August 9, 2015- by Steven E. Greer, MD
A growing movement is making a real impact on migrant farm workers in the South. Fairfood International has gotten large food suppliers, such as Walmart, Whole Foods, and Chipotle, to agree to pay just one penny per pound of tomatoes that they buy from Florida and send that cash directly to the farmers. They also agree to buy only from farms in the program.
This translates into approximately $80 per week per migrant farmer. It has dramatically transformed the farms in the program, and the farmers now have exclusive deals with the best buyers. It is a win-win for everyone.
The program also requires farms to have a zero-tolerance of sexual harassment, and mandate certain working conditions, such as shade and toilets. The working conditions on farms is uniformly deplorable, with common examples of farm bosses beating the workers, and of rape. This should not be tolerated in The United States.
When you go to Whole Foods next, look for this FairFood logo. Also, tell your local Gristedes to participate (fat chance).
CBS news began this effort decades ago. Edward R Murrow first made his documentary series Harvest of Shame in 1960 (as he held a cigarette in his hand on-air).
I grew up in rural Ohio where we white kids worked in the fields, mowed the lawn, and did all sorts of jobs that only migrants seem to be willing to do now. Changing this corporate-sanctioned status quo of tolerated racism is a personal goal of mine (as is eliminating cheap clothing made in Third World sweat shops).
Using cheap labor from the backs of rented slaves from Central America is not only morally wrong, but it is bad for our country.
So, the next time you go to the grocery, try to avoid the green unripe bad produce that came from farms in California and look for the FairFood label (also, try to buy clothes made in the USA).