Every few years, a new study or news segment comes out demonstrating how kids today are so disconnected from their food, they aren’t able to recognise even the most basic fruits and vegetables. As adults, we (hopefully) are much better at identifying various types of produce, but what about what it looks like before it gets to the grocery store? Even if you regularly shop at farmers’ markets and are used to seeing some dirt on your carrots, there are still several steps required to get to that point.
In an attempt to rectify that — and highlight the important and frequently overlooked work of farm workers — United Farm Workers of America have been providing behind-the-scenes look at the ingredients used in some of our favourite dishes all week. Here’s how to watch them and which fruits and veggies made the cut.
How to learn where fruits and vegetables come from
On Sunday, November 22nd, the United Farm Workers tweeted a call for requests: “Tell us your favourite … dish, and we’ll share some of what we know about the work behind the ingredients.” And after inviting people to participate, the dishes started coming in hard and fast.
In response, the UFW sent photos and videos with brief explanations, providing some details about the growing and harvesting process. For example, Brussels sprouts grow on a very tough, woody stem, and there are not one, but two ways to harvest cranberries.
Here are some of the fruits and vegetables highlighted:
There are two methods for harvesting cranberries. Dry harvesting is when machines rake the berries into burlap bags.— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) November 23, 2020
Wet harvesting is when the bogs are flooded— submerged plants are shaken the buoyant berries float and are then collected as shown in this pic from MA. pic.twitter.com/wScznZwuG1
This is a photo of the very first potato harvested from a field in Burlington, WA. (The worker is named Canito.) pic.twitter.com/WIgIOEwK3o— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) November 23, 2020
Brussels sprouts grow on a very tough, woody stem— which means workers need both strength and precision to avoid chopping injury. Here’s a video.pic.twitter.com/im2H9TI0L3— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) November 23, 2020
Green beans are durable enough to be largely harvested by machines, but specialty varieties are more likely to be harvested by hand in a process similar to this. (Video is snap peas from Salinas, CA.) pic.twitter.com/zLnDZwjMF8— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) November 22, 2020
Carrots and celery both have juices that are “photoreactive” and can be dangerous to exposed skin when harvesting. You’ll notice here these workers are careful to cover their skin even though it was over 100 degrees. pic.twitter.com/3LuI9XqFwh— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) November 23, 2020
Apples (with bonus Dolly Parton reference)
Dolly Parton donated $1mil to the scientists who are developing a COVID vaccine. Also, a colleague from TN says it’s just not stack cake if you don’t use apple butter. Here’s a video Josep sent us from the apple harvest in Washington state. pic.twitter.com/9y8wOlsI5w— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) November 23, 2020
Taking even a few minutes to learn more about where our food comes from will make you especially thankful for farm workers.