My least favorite task is cleaning garlic. We all have them, a least favorite part of what we do. Even when we have this task to do to meet that important deadline, we still procrastinate (at least I do).
Literally a hands-on job, we clean each bulb by clipping the roots, removing any excess dirt and peeling any unappealing skin from the outside of the garlic head, all to make the garlic bulb look nice. Cleaning is hard on the hands and fingers. You get blisters on your fingers to the point of nearly bleeding before the end of this task. Even if you wear gloves they get raw. When you’re finished with one bulb there’s only eight to nine thousand more to go. You’re done for today but tomorrow you have more to go. Luckily and eventually you reach the end.
Cleaning garlic requires dedication and sometimes-inner strength to just power through. It reminds me of today’s essential workers, like those that pick our produce in the hot sun 9, 10, 12 hours a day with little rest and little pay, repeat tomorrow, repeat the next, with no end in sight. Unfortunately their present choices are limited but inherently there is nothing wrong with this work and it should be valued properly within our society.
Farming and gardening is physical work, it can wear you down, especially in the heat and humidity of August. If you haven’t done some or haven’t done some lately, try it. You’ll gain or re-gain an appreciation for those essential field workers or for anyone that’s doing a job we all know is tough on the body, mind and paycheck.
We need to pay all people and those long neglected essential workers for the full value of their work. Cheap produce, cheap services or cheap manufactured items by under valuing labor comes with a price to our society. The Covid19 crisis has taught us that we are all only as strong as the weakest among us. Covid19 does not acknowledge your social or economic status. Essential workers are real people that we don’t see or at times acknowledge their value. I choose to farm but I don’t have to. Essential workers do not have a choice. Time has come for us to change and value their work.
Now I’ve procrastinated long enough I have garlic to clean!