Archive for the ‘migrant workers’ Category

Treat Your Workers Well!

I grew my own home-grown organic salad.

I grew my home-grown organic salad.

This summer I have spent some time with migrant workers downeast during the blueberry harvest.    I am also in the midst of trying to start a workers co-op for farm workers.   So the issues of farm workers are at the front of my mind these days.   When we met with the folks from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers this summer one of them shared this biblical quote with me:

From the book of James Chapter 5

1Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you.

2Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten.

3Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days.

4Listen! The wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.

Then I found this poem:

Cutting stalks at noontime.

Perspiration drips to the earth.

Know you that your bowl of rice

each grain from hardship comes?

~Chang Chan-Pao


At the FDA hearings the other day I couldn’t help but think of this quote:

It would be nice if the Food and Drug Administration stopped issuing warnings about toxic substances and just gave me the names of one or two things still safe to eat.  ~Robert Fuoss



But back in my own garden I remembered of this:

It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.  ~Lewis Grizzard


The message? Grow your own.   Know what you are eating.   Take some responsibility.  And if you need help on your farm treat your workers well.   With dignity, respect, decent wages and working conditions.   Wake up folks.   Producing food is hard work and the people who do it deserve to be paid a living wage whether they are farmers or the farm hands who work for them.




A Penny (a Pound) for Your Thoughts

On March 5th I blogged about the “Fast for Fair Food”.  I lost track of what was going on with the fast until yesterday when I was reminded of this important social protest by a comment that was posted to that essay.   So I went looking to see what had become of the fasters and their supporters.


What I discovered was inspiring.  On Day Six (March 8th) the protesters broke their fast together in a moving ceremony.   It occurred on the anniversary of another, somewhat more famous, fast breaking when Caesar Chavez and Robert Kennedy celebrated together 40 years ago.   Several Kennedys attended this fast breaking including RFK’s widow Ethel.


But the fight continues for the “Penny a Pound”  the workers are asking for and gotten from everyone except the Publix grocery chain.  And even for those growers who have agreed to the price increase it still only covers tomatoes.  Not eggplants,  not lettuce, not cucumbers, nothing except tomatoes.  So there is still work to be done.   Fortunately the Coalition of Immokalee Workers is still out there doing that work.

Fast for Fair Food

Today is day one of the “Fast for Fair Food”.   My thoughts and warm wishes are going out to my friend and colleague Bob St. Peter who is down in Lakeland, Florida  fasting in front of Publix Grocery Store Headquarters.  Publix is the last hold out resisting the CIW’s request for a small increase in the wages paid agricultural workers.  Bob along with 150 other participants in the fast from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. will be outside the Publix headquarters until this issue is resolved.   Here is a good article about the whole thing on the Food for Maine’s Future website Saving Seeds.

Fair Trade in the USA


Farmers in the USA

Today I want to introduce everyone to the “Domestic Fair Trade Association”.  I’m sure everyone is at least vaguely familiar with the “Fair Trade” label  found on coffee, chocolate, tea and other tropical products.  This label assures the buyer that the food was produced in cooperation with the farmers so that they get a fair share of the profits.   Now a group has formed in the United States to protect our own farmers and farm laborers.  Another attempt to support local farmers who are doing it right.

From the DFTA  pamphlet:  “Family and small-scale farmers are under severe pressure from Big Food corporations practicing industrial agriculture and sourcing cheap ingredients from around the world.  Even organic food has become an ‘industry’ that is highly consolidated.  Many farms and farmers have been lost.  There are now fewer farmers in the U.S.  than there are prisoners.”

I hope that as more and more organizations like this pop  up there will be less and less chance for abuse of the organic system ( see my next post) and  more and more awareness among the purchasing public of the need to support our local farmers in every way that we can.

To contact this “new” organization (actually formed in 2005) you can visit