THE ECONOMIC PAMPHLETEER: Rethinking the Value of Work


  • John Ikerd University of Missouri, Columbia



Labor, Economics, Human Rights


First paragraphs:

"How can it be that more than a century after muckrakers exposed the deplorable conditions of workers in the food system, that harassment of workers, rapes in the fields, squalid living conditions, pesticide showers, hazardous working conditions, and slave wages continue be the norm?" (Kolodinsky, 2014, p. 198). In reviewing the documentary film Food Chain, Jane Kolodinsky provides this fitting description of the inevitable consequences of the commodification of labor in an unrestrained market economy.

The deplorable working conditions in the food industry have not been corrected because such conditions are inherent in the industrial system of food production. More effective labor unions and ethical choices by consumers might relieve some of the suffering—at least temporarily. However, the well-being of workers in the food industry and elsewhere will not be significantly improved until we rethink the value of work and restrain our economic system accordingly....


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Author Biography

John Ikerd, University of Missouri, Columbia

John Ikerd is professor emeritus of agricultural economics, University of Missouri, Columbia. He was raised on a small farm and received his BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Missouri. He worked in private industry prior to his 30-years academic career at North Carolina State University, Oklahoma State University, University of Georgia, and the University of Missouri. Since retiring in 2000, he spends most of his time writing and speaking on issues of sustainability. Ikerd is author of six books and numerous professional papers, which are accessible at his University of Missouri website and personal website.

John Ikerd



How to Cite

Ikerd, J. (2016). THE ECONOMIC PAMPHLETEER: Rethinking the Value of Work. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 6(2), 5–7.

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