Read the Recipe Because Words Matter

Several years back I was in a dinner club. On one occasion I opened my assigned recipe the day of our meal and realized that my dish was supposed to have marinated overnight. Problem! I don’t remember how I resurrected the food item but I certainly learned a lesson. Read the recipe in a timely fashion.

Photo by Kevin Dooley FlickrCC

I’ve been avoiding this topic so as a prelude, let me tell you what I love about my husband. Beyond dark curly hair, a sense of adventure and great fathering ability, is his impressive use of information. He sends me running for the dictionary during meals to decipher a word that he’s using in casual conversation. He names villages in Uzbekistan with ease due to an amazing command of geography. Relevant today, he investigates topics before throwing out a brash opinion. He’s an informed citizen.

Here’s one you’ve heard of – SB 1070.  It’s a piece of legislation recently signed by our governor that has divided our community. In Arizona we are experiencing boycotts and buycotts and protests and marches and mean words and more. Regardless of my opinion or anyone elses, who among us has read it? My husband has. He’s informed. We have a civic obligation to be informed about issues before we cast heavy opinions. And frankly, I believe our casting of opinion still requires a measure of civil discourse.

There are two parts of SB1070 that are most controversial. The first suggests that upon a lawful stop, detention or arrest made by law enforcement, an officer is required to inquire about a person’s legal status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the U. S. illegally. This is controversial because what defines reasonable suspicion is not defined. Although the legislation specifies that an officer cannot consider race, color or national origin in the law’s implementation, the officer is not required to specify what factors led to reasonable suspicion. This leads to concerns that racial profiling will occur.

The second controversial aspect says that if questioned by an officer, a person is presumed to be in the country legally if the person produces one of four specific forms of identification. This part has led to comments that SB1070 requires immigrants to “carry their papers”. Federal immigration law actually requires immigrants with permission to be in the country to carry identification. SB1070 makes it a state law as well.

Regardless of anyone’s position on the bill, the negative attention brought to Arizona is disruptive and deeply saddens me. I’m disappointed in the name calling. Can we really say that someone’s a communist because they believe that certain parts of our economy are dependent upon immigrant workers? Can we call someone a fascist because they believe that we have a need for immigration reform? Can we get together and discuss the various elements of immigration and immigration reform? Can we remember that words matter?

Here’s one example of industry that needs to be considered:

Farm worker photo from NSW archives - flickrCC

The Department of Labor estimates that of 2.5 million farm workers in the U. S., 52 % are undocumented. Many are year-round migrants who follow crops from Salinas to Yuma and back—and who account for up to 40 % of Arizona lettuce harvest. Greens are a delicate crop and have about a 5-day harvest window. Each head of lettuce is hand cut and boxed. Without workers, growers may find themselves short on harvesters, in which case “the crops rot in the field,” says Wendy Fink-Weber, director of communications for the Western Growers Association. Lettuce is Arizona’s highest value crop and 50% of this $1 billion business is labor.

What things should you learn more about in order to become a better informed citizen?

Leave a comment

39 Comments

  1. Tammy – first of all, good for your husband for actually reading the bill – I agree, many of us are going too much by conjecture.

    When this law came up, I was outraged. I live in a suburb of Chicago. And while we have a lot of Mexican-Americans (and other Latin-Americans) here, we also are the world’s second largest Polish city, after Warsaw. I am pretty sure that nowhere close to all the Polish immigrants one sees all around everyday are legal immigrants. Same is true with the Irish immigrants (when Ireland’s economy tanks illegal immigration from Ireland to the US goes up…). I have never once heard of a raid here or anywhere, rounding up Eastern Europeans, or Irish. I’m hard pressed to see Arizona’s law as anything but racist. But, you’re right, I’ve not read it.

    I do believe that immigration is a red herring. This country is changing in huge ways and rather than blame the plutocracy, people look “down” rather than “up” and blame the poor. The cause of the problem is NOT the people picking our lettuce. Nor are they stealing American jobs – there doesn’t seem to be a rush for non-hispanic Caucasians queuing up to do landscaping, bus table or all the other jobs that the illegal immigrants are purpotedly ‘stealing’ from us.

    That said, I agree that the level of discourse in this country has become pitiful – name calling on both sides. I get as upset with friend on the left (I’m a confirmed leftie myself) who personallly denigrate and attack people on the right – that’s my family they’re talking about! Thanks for raising a great topic and I’m glad you commented on my blog so I could find yours – great stuff here!

    Reply
    • One of the issues that I’d love to see discussed in a civil forum is the one you raise here – “Nor are they stealing American jobs – there doesn’t seem to be a rush for non-hispanic Caucasians queuing up to do landscaping, bus table or all the other jobs that the illegal immigrants are purpotedly ‘stealing’ from us”. I’d love to see an economic impact study on what we’d have to pay in order to get Americans to take those jobs and then flow that into the cost of goods and services to see how prices would change. Your family comment made me laugh. Thanks for visiting.

      Reply
      • Ironic that I read this today, on Thursday we returned from a road trip to Bakersfield, CA. We took 101 South from San Francisco which passes through Salinas, Soledad and a number of other California farming communities. I have driven to Bakersfield all of my life and for the first time I really looked at the people harvesting the crops. They were working in the heat with no shade and using Porta Potties. Not to mention the “housing” available to them. I commented to my partner that it is a crime that we allow the exploitation of their hard work and living conditions to artificially suppress what we pay for our food. There is absolutely no American that I know that would do that work, in that heat, in those conditions, for that pay! If I did we would be paying at least $10 a pound for iceberg lettuce because that was what they were harvesting. Regardless of how you feel about SB1070, and I don’t feel good about it, we should all be shame faced for bemoaning the high cost of food without understanding the real cost of bringing it to our table. And don’t even get me started on the oil!!

        An interesting read on sustainable farming is Temra Costa’s book called Farmer Jane. It gets you thinking about the cost and importance of real food.
        Tammy – thanks for bringing up these types of topics and getting (keeping) us thinking.

        Reply
        • Hey, I have that book on my reading list for this summer. I can’t remember any specific statistics but I’ve heard that the % we (Americans) spend on food is one of the smallest percentages in the world.

          Reply
  2. littlehousesouthernprairie

     /  June 5, 2010

    OK, off topic, but that book title reminded me of what I am now sure is the #1 way to host an awesome dinner party:
    Clean the house the day before.
    Cleaning the house and cooking the day of the party = bitter hatred of world.
    It has taken me a long time to learn this lesson. 😉

    Reply
  3. The whole topic of where our food comes from, and what’s built into the cost of it, is a mystery to most people. The mystery extends to “stuff” in general. I just returned from the local hardware store, where I noticed a nylon “pergola” tent with metal frame selling for $49. It actually didn’t look too shoddy–sort of the same thing that vendors use to cover their goods at farmers markets. There’s just no way that cost only $49 to manufacture and ship to my town (probably from China, I’m guessing). The human toil and suffering, and environmental degradation that goes into bringing us our endless supply of cheap stuff would shock most of us. That’s what I need to continue to learn more about!

    Reply
  4. As an Australian, I have to admit that I heard about this legislation via Jon Stewart… is that bad? 😀 I need to learn more about financial planning, cars and what to keep an eye out for when you’re buying one, and why on earth Paris Hilton is still around in popular culture. Surely, surely, we’ve had enough of her (and people like her) by now? 😛

    Reply
  5. You’re absolutely right, Tammy; words matter. We need to not only be informed about these kinds of issues, but also to know that we can discuss this very important and very divisive issue. Surely there is middle ground here, and reasonable people on all sides of the issue who can come up with a solution that falls somewhere in the center of the “let ’em all in” and “kick ’em all out” camps. Thanks for commenting on my blog. It’s good to know there are other fans of reason out there!

    Reply
  6. Awesome post. I wrote one along the same lines in late April:

    “Freedom is both a right and responsibility.

    “To be truly free we must make conscious decisions ~ not act like ostriches sticking our heads in the sand while remaining ignorant of the true impact our actions and choices have on the planet.”

    http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/freedom/

    The problem is that there are too many issues and not enough time. Many get their news in soundbites and regurgitate it back in conversations, spreading lies and half truths.

    My solution: focus on what we feel passionate about and worth with others who feel passionate to find real solutions:

    http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/what-the-world-really-needs/

    Instead, everyone wants to form “opinions” and appear to be “in the know.” The great un-informed hear Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin blaming the BP Oil Spill on environmentalists (!) rather than laying the blame where it belongs ~ on Big Oil and politicians. People absorb that nonsense, because it’s convenient to believe it.

    They don’t want to inconvenience themselves by changing how they live their lives in their McMansions and SUVs.

    We need more people like your husband. We need more people like YOU.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  7. Interesting topic Tammy. Your husband sounds like a great guy too

    Reply
  8. wow, this is so interesting -thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  9. Tammy, this is an important post. In Tennessee, where I live, this bill is being co-opted, to be brought before our state legislature. Many of us reel at how pervasive this reactionary, small mindset-small world view is.

    Yes, the words matter. All the words.

    And the continuing disaster in the Gulf–I understand your feeling–unbearable to write about, although I shall soon.

    Reply
  10. I totally agree. We all must read the words…
    I get so upset with people in our small town repeating the stuff they hear on talk radio or the stuff Rush puts out there…without reading for themselves to see if any of it is close to the truth.
    I am three hours from the Gulf coast and I can’t tell you how many tears I have shed lately at the sight of each oil covered bird…and at the thought of the beach house where we have spent many many family vacations, right there on the beach, dolphins jumping in front of the porch as we sit down to eat breakfast. I have no idea if our dolphins will be there the next time we visit.

    Reply
  11. Joe Pokorski

     /  June 9, 2010

    Yes, we all need to be more informed. Relying on evening news sound bites (or worse – some talk show host) – we’ll never understand the real issues. Listening to an NPR debate on immigration reform made me realize what a complex issue this is. Though, putting aside the extreme opinions on each side will at least allow us to reasonably debate the issues.

    Reply
    • It is incredibly complex. I used lettuce as but one example of an industry that will be impacted. Health care is an industry that is being impacted today. I know that solutions won’t be easy or quick but a reasoned approach can certainly bridge understanding.

      Reply
  12. wonderful post, I am currently living in south texas and there is so much going on right now with the drugs..it’s really heartbreaking, there is so much more that needs to be focused on right now..the gulf, our soliders, great info..

    sweetlife

    Reply
  13. Barbara Miller-Collins

     /  June 9, 2010

    Tammy, wonderful words. You reaffirm the “power of one” to bring change. It is sad that our society has become so knee jerk reactionary and so inclined to treat each other without civility. May we all live more responsibly by taking the time to seek truth before forming opinions.

    Thank you for being a gentle voice of persuasion and reason!

    Barbara

    Reply
  14. Yes, it is always good to inform ourselves. The more you know, the better. It is also important to find other souces of information than the mainstream ones…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    Reply
  15. Michelle Brown

     /  June 11, 2010

    Great post. I teach the youth at my church, and I hear them spout off about the issues. Often it is misguided, and often they are getting it from their parents (whether the distortion of the truth comes from the kids or the parents remains to be seen). However, if we all took time to educate ourselves, what would the media sensationalize?

    Reply
  16. This is a fantastic post, people should use research and knowledge to make their statement more informed and think about whether a view is justified.

    Television news in particular gives few details and is so superficial, and yet people find it hard to read a lot of print and become a bix lax in forming opinions.

    My son just did a project on immigration in Australia too, and they learnt quite a lot about it, we really need to think and read before forming a view.

    Reply
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