Fair Food

When you go to the super market to do your weekly shopping do you ever think about how that got there?  Do think that machines do everything? Or that there is still farm workers out in the fields picking the fresh vegetables, fruits, etc. by hand… with their hands?  Here in Florida we grow tomatoes, and they are picked by farm workers (the majority of them are documented and even born here), and they are still bought from the growers by the piece; about 50 cents for each 32 lbs picked.  Does that seem like a lot to you? Does that seem to match the influx of the current market economy in order to live?  Food is a basic necessity, period.  So here are some basic facts:

  •             The price for the tomatoes have not changes since about the 1980’s
  •             A worker MUST pick 2.25 tons of tomatoes in order to make minimum wage in a 10-hour work-day (that is incredible!)
  •             Most farm workers only make  $12, 000/year or less- this is below the poverty line here in the US.
  •             The state of Florida does not have a Labor department (Jeb Bush got rid of that).
  •             Farm workers have been overlooked in policy making, as a result they are not allowed to organize and bargain for better wages, or get paid for overtime.
  •             In some cases they are held to work against their will to work- the state of Florida has been called “ground zero for modern day slavery”

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has been trying to change this situation.  At the moment the CIW is working on having big food companies, super markets to sign the Fair Food agreement.  What’s the Fair Food agreement?  Well, here is an excerpt to help better clear things up:

“The Fair Food Program (FFP) is a unique farmworker- and consumer-driven initiative consisting of a wage increase supported by a price premium paid by corporate purchasers of Florida tomatoes, and a human-rights-based Code of Conduct, applicable throughout the Florida tomato industry. The price premium and the Code of Conduct, which were developed by tomato workers, growers, and corporate buyers in a groundbreaking collaboration, form the foundation for a new model of social accountability.” From the CIW page, http://www.ciw-online.org/FFP_FAQ.html

Right now the CIW is working to have these major buyers pay a penny more per pound of tomatoes.  This isn’t new, this is a long battle that is still in the works, it took FIVE YEARS for Taco Bell and its sister companies to sign.  McDonalds, Burger King, Whole Foods, and just recently Trader Joe’s have all signed the Fair Food agreement.  This is wonderful, but one supermarket giant has yet to sign, Publix.  You know Publix right?  The place where “Shopping is a pleasure”? Yeah, that’s the one.

Publix is a giant private company here in the south.  You can’t go very far without seeing one, one after another.  How could this be?  The same people who come the holidays bring us the commercials filled with family, warmth, good food, and let’s not forget the adorable pilgrim salt and pepper shakers.  Publix has refused to sign the Fair Food agreement sighting irreverent excuses; it is up to each individual Publix, Publix does not directly work with paying the pickers, etc.  It seems like the current CEO of Publix, Mr. Howard Jenkins has completely forgotten the words of Publix founding father George W. Jenkins, “making a profit should never get in the way of doing the right thing.”  The right thing is to treat farm workers with fairness, to do the humane thing, to do the RIGHT thing.  One can only speculate why a company such as Publix with such visionary ideals such as George W. Jekins would turn its back on this. In these uncertain times with the economy slowly coming back, one cannot help but wonder if it is due to profit margins, and or share holders, which I understand they have a responsibility to, but most importantly they have a responsibility to the those who supply and work hard for the growers, and in turn the companies.  Without the workers there is nothing, and they need to understand that.

So here is what can be done, you as a consumer; you can write to your neighborhood Publix, take your business everywhere, print out a letter and give it to the manager of the your Publix letting them know that you stand with the CIW, and every farm worker. Everyone is entitled to fair treatment, and it is up to those who can help defend the rights of those who cannot that make the change that we need to see.

Please read more at the main CIW web page:


When Did You Lose Your Moral?

When did you sell out?  Or better yet, when did you lose your moral sense of ethic, your conscious towards others, nature, and yourself?  I am proud to call myself an anthropologist.  We are the do-gooders, we see to educate and better humankind (and not through a bigger TV or appliance), but through education about ourselves, and our surroundings.  There are four sub-fields in anthropology and each one contributes to another applying it to everyday problems; i.e. diabetes, nutrition, etc.  We have a code of ethics which outlines our responsibilities to both the individuals studied and the scholarship and science.


A small part of our Code of Ethics of the American Anthropological Association:


1. Anthropological researchers have primary ethical obligations to the people, species, and materials they study and to the people with whom they work. These obligations can supersede the goal of seeking new knowledge, and can lead to decisions not to undertake or to discontinue a research project when the primary obligation conflicts with other responsibilities, such as those owed to sponsors or clients. These ethical obligations include:

To avoid harm or wrong, understanding that the development of knowledge can lead to change which may be positive or negative for the people or animals worked with or studied

To respect the well-being of humans and nonhuman primates

To work for the long-term conservation of the archaeological, fossil, and historical records

To consult actively with the affected individuals or group(s), with the goal of establishing a working relationship that can be beneficial to all parties involved

2. Anthropological researchers must do everything in their power to ensure that their research does not harm the safety, dignity, or privacy of the people with whom they work, conduct research, or perform other professional activities. Anthropological researchers working with animals must do everything in their power to ensure that the research does not harm the safety, psychological well-being or survival of the animals or species with which they work.

3. Anthropological researchers must determine in advance whether their hosts/providers of information wish to remain anonymous or receive recognition, and make every effort to comply with those wishes. Researchers must present to their research participants the possible impacts of the choices, and make clear that despite their best efforts, anonymity may be compromised or recognition fail to materialize.

4. Anthropological researchers should obtain in advance the informed consent of persons being studied, providing information, owning or controlling access to material being studied, or otherwise identified as having interests which might be impacted by the research. It is understood that the degree and breadth of informed consent required will depend on the nature of the project and may be affected by requirements of other codes, laws, and ethics of the country or community in which the research is pursued. Further, it is understood that the informed consent process is dynamic and continuous; the process should be initiated in the project design and continue through implementation by way of dialogue and negotiation with those studied. Researchers are responsible for identifying and complying with the various informed consent codes, laws and regulations affecting their projects. Informed consent, for the purposes of this code, does not necessarily imply or require a particular written or signed form. It is the quality of the consent, not the format, that is relevant.

5. Anthropological researchers who have developed close and enduring relationships (i.e., covenantal relationships) with either individual persons providing information or with hosts must adhere to the obligations of openness and informed consent, while carefully and respectfully negotiating the limits of the relationship.

6. While anthropologists may gain personally from their work, they must not exploit individuals, groups, animals, or cultural or biological materials. They should recognize their debt to the societies in which they work and their obligation to reciprocate with people studied in appropriate ways.


I understand that not everyone is an anthropologist, and probably thinks this does not pertain to them.  But here is the point, the whole point of this is to respect one another and avoid any potential harm that could be caused.  Lying, or only telling half the truth to someone with no regard of what they implications of what may happen is irresponsible and to put in layman’s terms, mean.  This goes for any scenario in life, your everyday interactions.


At what point did people lose their respect for another?  Was it for instant gratification?  Was your maliciousness really worth it?  In the study of psychology many horrible studies have been done to try and prove a point; abuse of animals, keeping people in rooms with no watches, I mean how far is far enough? Or is there no end?  Every action has a reaction, and when it comes to the well being of someone else the result is never really the expected result, and underlying damage that can be done insurmountable.


I hope you try and think that everything you do has a consequence and to remember that the other person is a human being like you and is not superfluous.

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