Food is not always something that you put in your mouth and eat!

While I was delivering eggs yesterday (Friday) a person asked me if I was off on Monday, Labor Day.  I looked at this person like they had grown three heads and said “are you kidding”?  Believe it or not this person wasn’t joking.  I explained, very nicely, that no, on the farm there aren’t any days off!  They shook their head and looked like it was inconceivable to think of no days off.  The conversation was quite humorous to my way of thinking.

That conversation set my mind to whirling (oh no) and I realized that anyone not familiar with the farming world would not know how everything keeps going on holidays.  Thinking back to when I was a beginning farmer I remember getting upset with my husband on Labor Day because he was running the combine to get the corn out of the fields.  I quickly learned that we don’t take days off.

I realize that there are other industries, almost all nowadays, that continue to operate no matter what day it is, however I’m talking about farming.  There are always “chores” to do on the farm and someone has to do them.  Every day is a “Labor Day” and believe me, it’s not a holiday.

Animals still eat and need to be cared for no matter which day it is.  Vegetables and fruits in season need to be harvested the day they are ripe. Deliveries from farm to store still get delivered.  There are a million and one things to do every day!  During my mind whirling, I wondered if people realize this.  I mean no disrespect, however I do think that the food bought in stores is totally disconnected from its origins.  I further believe that our children are clueless from this and just expect it to be there.

I fantasized about taking Monday off and what it would mean to me……  First and foremost, the chickens would have to fend for their selves.  I wouldn’t go near them the entire day.  They might have something to eat and they might not.  If they are thirsty and don’t have water they will have to make do.  No eggs will be collected, washed, packed, or refrigerated no matter what including risk of contamination.  I’ll take the attitude of “yeah well today is a holiday I’ll do it tomorrow”!  I might even take a nap in the afternoon and I’m definitely not cooking any meals or doing any household chores.

Although it was nice while it lasted, my bubble soon burst and the fantasy came to an end!

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the first national governmental recognition of Labor Day was in 1894.  “Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country”.  The earliest history of Labor Day goes further back to 1882.

The tradition and real purpose of Labor Day has been lost.  While I went to the U.S. Department of Labor’s website to research its view and statement about Labor Day, I came away with cynical thoughts….. imagine that!  I won’t go there at this time except to say “practice what you are preaching”.

Most people view Labor Day as a day off coinciding with a weekend therefore having a “long weekend” off.  Does anyone nowadays even know the history or purpose of Labor Day?  Do we teach it to our children or is it viewed by them as an extra day off from school, yippee!

As everyone enjoys their Labor Day picnic, barbecue, or relaxing day at home, the park, or beach think about the food you enjoy and give a thought to the farmer who is working this day to bring it to your plate.  Happy Labor Day!

Comments on: "Labor Day….. what is that?" (2)

  1. Amen to that Carole! Though I grew up a city kid, growing up not far removed from my large, extended farming family has been invaluable in my understanding for, and appreciation of how hard farmers work, 365 days a year. Our huge garden was also very instructive on that front, though the veggies could manage for those days when we had family field trips and the occasional weekend road trip, even if that meant the next day was twice as much work and squirrels left a bit of wreckage in the form of cukes and corn ripe-to-perfection, but no longer fit for human consumption.

    Those early life experiences made me ever-mindful of how hard farmers work and I’m grateful to this day. I’m also grateful we can now find so many wonderful local farmers in our area bringing their products to ‘town’ in the form of local drop sites and at farmers’ markets all over our area. We have to be discriminating at the farmers’ markets, but the good guys are there – just have to know who and what to look for, ask the right questions, and not be swayed by the carnival atmosphere and all the fast-food junk (though even that’s probably somewhat better coming from small producers than the industrial ones.)

    Happy Labor Day. Farmers give literal meaning to the day and it’s the perfect time to reflect on how hard they work. Actually, so is every day, for most of us, at least three times a day.

  2. Debbie said:

    Boy you hit the nail right on the head here! We have 40 acres and run a roadside stand in addition to doing Farmers markets and despite this being a disastrous year for us (which is an entirely DIFFERENT conversation with people) customers do not understand that we get no hilodays. I usually tell them that the plants do not know it’s a holiday and they do not have an “off” switch so we can have a day off. We just add that to the ever growing list of educational things we tell people about farming. Thank you for doing what you do!

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