Slow Food Columbus

Fair Food – Fair Wages

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This week (November 18th-November 26th) is National Supermarket Week of Action, part of the Campaign for Fair Food. As one of the biggest feasts of the year Thanksgiving is an appropriate time for us to remember the workers who produce our food and thank them for their labor by helping to ensure that they receive fair wages and working conditions.

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You may remember that earlier this year we wrote about slavery issues in Florida’s tomato fields but concerns about fair wages for farm workers are not limited to tomato fields. Farmworkers in the US earn approximately $11,000 a year. Their real wages have not risen in over 30 years.

Kroger is one of the grocery chains that is being targeted as part of a campaign to address the sub-poverty wages and human rights abuses faced by farmworkers who harvest their tomatoes. If you shop at Kroger please consider printing off one of the store manager letters and taking it with you when you next shop there. Tell Kroger that you support fair wages and working conditions for farmworkers. The more Kroger (and other companies) hear from consumers that this is a priority the more it creates a demand.

The Fair Food project aims to promote a more socially just food system. Their website includes a multimedia presentation called “Fair Food: Field to Table” which comprises three short videos that give more background and information on the issue and fair food movement. The first video deals with the realities for many farmworkers today, the second shows a model of good practice farm labor conditions and the third focuses on advocates and businesses at the forefront of the movement. I highly recommend watching them.

More information can also be found at the Alliance for Fair Food, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Fair Food Project whose website  has a list of resources and suggestions for farmers, consumers, businesses and teachers. Here are the suggestions for consumers:

  • Buy local, buy direct, and get to know your farmer! When you have a personal relationship with a farmer it is easier to talk about workplace conditions on the farm.
  • Buy Fair Trade labels when possible.  By purchasing fair trade certified products you show support for workers and farmers all over the world and support the growing movement for domestic fair trade in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Join a CSA.  By being a member of a farm, you can get to know the farmer personally, and can meet the workers for yourself.  You can let your farmer know it is important to you for the farm to provide good labor conditions.
  • Talk with other people.  Potluck, share food, and share the stories behind the food: Where did it come from? Who grew it? What are working conditions like? Getting others thinking about these issues is crucial.
  • Get involved in local organizations.  Fair trade could be a great issue for sustainability groups or community groups.  Go to a meeting and see who else is interested in working with you.
  • Get in touch with a local farmworker organization to learn more about the issues in your area. Host an event such as a film screening or art exhibit, and have members of the organization come present beforehand.
  • Educate others.  Take a look at our Be an Educator section to learn more about how you can give a presentation and teach others about the issues.

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