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Why you should care about minimum wage if you care about food

minimum-wage-poverty-1Minimum wage is a hot topic these days, now that Seattle has increased it to $15 per hour and NY recently increased it to $9 per hour by 2016.   $15 per hour is also being considered in NYC, as legislation was proposed a couple months ago.

Chances are, you’re not a minimum wage worker.  I’m just betting that based on the fact that if you were making minimum wage, you would have 2 or 3 jobs to support yourself, given that the current wage is not a livable wage – so you’d have no time to read blogs or other leisure activities.  And, just because you make more than $16,640 (minimum wage in NY at 40 hours per week, without vacation) doesn’t mean there aren’t a million reasons to care.  Here are a few:

  1. Income inequality is tied to health.  Many studies have been done (and I have references if you’re interested) – but Inequality.org has some great graphics that summarize this notion.
  2. There’s a difference between financial and psychological prosperity.  Once you meet your basic needs (which reduces stress, etc), more money does not necessarily equal more happiness.  Unless you’re using your money for altruistic endeavors.  And you can watch a great film about it, called Happy.
  3. Food laborers and farm workers are two of the lowest paid jobs in America.  The  US Bureau of Labor Stats report on April 1st confirms this year after year.
  4. Pay for tipped workers  (e.g. those in the food industry) is still abysmal, ($5.00/hour in NY).  Some states, like Massachusetts, still pays tipped workers only $2.63 per hour.  This is even worse because people who are sick, and working, are preparing your food.  If you have time, please read Behind the Kitchen Door.
  5. 2013_Jan_15_justifying_min_wage02Lastly, if you care about food, you HAVE to care about minimum wage.  There are so many people involved in getting your food to you.  Even when you’re purchasing it directly from the farmer.  Food is one of the only things we truly cannot live without – so don’t you think the people who are helping you sustain life deserve to have you help them sustain their lives too?!  This is simple, basic human rights.  Raising the minimum wage to just $10.10 could help 5 million people out of poverty.

This year, 38 states are considering minimum wage increases.  If your state is one of them, I encourage you to get involved.  If your state isn’t, maybe you should consider moving.

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