This morning, I came across a letter to the editor under the headline, “Fair Lawn resident slams Paterson’s Farmboy supermarket for allegedly selling cage farm eggs”. The author of this letter criticizes the supermarket for selling eggs harvested under cruel conditions, and proudly announces that she will not buy eggs from them unless they can keep up with the likes of Whole Foods and Fairway Market. Unfortunately, many Patersonians do not have the luxury to pick and choose their supermarkets as she does. The author of this letter forgets her privilege.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the average Fair Lawn resident earned $41,400 per capita in 2014 (the most recent data available). By contrast, the average Patersonian earned $16,259. With a per capita earning that more than doubles that of a Patersonian, a Fair Lawn resident naturally affords luxuries that Patersonians do not. My own family shops from local bodegas because we often run short on time and money. We do not have the means to drive to the nearest Whole Foods and buy completely cruelty free foods. We worry about having enough to pay rent, we worry about having enough gas money, we worry about paying off student loans.
Of course, we worry about our diet as well, but we do not have the luxury of worrying about the labels on our eggs. It is difficult enough to regularly provide well-rounded meals to a family on a low income in the first place, regardless of whether or not those meals are fully organic, farm fresh or whatever the labels are that other families get to worry about. So when a supermarket opens near our home, we accept what we are given. We do not complain, because we do not have the luxury to complain. The Farmboy supermarket may not be perfect, but it offers better prices than where my family previously purchased foods, and that is honestly a blessing.
The author of this morning’s letter clearly does not need to think about the kinds of things that the average Patersonian does. She comes from a place of privilege and has apparently become upset that her surrounding towns do not meet her standard of luxury. I ask her and the other members of a more privileged society to consider those who do not get to live the lives they do. Things are not always perfect, but there are people who depend on those imperfections to get by.