Bless the Hands: A Reflection on Food
Today, I went to lunch with some friends from work. As we prayed before the meal, the person praying aloud prayed blessings over all the hand that touched our food, from the fields to the kitchens to the tables. In that moment, I felt starkly connected to all of those people.
This was not the first time I have meditated on the source of food. I am a strong supporter of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an organization of often-exploited migrant farmworkers in Florida championing and organizing for their own rights. They are notable for leading Fair Food Campaigns to set up fair food agreements with supermarkets and fast food chains, especially regarding tomatoes. Some friends of mine who are organizers for the CIW explained to me that in the wintertime, almost all the tomatoes one would find in supermarkets could be sourced back to the hands of the farmworkers of Immokalee, Florida. Many of the workers are forced to work in chains for just pennies per hour. Many women workers are raped in the fields. Workers are often forced to work against their will; it is slavery.
This came alive for me a few years ago when I was walking through a Publix supermarket and saw the tomato stand that said, “Fresh Grown Florida Tomatoes.” As I grasped the plump tomato the color of blood, I felt the hands of farmworkers in chains. While I am 854 miles away from those farmworkers, I felt my spirit draw close to theirs. They were feeding me. They are being crushed.
If you pray, remember to pray for those who grew and harvested your food. We often like to pray for the preparers of the food (especially if they are our grandmothers!), but remember the likelihood of the exploitation of the people who grew and harvested your food. As you act, consider donating to the work of the CIW or participate in your local fair food campaign. Further, consider cultivating whatever land you live on to reduce your reliance on supermarket food if you are able.