The season is winding down, and I’m on to my off-season job: Pitango Gelato, a local/sustainable/fair trade gelato, sorbet, and espresso bar in Baltimore. I’m on the opposite side of the “food chain” now– selling a finished product, rather than growing its ingredients. We tell our customers about the local farm where our milk and eggs come from, and the berries from PA that go into our raspberry, strawberry, and rhubarb sorbet flavors.
Here’s an amazing thing about working at a high-end gelato place: you get paid MORE scooping ice cream than you do as an apprentice farmer at most farms. And the work is not nearly as taxing; when it’s pouring outside, you’re warm and cozy with a cappuccino inside, giving out samples of delicious gelato to customers. How can it be that being an apprentice ice cream scooper can be more lucrative than being an apprentice farmer?
I don’t have answers for this, but I invite your thoughts and ideas! I will say that it seems unfair and wrong, that farm labor is so undervalued.
Here’s one awesome thing about Baltimore: the Adopt a Lot program. The city of Baltimore is giving out vacant lots to anybody who will use it with the community in mind– from decorating with murals, to growing a garden! I had a wonderful tour of urban farms and vacant lots with Joe, a representative Power in Dirt, an initiative to green the city and build community. It is SO cool to see sunflowers popping up behind rows of parked cars, tomato plants towering over fences… I’m not quite ready to commit to adopting a lot, but I am keeping it firmly in mind!
More stories of sustainable food from the retail side to come, as well as comments on the future of food within the context of the November election.
Happy Autumnal Equinox!