For Tom Rivers, a reporter for The Daily News in Batavia who covers agriculture and community issues, that question inspired him to find the answer first hand and led him on a journey that took him into those fields.
To discover just how food does get from field to table, Rivers took a leave of absence from his job to join the field hands across New York State.
For one year, he worked the many aspects of agriculture, from the backbreaking work of picking cucumbers, to dairy farms.
As he worked side by side with the farm workers, Rivers developed a new perspective on the physical demands of farm work and a renewed respect for the men and women who work these jobs for days, weeks and years to bring food to our table.
Despite the physical demands of the job, Rivers noted the pride and resilience of the workers as they go about their daily work.
He was engulfed in the camaraderie and spirit as they work dawn to dusk to bring in the crops.
Rivers shared his experiences through first-person series he wrote about farm work in 2008 that won state and national awards and earned him an honorary “golden pitch fork” from the New York State Agricultural Society.
The farm labor series has since been adapted to a book, “Farm Hands: Hard Work and Hard Lessons from Western New York Fields,” which was recently named a “Good Book” by the University at Buffalo and included in the university’s list of 48 books of “unrequired reading” that have inspired inquiry, pleasure, and a renewed engagement with civic life.
Additionally ,Rivers is also a contributor to the American Agriculturist magazine and serves as a guest speaks at many venues about his experiences with farm workers.
“We are happy to welcome Tom to Oswego County and invite the public to stop in to Backstreet Books & Bistro, 201 Oneida Street in Fulton, Tuesday, Aug. 14 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. as Tom will be here to great customers and sign copies of his book,” said Ann Clark of Backstreet Books & Bistro.
Those seeking more information may call 598-5669.