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Links day - stay away from Florida Tomatoes

This is more horrifying than I can bear.

And a shameful follow-up, wherein the Governor seems to lack any real outrage over the issue, and certainly seems unwilling to come out and condemn the perpetrators.

Oh, look: Another reason to avoid eating at Burger King.

I don't think I ever want to eat a Florida tomato ever again. The sad thing is, I'm absolutely willing, without question, to pay more for my tomatoes if it means a living wage for the people who pick my food. If the food becomes too expensive, I'd rather do without than contribute to this.

This is one of the problems with the long-distance food distribution; the lack of knowledge about the origin of the food on your plate leads to indifference about the working conditions of the people that produce and pick it. We are happy about low prices, but what is the actual cost in human rights? Like I said, I'm happy (delighted, even) to pay more for food that doesn't involve human suffering.

I remember in the 1970s, we never bought fruit (grapes) from Chile, to express our opposition to Pinochet. We may not be able to go down there to fix things in a Rambo-esque manner, but we sure as hell can refuse to buy tainted goods. In an increasingly consumer-driven market, the best way we can effect change is with our wallets.

Just say no to blood produce.


( 18 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
Mar. 25th, 2009 04:21 pm (UTC)

It is terribly conflicting, to have grown up in Florida, and to love it with an almost-native's heart. Yet, the people there are animals...

Very troubling.
Mar. 26th, 2009 09:03 am (UTC)
Jenny, is it just tomatoes or is it oranges too, and all other Florida winter produce?
Mar. 25th, 2009 04:26 pm (UTC)
Holy shit. Were that going on in my bailiwick I would damn well make a platform issue out of it. It's worse than disingenuous to act as Florida's gov. is doing. GEEZ.

Though it appears that Burger King is giving the workers the raise that they want: http://www.gourmet.com/foodpolitics/2008/05/politicsoftheplate_05_28_08 Nice that he still used his kid's account to spew idiocy, though. :\

Edited at 2009-03-25 04:30 pm (UTC)
Mar. 25th, 2009 04:39 pm (UTC)
*thinks about the whoppers she's going to miss out on*

You're absolutely right about the distance between food production and consumer being a contributor to these abuses. Another blog I read, Mano Singham's, had a whole week on the evils of non-local food. More transportation costs, more concentration of money into few hands, less oversight on terrible conditions.

Local-source. It's the way forward. I think Mano said it'd be nice if people had to look at a picture of the conditions their meat was raised in before buying it.

I, er, shudder to think.

(Also I like that one article ending "Kids should be careful about what their parents do online." I'm imagining this daughter scowling at her father in outrage!
Mar. 26th, 2009 01:15 am (UTC)
Local-source may help...but it will also require significant migration, as in whole cities shutting down, and/or new infrastructure. Cause what grows in the winter up north is root vegetables, and...um...um...
Mar. 25th, 2009 04:40 pm (UTC)
There are similar issues with eatting the fruits of the California Central Valley
(breadbasket of the world, ya'll). “Agribusiness” can be horrifying in its callous abuse of farm workers – and seems to feel it can do so with impunity because *those* people aren’t a concern for consumers so long as the bottom-line stays low.

This is a driving force behind my efforts to get my garden up, running and productive. I am OK with only eating fruit and veg that is in season. I also tend to only buy produce at local farmers markets - even though it can be a little more pricey - where I know the farmers and their business personally after years of buying from them.
Mar. 26th, 2009 01:42 am (UTC)
Would you believe Californian oranges are often the only ones we can get here... IN AUSTRALIA?

We have difficulty accessing farmer's markets in some parts of the country. The big supermarket chains have bought out a lot of the small producers, and in many places, farming land now grows McMansions or lawn turf.
Mar. 26th, 2009 02:15 am (UTC)
Pardon my language...but "Fucking Consumerism". I can't think of anything that is actually *good* that has come of it, but a long list of damning abuses that can easily be laid at it's feet...
Mar. 25th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
Gah, that is awful. Now I am even happier that even though I live in Maine, I can buy locally grown tomatoes year round thanks to this place.

Other than tomatoes, it is really hard, living this far north, to get vegetables in the winter without buying things that have been shipped from really far away. It's pretty frustrating.

Mar. 25th, 2009 05:12 pm (UTC)
That is so cool! I want one!!!!!
Mar. 25th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
they've been running a really nice piece (as set of them actually) on the weather channel about Sustainable Agriculture -- and it's driven in part by a lady in south*western* Virginia (whose name I can't call to mind) who wrote a book about it.

And I refuse to eat winter tomatoes. They taste like cardboard.
Mar. 25th, 2009 08:02 pm (UTC)
What pisses me off is that there are all SORTS of products being produced under these circumstances, and because they are cheaper people buy them with the excuse "I don't make enough money to boycot (walmart/nike/whatever)". Sure you do, you don't need half of what you buy anyway! Get better products made humanely, save money, salve your conscience, and save the planet by reducing waste!
Mar. 25th, 2009 11:38 pm (UTC)
It's comparatively straightforward to swear off produce grown under appalling conditions. The price / human rights calculation is usually more difficult to parse. When an individual family is trying to get by, adding a few pounds a year to buy fairtrade coffee seems easy, but paying over the odds for chicken or bread in order to achieve marginal changes in living conditions is difficult to advocate.

If I choose to buy locally-grown tomatoes (with the big carbon footprint that European-grown produce has) from British farmers, do the hard-working Tanzanian growers currently paid rather less than a British farmer but no longer able to sell me their produce give up their farms, go into biotech startups and become fabulously wealthy? Do they take up subsistence farming of staples that are much needed locally, earning little foreign exchange but helping reduce debt burdens? Or do they migrate to cities, swelling the ranks of the world's urban poor?

Possibly not.
Mar. 26th, 2009 12:10 am (UTC)
Unfortunately, chocolate is something that needs to be added to this list. Nearly half the world's cocoa is farmed in West Africa, and harvested by children in conditions of slavery. There is Fair Trade chocolate available as well, but it's still pretty hard to come by.

What would be nice is if the profits collected by the fat-cats in the middle of any supply chain could be reduced just a little bit, so that the balance of wealth could be shared. Just a bit. Just enough so that instead of the company CEO buying that 3rd Rolls Royce or holiday home in the Riviera, some farming families might actually have enough to eat.

Greed is spiraling out of control - I thought the 80s were bad, I'm sure it's much worse now.

Mar. 26th, 2009 09:02 am (UTC)
With all the food that is produced it is really trick to figure out which ones to eat. I already buy form whole foods/earth fare because after growing up seeing my dad's cows eat grass being introduced to the concept of feed lots led to horror (no problem with eating them, just want them to have been treated well until they died) That decision had the lucky effect of showing me organic food lowered my pain levels :) Your article has me wondering what else I can do. The thought of looking at a package of cereal or a micorwave meal and trying to figure out what might have involved humans living in horrible conditions is beyond me, even if I could find information on the company's website about where they buy their materials I can't keep up with every news article and frankly I don't WANT to spend that much time just deciding what to eat. I wish I could believe that giving up on tomatoes or chocolate would do the trick. And beyond that, what about the clothes I wear & the other products I buy, furniture, TV, computer? I know somewhere in there many things are produced by people living in if not horrible, not very good conditions, and may be stripped for valulable materials by others. I hate to say it, but I agree with nusbacher in general. There are only so many things we can do. But I do believe that if each of us picks just a few of the things we can do, that in time things will keep getting better & better.

And I hate to ask (because I love my oranges) but are they produced under the same conditions?
Mar. 26th, 2009 01:02 pm (UTC)
agricultural workers
I want to commend you for addressing a concern of which I have been recently pondering.Why do some make millions ruining our economy while those who feed us live at the poverty level? Workers of the world Unite!
Patrick Andrews in Williamsburg!
Mar. 28th, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC)
Yep-I linked this a few days ago. It's one of the many reasons I joined a CSA, and why I shop at Whole Foods even though they are expensive.
Apr. 6th, 2009 03:37 pm (UTC)
I just noticed this post (late!) and I thought I'd chime in, since this is a matter of the heart for me (my stepbrother and sister in law work for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers). Ages ago, Edward R. Murrow filmed a documentary in Immokalee called "Harvest of Shame," when he said:

"This scene is not taking place in the Congo. It has nothing to do with Johannesburg or Cape Town. It is not Nyasaland or Nigeria. This is Florida. These are citizens of the United States, 1960. This is a shape-up for migrant workers. The hawkers are chanting the going piece rate at the various fields. This is the way the humans who harvest the food for the best-fed people in the world get hired. One farmer looked at this and said, 'We used to own our slaves; now we just rent them.'"

50 years on and things haven't improved. Thanks for posting this. And one thing I know Lucas and all the CIW members want. Eat tomatoes--and lots of other winter vegetables. Just make them fair growth ones--and think about where your food comes from.

It's one more reason I am so pleased there is finally a vegetable garden at the White House!
( 18 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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