfect way to get the message about the injustice in the food production process.