Those of us living in developed countries may find ourselves shades removed from the source of our food. An effective way to bridge this distance from our food sources is to choose organic foods that connect us with fair food practices. Certified organic foods enable us to consider and promote the fair treatment of our soil, water, plants, and animals. However, when we select the organic tomato in our grocery stores, do we consider the humane treatment of the people who pick our tomatoes for us?
Activists at the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in Florida strive to call our attention to the deplorable treatment of farm or migrant workers who are responsible for laboring over our food. As a community-based alliance of Latino, Mayan Indians, and Haitian migrant workers, CIW members work together to advocate for fair wages for all migrant workers. CIW also strives to secure respect from the food industry and from bosses who employ migrant workers. Further CIW championing efforts have included fighting for migrant workers to inhabit better and cheaper housing. Since migrant workers’ rights continue to be violated, CIW advocates for stronger laws and stronger law enforcement for those who violate workers’ rights. CIW ultimately aims to eradicate unjust and unconstitutional treatment of migrant workers through their coalescing efforts.
Along with CIW’s initiatives, those of us who subscribe to an organic lifestyle can actively contribute to the civil and fair treatment of migrant workers. One option is to speak with our local grocers about the practices of the food producers from whom they purchase their products. With this type of inquiry, we can ascertain whether or not the treatment of farm workers is fair and if they are receiving an equitable share of the high profits of organic foods. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are a couple chain stores that have adopted the fair food initiatives for farm workers’ rights.
Another solution is to start looking for the Food Alliance labels on our foods. The Food Alliance is an organization that queries growers about their practices of fertilizer and pesticide use, soil and water conservation, humane treatment of animals, and just and fair treatment of workers. The Food Alliance has created a certification program and official seal that is placed on products approved by its program. A third solution is simply to spread CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food by dropping off a manager’s letter at our local grocery stores to encourage stores to become involved with equitable treatment of farm workers.
As conscious consumers, we are in a fortuitous position to become educated and to educate the world around us about the stratified nature of the food we consume. By the choices we make in our food purchases, we are taking action steps toward the humane treatment of our food, animals, and fellow human beings living on this earth.
*Top image from New Canadians Centre
*Migrant Workers’ image from Center for Social Concerns
*Food Alliance logo from homepage