What You Need to Know About Tomatoes

The feature-length documentary film, Food Chains, follows a group of tomato pickers from southern Florida, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), who are most certainly transforming the oppression of Florida agriculture into one of the most progressive industries in America. Their Fair Food Program involves a dozen major retailers, from Wal-Mart to Whole Foods, who have committed to buying Fair Food Tomatoes produced in Florida.

If you buy your tomatoes somewhere other than Fair Food retailers, this is what you might be supporting:

1. Sexual Harassment — it is estimated that 50-80 percent of all female farmworkers are sexually harassed. The CIW’s Fair Food Program is ending this cycle of exploitation by forbidding large retailers to buy from farms with violations.

2. Physical violence — many states don’t have enough labor inspectors to adequately police the tens of thousands of farms in their jurisdiction. Because of the lack of enforcement, verbal and physical abuse can be the norm. The CIW has eliminated that on participating farms in Florida.

3. Modern-day slavery — the CIW played a major role in ending the trafficking and enslavement of agricultural workers in southern Florida, then known as “ground zero for modern-day slavery.” American citizens were as likely to be enslaved as undocumented workers. They found hundreds of workers who had been lured by employers to work on plantations for no pay, some even being shackled at night in chains.

The Fair Food Program prevents participating retailers from buying from farms that have had cases of modern-day slavery. When you buy tomatoes and other fresh produce, look for a retailer that participates in the Fair Food Program. Otherwise, you are most certainly supporting abuse you probably didn’t know still existed in the fields of America.

Learn more at Sanjay Rawal’s Huffington Post article: Three Things You Don’t Know About Your Tomato.


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