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."
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.
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.
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.
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.