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Last week was National Farmworker Awareness Week, as well as the celebration of the birthday and legacy of Cesar Chavez.  As we honor these significant events, it is important to realize the struggle for farmworker justice that Cesar Chavez symbolizes still continues today.  Many victories were made in his time, but much more remains to be done in order to provide farm laborers with the protections, compensation, and respect they deserve.  Perhaps the most shocking issue remaining is the presence of child labor in U.S. fields. Approximately 400,000 children are currently employed in agriculture throughout our country, receiving far fewer protections under federal law than any other working youth.  The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) was established to stop the use of child labor in the U.S.   The minimum age set forth in the FLSA is 16 for […]

by Dayna Burtness, Midwest Fellow   Ask any of my friends—I am a champion bargain-seeker.  I cut coupons, I scour the internet for specials, and I will spend hours at the thrift store pawing through piles of clothes just to find one nice pair of pants.  Needless to say, I can spot a good deal from a mile away.   I recently came across the best deal ever: $8 a year (a YEAR!) for a 40% increase in farmworker wages.    Let me explain. It’s National Farmworker Awareness Week, so to learn more I’ve been reading Gabriel Thompson’s new book, “Working in the Shadows: A year of doing the jobs (most) Americans won’t do.” To put a face on the statistics about farmworkers, Thompson spends two months cutting lettuce in Yuma, AZ.    He chronicles how hard farm work is on […]

  Like machines, nearly two million of workers in America’s fields labor without rights, earn subliving wages, and exist in dehumanizing circumstances. –“Like Machines in the Fields,” Oxfam America   The entire food supply chain should be safe, transparent, and fair to serve eaters, farmers, and farmworkers alike. Those who pick food in the United States deserve fair living and working conditions. As Bon Appétit’s fellows, we continue to travel the country to farms to learn about firsthand about farnlabor practices and to colleges to share what we know.  Please join us in recognizing National Farmworker Awareness Week: March 28 – April 3, 2010.   Here are ways you can learn more and get involved: LEARN: For an introduction to the facts, read these factsheets published by the Student Action with Farmworkers. READ: Check out our Triple Pundit series on the […]

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   By Vera Chang, West Coast Fellow, Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation Here is my latest piece on our Triple Pundit business of sustainable agriculture series: When Commodities Traders See Tomato Pickers in Action. It’s about the Student Farmworker Alliance and Farmworker Rights Workshop I participated in at Strengthening the Roots: Food and Justice Convergence.

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Mills College Community Botanic Garden By Vera Chang, West Coast Fellow, Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation Spring is coming into bloom and the Bon Appétit Fellow’s college and farm tours are rolling right along! One topic that continues to excite me on my college tour is campus farms and gardens. I echo Midwest Fellow, Dayna Burtness’s passion for them. ‘Tis the season! Farms and gardens are popping up at colleges and universities all over, growing not only vegetables but also soil, ideas, and budding farmers. Campus farms and gardens are a reclamation not only of our country’s farmland but also of our education. Let’s think back to how the U.S. school calendar was traditionally set up: students studied fall, winter, and spring and helped with the harvest during summer’s peak season. Studying mathematics and literature was complemented with learning how to grow food. I […]

Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of presenting The Story Behind the Food at my alma mater, St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN.  The highlight of the day at St. Olaf was the big, supportive turnout for the presentation GM Peter Abrahamson and I gave that evening—at least 30 students brimming with energy and good questions!  Students at St. Olaf—especially this crowd—are generally well-informed about issues surrounding food and agriculture, so across the board they gave me feedback about how cool it was to get the “behind the scenes” story of what BAMCO is doing to improve the food system.    Another highlight was dinner!  I can’t tell you how much I miss eating in Stav Hall three times a day, so I relished the opportunity to spend two glorious hours in the café eating a beautiful salad with all the […]

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An animal rights activist I know once told me that there is a correlation between how a farm treats its animals and how it treats its workers.  “After all,” he said, “if a farm is exploiting and abusing its workers, then they’re probably not treating their animals with respect either. And the opposite is also true—if they’re taking the time to make sure their animals live good lives, they’re probably looking out for their workers as well.” Well, I don’t know if this rule holds true across the board or not, but it certainly seems to be the case for Bowman & Landes Free Range Turkey Farm in New Carlisle, OH. Recently I drove through two hours of snowy Ohio scenery to meet up with the folks at Bowman & Landes, who gave me the grand tour of their turkey […]

In light of the recent Salmonella outbreak of foods containing hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), Helene York discusses this little-known yet widespread food ingredient and emphasizes the importance of cooking from scratch. Read the full post at The Atlantic Food Channel.

 Tony Mantuano, executive chef at Terzo Piano restaurant at the Art Institute of Chicago, will be a contestant on the second season of Top Chef Masters. On the show, world-renowned chefs compete against each other in weekly challenges, testing their culinary skills and creativity. The season premieres on Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 11pm/10pm Central on Bravo! Read about Tony's background and see who he's competing with on the show. Good luck, Tony!

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Last week (2/22/10) East Coast Fellow Carolina Fojo visited Oberlin College and Case Western University for two very different but very successful events about social issues that relate to the very food we eat. Here’s a rundown of what happened: Oberlin College: The Oberlin crowd at my event was pretty liberal, well-versed on many of these issues, and asked some good, challenging questions. What made this event unique, however, was that after my presentation we set up a sort of “Foodie Fair”, in which several on-campus groups (animal rights, slow food, carbon sequestration research, composting/gardening, etc.) put together signs, and set themselves up around the room next door. Once my presentation was done, the crowd shifted to that room to continue the conversation about how to improve the food we eat.    The “Food Fair” was extremely successful. Here’s one example: […]