Whatever you're eating today, stop to think and appreciate the people whose labor brought it to your table: growers, pickers, packers, processors, truckers, loaders, shelf stockers, checkers, cooks and chefs, servers, table setters and bussers, dishwashers, vendors, and every other category that I've overlooked.
With Cesar Chavez recently honored here by the renaming of Durango Street, farmworkers should be top of mind. And with the recent publication of Tomatoland, more people have become aware of the plight of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. CIW, formed in 1993, has fought for increased pay (a whole $.01 per pound, a 50% increase) by organizing against fast food restaurants purchasing tomatoes. Through persistence and networking, they gained enough public awareness and support to achieve their goal with several chains. The working conditions documented in the book reveal much more pervasive problems, including documented cases of slavery and being forced to work while fields are sprayed with pesticides. Who would have thought that winter tomatoes would have such a story?
As my incomplete list of workers shows, farmworkers are only a fraction of the people who work unseen to allow us to eat every day. Throughout the entire food system, people perform jobs that most of us don't recognize or appreciate. The Growing Food and Justice For All Initiative is a resource for anyone concerned with bringing about a just and sustainable food system.
As is often said, no food system is sustainable if it is not just. So think about what it took to feed you today, and resolve to make your own food system more just and sustainable.
Note: the photo above is borrowed from Slow Food Portland.