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Al Jazeera Op-Ed: How foodies can become champions for workers' rights

"Will the prospect of small price increases sour consumers from making common cause with those who grow and prepare their food? Previous experience suggests otherwise. As food culture has taken hold, it has demonstrated that people are willing to pay more to have their food choices reflect their values. And FCWA advocates say that eaters knowledgeable about the benefits of fresh, sustainably grown food have shown enthusiasm for the principle that those who work most closely with food should be able to afford to eat organic too."


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  1. Good article and I agree. Critics are full of beans. A rising tide lifts all boats . . . .

    Food and politics are so intertwined in my life that it disappoints me it is not discussed more here at CH. Michael Pollan, Robyn O'Brien, Wenonah Hauter, Tom Collicchio, so many "leaders" in the real food movement do speak out, but the silence from thousands of others who could make a difference has been deafening.

    Thanks for posting.

    1. I agree. The living conditions for those here in Florida who pick the oranges, tomatoes, and strawberries are reminiscent of The Grapes of Wrath.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Veggo

        I'm to the point where I'd rather eat job-killing machine-picked canned tomatoes in the winter than nearly-slave picked Florida tomatoes. (And that isn't an exaggeration; there have been convictions on slavery charges.)

      2. Hard to see Aljazeera as a voice for the oppressed masses. I say they should look closely at their own oppressed masses before turning to the US. Is there any arab country not on the brink of revolution?

        Having said that completely agree that migrant pickers are treated terribly.

        6 Replies
        1. re: sal_acid

          The content I have seen on Al Jazeera cable, which made Al Gore a very rich man, has been quite reasonable. So far.

          1. re: Veggo

            You and the other 24 people in the Al-Jazeera audience.

            1. re: Samalicious

              Perhaps more people should be curious about what's going on around them.

              1. re: Veggo

                That's not the point. Nonexistent ratings due to lack of distribution is what I was referring to.

                1. re: Samalicious

                  I agree that Al Jazeera overpaid for a Trojan horse to try to get into the hearts and minds of Americans. Most Americans would rather watch football or Vanna White.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    Folks, this is way far away from anything to do with food, or really with this particular issue. Please let it go.


        2. OT but, Melanie, I want to thank you for bringing things like this to our attention. I've noticed it and appreciate it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: c oliver

            You're welcome. I'll mention that my sharing articles is not a personal endorsement of them. They are opinions and issues that I'm finding interesting at the moment in food news.

          2. A difficult issue with higher wages for farm workers in the US is the ability to compete with equivalent foreign produce where wages are much lower. Foreign produce is required to be identified as such, but when most people have the choice of a toll bridge adjacent to a free bridge, they will take the less costly route.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Veggo

              While most people will opt for the less costly route, there is a small and growing customer base that finds differences that are worth paying more for. With today's trend toward greater demand for "local" food, foreign produce can never be considered entirely "equivalent".

              About four years ago, a representative of Mexican organic vegetable producers told me that the local food movement had clipped three to five percent of his U. S. market share. For a more current example, this Feb 2013 press release highlights that pricier local food in some U. S. regions continues to take share from less costly, large scale producers in California.

              So, I don't think it is far fetched that some consumer movement can be created around social equity issues as well. It need not be the majority of the market, just a critical mass that begins to change its buying behavior. I can't tell you what that percent might be to start to register on producers' radar. But think about the change in use of HFCS in the last five years that was propelled by a minority of consumers who started boycotting those products.