Sunday, December 12, 2010

July 30th, 2010 – Cold Meal and Me


July 30th, 2010 – Cold Meal and Me
If there is someone important in farming and for me, it’s the “cold meal” professionals.
“Cold meal” is rural worker that leaves in the town and works in exchange for the lowest wage available, in a system of daily pay. They formerly lived on farms and moved to town in search for better life style. As most of them were illiterate with no other trainings, they found no jobs and had to go back to work on the farms. Before, they had a house and the land to work on, some animals, but following a massive city migration movement starting in the 70’s, they moved into shanty towns and many of them still live in worse condition than ever before. But they didn’t come back to leave on the farm. They rather work at their will, with no job contract, and without any kind of benefits provided by the paternal labor laws in Brazil. The fun of living among thousand people, forming their own community and culture, the attractiveness of consumerism, and total lack of interest of their children for farming finally destroyed the already empoverished population. But most “cold meals” now are older folks, women, or men with some type of handicapp that can range from light mental problem, some illness, incapability to adapt to work in organized big sugar cane industry, rather in the field or in the processing plant. What was left to work on small farms is, unfortunatelly, men and women without full ability to work at modern job market. On the other side, small farmers are empoverished and uncapable of hiring legally and paying good wages. The social duties are heavy even for hiring a house helper such as elderly care person or a domestic worker. Small farmers, themselves, moved to towns and some that still lives off their land, drive every day to their property. I don’t have to tell that my father (and maybe me) is one of the in a way-to-extiction people that want to work on the land and live there. Many of my neighbors may still live on the farm, but have depend on an income that flows from the urban areas. Men and women full of knowledge and wisdom work as housecleaners, truck drivers, or salesperson for local stores. Many families depend on the meager retirement money to continue living on the farms. I can’t fully express my sorrow to see all the old wisdom to vanish. Many of my neighbors still bake their handknead breads on a wood fired oven, raise range free chickens, make soaps, but the new generation is not interested in such a life style. I must be one of the youngest one to be interested in these things, even though, it’s part of “back to basics” type of “movement”. I am acquiring all the farm skills now. So far, I am the only one around here to be interested in rescuing such culture.
I feel like I found out a great party but I arrived at the end of it when people are going home stumbling drunk. And those drunken ones that can’t make it home, come back to the party just as “cold meals” do with farm work.

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