For too long, the faces of the farmworkers who harvest this country’s food have been invisible.* At Bon Appétit Management Company, we believe that farmworkers should not only be celebrated for their contribution to our food system, but enjoy the same rights and protections as employees in other occupations.
Here are some of the things that we and our nonprofit arm, the Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation, are doing — and what you can do:
Protecting tomato pickers in Florida
In the vast tomato fields of south Florida, farmworkers are exploited
and abused, to the extent that one federal prosecutor called Florida
“ground zero for modern-day slavery.” When we heard about this situation, we visited Immokalee, Florida,
and witnessed these deplorable working and living conditions firsthand.
As a result of this experience, we partnered with The Coalition of
Immokalee Workers (CIW), a farmworker organization spearheading the
fight for more humane farm labor standards in Florida, and forged a new
agreement that frames acceptable working conditions and enforces those
conditions with a strict code of conduct. Read more
What you can do: Join the CIW's Campaign for Fair Food and encourage the retailers you frequent to do so, too!
Educating consumers about conditions for farmworkers
In March 2011 the Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation and United Farm Workers of America, with support from Oxfam America, released a groundbreaking report about the people on whom this country depends for its food. The Inventory of Farmworker Issues and Protections in the United States details the lack of laws and protections for crop farmworkers in the U.S., and it is an important step toward addressing the issue of farmworker rights in our business and driving change in the food system. We hope that it will lead to the development of verifiable and enforceable standards for farm work that can be supported by both individual consumers and socially responsible corporations.
The Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation is proud to be the lead sponsor for TEDxFruitvale: Harvesting Change, a special conference that in October 2011 brought together farmworkers, farmers, activists, artists, students, professors, filmmakers, and entrepreneurs to celebrate the people upon whom we depend to harvest our food. In three sessions -- Meet, Movement, and Money --two dozen speakers provided a 360-degree view of farmworkers today and throughout history; compared labor’s progress with other social justice movements; and ended by discussing fair labor practices from a business standpoint. We will be hosting the conference again in late 2012, this time focusing on the origins of the problems facing farmworkers — and how we can fix them.
What you can do: Watch the archived 2011 talks on YouTube!
*That's Rocio Mendoza, above. (Photo by Ansley West.) She picks strawberries and other crops for Bon Appétit Farm to Fork partner ALBA Farms in Monterey County, CA.