I love life!

Hi, I am Jo and this is my blog about my life. Here you will find entries on cooking, gardening, food safety and the interesting things happening in my search for an inexpensive and healthy way of living. My home is located in North Florida and I am relearning how to take care of myself at almost 50. This is the deep South so my garden and season may be a bit different than yours. I look forward to seeing what you have to say as time passes. Read on and have a beautiful day!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Turning 44 in Immokalee

This has been an absolutely crazy week! I spent Monday and Tuesday playing catch up from being in Tampa the previous week. Wednesday and Thursday I did re-inspections in Immokalee and Ft. Myers. On Wednesday I also found out that my boss nominated me for a national award ...and I got it. I am still a bit stunned.

Today is my 44th  Birthday and I spent the day doing re-inspections in Immokalee. Sounds crazy but it just seemed right. Seriously, places like where we were today got me a national award and have kept me in bread and butter the last 3 years. Even crazier, I normally do not mind working in tough locations. My boss has trained me well and every one of them can be a challenge. After all almost anyone can inspect a Publix or Sweetbay or a 7-Eleven. How many people get to inspect places that have both turkey vultures and chickens on site at the same time??  And yes, this was a grocery store.    

In my job I see places and a side of America that at times seems like I am in third world country. Not like I am less than an hour from Naples, one of the richest places in Florida. The places are colorful, loud and at times a bit smelly. The people, for the most part, are like most of us only they speak different languages and have not have the benefit of our education system.

I have watched the buses roll in at sunset coughing out sweaty, weary field workers in front of the bodegas while loud accordion music blares from the bars up and down the street. The workers are tired, most likely hungry and covered with the evidence of hours of toiling in the sandy soils of South Florida. Sunrise brings a reverse with the workers somewhat more subdued loading onto the buses to head out to the tomato fields or orange grove or whatever crop happens to be ripe for the picking that day. They are the ones who ensure we have beautiful produce on our grocery shelves when we are to busy to grow our own.

At one of the last training sessions I attended a woman from University of Florida IFAS spoke. One of the stories she told was about the shortage of field workers with all of the laws enacted to stop illegal immigration. The local farmers needed hands to plant the strawberry crop and could not get the usual workers. In an attempt to plant the crop they hired local hourly labor. Most workers did not last 8 hours and many who did last did not return for a second day of work. It is hot, sweaty, backbreaking work. We want the fruits of the labor but do not want to recognize the labor that has produced our food.  

So at the end of my day I drove the hour home. Back to comfort and the world of Publix and 7 -Eleven. I filed my paperwork, checked my Facebook and grabbed a beer. (Gluten free of course.) Rob will be home soon and we will have pizza and relax. I guess for my 44th I got a new perspective on Immokalee and a whole lot of gratitude for the gifts from my family.    

Hugs to all!!!  


  1. Jo, I apologize for not getting onto your blog sooner and for not wishing you a happy birthday. 44, huh? Why you're just a kid. Wish I was 44 again, best years of my life.

    I liked your descriptive narration of the daily grind for people in your area. Yes, I have heard stories of local fruit growers who cannot get their crop in because they can't find enough workers. In our immediate area, it's the roofing contractors who are struggling with this. I guess this only proves that ya can't have your cake and eat it too. And I guess once people have been in the US for more than one generation, they forget what it's like to do physical labor for a living. Too much cake I guess...... Heh. Hugs, Ilene

  2. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!


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