Agriculture

The Problem With Stock Photos

There’s this important article about low wages in vineyards in the Okanagan: https://www.vancouverisawesome.com/opinion/opinion-mla-ben-stewart-apparently-wants-bc-workers-to-be-paid-as-little-as-possible-4206374?fbclid=IwAR0D42Rq3CmDC5WqDXd3HY7Hog-J_Y8-qxKPEAFopi5OJ4GfN9BDN4VlAiA

This image is attached to it:

Quote: A B.C. vineyard is offering basically the worst compensation legally possible in the province for employees while its owner, Ben Stewart — a B.C. MLA — argues that it is “wrong” for the government to financially support workers who lost work during a pandemic. Carlos Bezz / Getty Images :Unquote

I don’t know where Carlos Bezz took this image, but this isn’t a vineyard in the Okanagan, and no-one here, as far as I know, uses such pretty baskets for picking grapes. In fact, I’m going to bet that even this image was staged, for an image of romantic vineyard life. The criticism in the article is well-aimed. This practice mistreats honest workers, keeps agriculture from innovating and keeps Canadians from developing skills transferable to developing different models of agriculture. We could afford to pay much higher wages in agriculture, ones competitive with other industries, if the wages were accompanied by the kinds of innovation this low-wage practice prevents. Morally, getting a subsidy for “essential” workers supplying food so they can pick wine grapes for, basically, a luxury tourist item, just stinks. And so does using a romanticized image to talk about these very real issues of gentrification and the denial of cultural evolution for agricultural areas. Romanticism is not agriculture’s friend.

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