Bittman address a topic—the welfare of restaurant and food workers—that, personally, I had never thought about before. In addition to discussing the federal minimum wage for tipped workers ($2.13), Bittman provides these sobering facts:
"Around one in eight jobs in the food industry provides a wage greater than 150 percent of the regional poverty level. More than three-quarters of the workers surveyed don’t receive health insurance from their employers. (Fifty-eight percent don’t have it at all; national health care, anyone?) More than half have worked while sick or suffered injuries or health problems on the job, and more than a third reported some form of wage theft in the previous week. Not year: week.And for those of us who care so deeply about sustainability as it relates to our food, water and land, why not a similar concern for people?
"There are societal considerations as well as moral ones: Food workers use public assistance programs (including, ironically, SNAP or food stamps), at higher rates than the rest of the United States work force. And not surprisingly, more than a third of workers use the emergency room for primary care, and 80 percent of them were unable to pay for it. These are tabs we all pick up."
"If you care about sustainability — the capacity to endure — it’s time to expand our definition to include workers. You can’t call food sustainable when it’s produced by people whose capacity to endure is challenged by poverty-level wages."I don't eat out much, but the next time I do I may be inclined to leave a bigger tip.
Click here to read "The 20 Million" in its entirety.