The Florida based Coalition for Immokalee Workers (CIW) has announced plans for another march for the Fair Food Program. In February of 2000 the CIW marched from Ft. Myers to Orlando to call for “dignity, dialogue, & a fair wage” from the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. They won. This spring over a two week period beginning on March 3, 2013 the CIW will march from Ft. Myers to the Lakeland headquarters of Publix Supermarkets. This will be a “March for Rights, Respect,& Fair Food.”
Over the past 13 years the CIW has worked hard for the dignity, safety, rights, and fair wages of field workers. The Fair Food Standards they helped to develop reflect a cooperative effort all along the food chain from buyer, to grower, to the worker in the field. The CIW has been successful in bringing big chain stores like Chipotle, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Taco Bell to the negotiation table. Supermarkets like Publix have been asked to the table, and have so far refused to sign on to the Fair Food Program. Although they carry and support Fair Trade products like coffee & sugar, they claim that fair wages for Florida tomato pickers is between the pickers and the growers, not buyers like Publix. Protests and demonstrations outside Publix all across Florida are aimed at bringing public awareness to the poverty of the worker in the field, and our part in perpetuating this great social injustice. Once you explore the CIW website, I guarantee you will never look at produce the same way again. You may even join the workers & supporters in the 2013 march in March!
If you stumble upon this post & the above links, I ask that you please take some time to re-evaluate your food purchases. Learn about the food you buy & eat & throw away, and ask the important & often difficult questions: Who picked this & have they been paid a fair wage? Has this been harvested or produced with slave labor or child labor? Is buying food out of season really worth the environmental damage caused in shipping it here?
Try not to be overwhelmed by the scope & depth of these issues, just become aware. Once aware, you cannot help but want to exercise your power as a consumer in a more meaningful, responsible, and just way.