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On Food and Politics.


This post will surely piss off about 40% of you, if you decide to read it at all. The title alone could be construed as divisive these days, and that's too bad. So here it goes, my dear readers, my latest blog entry. I hope you are with me till the end, it probably won't be very long as most of what I am about to write has been said before, maybe not as eloquently, but it has been said. I want to tread lightly as well, I never want my words to divide, I want them to make you think, I want them to inspire, I want them to make you laugh, but most importantly, to make us realize we have more in common than we have differences.

I have been logging more screen time than normal lately due directly to my recent job hunt. I tool around longer on my cooks/chef/hospitality-type web pages than I normally do as I need to network, and I have found that the more that I network, the more easily a decent job is to come by. I hate networking to be honest, with cooks and chefs the conversations are embarrassingly predictable as they devolve into an annoyingly familiar pissing contest, especially with the younger, less experienced generation, (Here it comes: I am going to sound like an old man... GET OFF MY LAWN!). To be honest, when I was younger, I was the first one at the pissing field and the last to leave, more often than not soaked in the stink of my own inexperience. Now I save my piss, as I have come to see that I don't need to prove anything to anyone. I like to say that I have forgotten more about cooking than you know, and while that might be true, it is a phrase which does not often endear me to the person to whom I say it. Long story short, much to my displeasure, networking is a necessary evil so I try to play nice in the shallow end of the pool with the rest of the Cretins of the Kitchen. I like to think of it as my own personal practice in humility.


Another benefit of spending more time on hospitality sites is that I am spending less time immersed in news (political) sites. Lord knows I could use a break from the 24 hour news cycle. Biden this and Trump that and pandemic blah, blah, blah. It's exhausting. We all need a break from politics. But guess what, politics has seeped into all those pages where I once felt safe. Unfortunately, food and cooking has been intertwined with politics as far back as I can recall. Remember Cesar Chavez? This guy helped Dolores Huerta, who initiated a history-making movement, to inspire 17 million Americans to boycott grapes before the internet was even a thing. For this and many other reasons, the guy is a fucking legend. If you don't remember him, let me drop some knowledge:



https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2020/09/07/labor-day-dolores-huerta-farm-workers/



Food is political because food is human, and at this point in our history, being a human is in one way or another political from the moment a person is conceived. Our very livelihoods are politicized, as the presence of the demonstrators in front of my local Planned Parenthood reminds me on a daily basis.. If I truly believe anything, it is that all humans need and deserve access to fresh, healthy food and water. These aren't political rights or wealthy taxpayer rights, these are human rights. I don't know how anyone can see this differently, and I am waiting for a good explanation as to why the richest country in the world does not have this for all its citizens, or why it isn't a right. But food costs money, therefore our government sees fit to tax it and regulate it. That my dear readers is where everything goes to shit, just as it always has. Remember the Boston Tea Party? Seems like it might be time to send out invitations for another one of those motherfuckers.


Food is political because the majority of our food is planted, grown, raised, harvested, slaughtered, delivered, fabricated, prepped, cooked and served by immigrants and some of them are undocumented. Furthermore, food, or the companies which produce and process a lot of it, are publicly traded and owned, and the people who run those companies must show quarter over quarter profits for their shareholders. In order to do this, corners must be cut, payroll must be kept low, and costs must be minimized, even if it means exploitation and abuse of workers throughout the food chain. Additionally, politicians must be lobbied to get regulations rolled back so that polluting the environment and paying little to no taxes can be legitimized.


The immigrants within the food chain are easy to exploit and even easier still when they are undocumented and have so much to lose via deportation. This, my friends, is a fucking a hot button topic if there ever was one. And it shouldn't be. These amazing, hard working individuals are doing the work no one else wants to do. The idea that they are taking someone else’s job has been planted in the brains of many Americans so that movements like the one which succeeded in a mass boycott of grape eating never happens again. The companies which rely on these workers to be easily exploited want people, (Americans), to believe that they are undeserving of humane treatment, and making us believe that they are stealing jobs from us is a pretty good way to do that.


It's like I told my ex- friend who asked "Why do you hire so many fucking Mexicans as your dishwashers? Most of them are “illegal” you know, why do you hire the first Mexican that walks in the door?" I calmly answered "No, it's a dishwasher job, I hire the first person to walk in the door, and Americans as a rule are too lazy, they don't want to work that hard. That conversation, among others, is why he is an EX-friend. We need to stand together, and uninformed attitudes like this spread like cancer among a workforce, and as we have seen, a society.



One of the most valuable privileges I have enjoyed while working in this industry as long as I have is that I have been fortunate enough to work with some amazing people from all over the world. West African, Latinx, Polish, Bosnian, West Indian, good, hard working people all. The common denominator in all of these people is that they came here to this country, very often overcoming insurmountable obstacles, looking for a better life. You know; Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. They didn't come here to steal jobs, they came here so their kids could hopefully have a better life than they did. The motherfucking American Dream. The same reason my ancestors moved here, and most likely yours; to avoid exploitation, persecution, and often enough, a violent death.


If anyone has a problem with that, it is most likely because the lies we have been told have persuaded us that refugees or immigrants are sub-humans to be feared. . This is the main reason for the divisiveness in this country. Not Obama, not Trump, not Bush, not Clinton. The politicians who are put into positions of power are ultimately just products of our society. We need to spend less energy pointing fingers at the “other” side and focus on addressing what we are producing in our political candidates, whether red or blue, we must admit, neither side is producing anyone of great integrity.


One of the issues is no one of real substance wants to be in politics anymore. Matt Gaetz? Jim Jordan? MTG? And since I don't want to seem partisan; Cory Booker? Chuck Shumer? Nancy Pelosi? None of these people are more than puppets for special interests.


When your best candidate for the highest office in the land is Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, we have some work to do as a nation. We have to start widening the door in order to let more people participate in the democratic process. We need a more diverse pool of people to run this country and we have to stop viewing people with diverse and different socio-economic backgrounds as less than or not good enough, because we are missing out on some exceptional people. Say what you want about AOC, but her background in the hospitality industry makes her more genuine and reflective of the constituency that she represents. In other words, we need less old white guys running the country. We need more construction workers, teachers, health care workers and merchant marines running for office and less lawyers and career politicians. I think both sides of the aisle can agree upon that. Or at least that is my hope.


They have us where they want us, fighting amongst ourselves. We have let them get away with stripping our rights, and deregulating services and social programs from underneath our noses for years. We got complacent, we took our eye off the ball, we might have even had it too easy, some of us. Now nothing gets done, and we sit back, blaming each other. The ones with influence, influence, and get all the breaks while the little guy gets screwed every time.


We need to start doing what is best for all of us. We must demand humane treatment for every single human.


Now, where is my pitchfork?


“The word bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.”

-George Carlin


Until next time,


Josh


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