Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Plea From The Plantation

For the past 15yrs I've worked in the corrugated box industry. More specifically, as part of the crew of a large conglomeration of machines tied together, and known as a corrugator. Basic concept: run paper through a fluting process, glue it together, and cut to size to provide blanks that are then converted into boxes..It works kinda like this.

And looks kinda like this...
With the exception of the physical demands associated with any mill operation, it ain't that hard. Any Mexican or redneck can do it. (Unless you're a twenty-something white boy who hasn't learned the meaning of work. And that's most of 'em.)
As we are heavily involved in servicing California's produce industry, this just happens to be the busiest time of year for me, with the strawberry harvest in full swing (my plant supplies an obscene percentage of the national market in this niche). Odds are good I had a hand,personally, in that flat of berries you picked up at the market.

The result: Yours truly, (that be me), has been putting in 70-80 hours a week the past month. The dogs are barkin' and the rest of me is dead ass tired as well.

Your duty: Stop buying strawberries, goddammit. My bones are getting too old for this shit.

20 comments:

Kal said...

Strawberries. Ick.

Don't worry, I wouldn't let such things cross my lips.

kr said...

I only buy local, organic strawberries ;). And my kids are all allergic :(. So you are probably insulated from our grocery-purchasing powerhouse, despite the fact that I ADORE strawberries ;).

Kal said...

Oh, I wasn't even going to try local-preference with him...

RW said...

No! Get back to work! Shirker!

Palm boy said...

I hate those little red berries.

Gino said...

kal,kr,palmboy: thank you for your support.

RW: grrrr...

kingdavid said...

Ah stop whining, when you buy your goat farm on Fiji and hire out some local Polynesian girls, you'll forget all about the hard work you're putting in now.

Jade said...

Awww man! The strawberries just went on sale over here though! I have to buy berries at the store, the squirrels eat all the ones that grow in my yard (unless you want to come over and take out your frustrations on the squirrels for me!)

kr said...

C'mon, Jade, you know the local ones are better anyhow, 'cause you can get the tasty heritage-breeds that haven't been bred into pink watery foamboard to improve shippability ... just wait 'til June. Those early-season sale strawberries are all show.

There's this funny commune/condos near me that plants strawberries on the sidewalk edge of their gardens specifically so that people walking by can eat them ... I love Portland. (And no boxes, Gino ;). )

----

Kal, I have to admit the "local" part is mostly for the breeds, in this case. I'll buy Grown in Chile organics without too much guilt ... figuring the intensive herbicide/pesticide exposure being prevented for third-world populations and lands is a reasonable trade off for the more general planetwide jet fuel poisoning/fossil-fuel-driven global warming--which at least we consumers are guaranteed to share in somewhat equally!--while hopefully lifting those folks' economic status by encouraging value-added production (and the concommitant higher skill/education level required) instead of cheapest-practice agriculture. Since a lot of the fair-trade stuff overlaps with the organic movement in third-world countries, it also fits with my general desire to support small farmers and cooperatives ... and it gives foreigners reasons to LIKE Americans, becasue I become an economic opportunity for them rather than a user.

So I mix it up. Sometimes local, sometimes global ... but always organic (or transitional).

I think Gino might be all down with local-source, though ... it's very power-to-the-people, vibrant local economy, conserves the land, stabilizes the food supply (I love when the hippie environmentalists up here try to sell it as a matter of "national security" ... which it totally _is_, but they are just SO unconvincing ... I think it's the dreadlocks that do them in) ...
It does sidestep some economic "efficiencies," but "efficiencies" always seem to line the pockets of the big players while killing the poor. ("Better they should die, and reduce the surplus population," said Scrooge. Except that nowadays he might be at least a mite concerned over losing their potential spending.) The arguments for organics are much more abstract, I think.

Of course, Gino would have significantly less box-demand driving his paychecks, if everyone went local-source.
But Gino, you're planning to move to AZ or something, aren't you? Which might involve a change in your job?

kr said...

Oh, and lest I fire up an Imus-like public outrage, dreadlocks are decidedly NOT race-related here in Portland. Just FYI. And I am an hippie environmentalist--although I've never sported dreads ;).

Gino said...

as long as i dont have to make as many boxes, i dont care where you get them.

me?
i buy very few. i'm picky with produce, and generally prefer to buy less at higher prices from specialty shops/feildside vendors for the sake of quality.

a strawberry is only good for 3 days. then is starts to lose its sugar. by day 4, forget it.

kr said...

Yep: Gino goes for Local Source ;).
Fresh=better :).
Glad to hear California still has strawberries worth eating!

(I forgot the current most popular reason to encourage local source: "reduces dependence on foreign oil." Gah. I haven't been arguing local source as long as I have organics ;).)

Now I'm beginning to suspect you buy organic but just aren't admitting it ... "specialty shops" with "quality produce" around here usually means the natural foods stores ... ;).

Anonymous said...

Ha! I just bought some California strawberries today! lol!

Awful tasting things, but there isn't much for any local produce around here, so we have to make do.

Just think of all the extra money you'll make and QYBA. ;)

Love ya!
Trisha

Jade said...

KR - Yeah the locals are better when they are in season, but I spent 4 years in Santa Cruz and got spoiled by the abundant strawberries and good artichokes down in Watsonville (So Gino, I probably had a ton of your handywork when I lived down there!)

The next town over from me specifically planted fruit trees all along the main drag (a good 2 mile stretch) to encourage people to eat healthy snacks while walking. Pretty much the entire road is lined with apple and pear trees of various kinds, and grape vines along the fences. Then there is my neighbor... she has a plum tree at the end of her driveway and at the end of the summer puts out a sign "Pick our plums... PLEASE!!"

My favorite, though... is the roadside buckets of rainer cherries.

Gino said...

trisha: flip over the box, and email me with what you see(manufacture and location).
i have a hunch...

jade: watsonville, where so much of what i do goes to.

Anonymous said...

It's just a plastic container, Gino. :(

(although all those plastic containers sit in big flats in the store.)

Kal said...

And if you eat locally, you get to appreciate the seasons more; nothing's better than a strawberry in late spring (in New England) after a long, miserable winter.

It's a whole rhythms of life thing.

Jesus, I am turning into a hippy...

kr said...

Jesus was a hippie ;).

Kal said...

Just because he wore sandals doesn't make him a hippy!

The whole love, peace, and harmony crap, yeah, that's hippy talk.

Maybe you're right!

Gino said...

sandals and long hair, talked about personal responsibility, and didnt rely on the govt: sheesh, even I know he was a libertarian.