By Carolyn Smalkowski
On an average day, 32 million Americans will go grocery shopping, spending approximately 41 minutes per visit at the store. Yet, many Americans know little about the life cycle of their food from farm to table, including the potential abuses that may be taking place out of the public eye.
A new documentary called Food Chain seeks to explore worker’s rights in American agriculture. It highlights the lives of America’s farm workers, documenting slave-like conditions, exploitation, harsh living conditions, and low wages. According to the film, “the entire modern supermarket goes out of its way so that you’re not reminded of where your food came from or who picked it.”
The film features activist and labor leader Dolores Huerta, investigative journalist Eric Schlosser, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., among others. Although Food Chain is still in production, the film makers aspire to encourage grocery stores to be leaders in the food justice movement by demanding better wages and working conditions from the farms they support.
One organization featured in the film and currently involved in the movement to improve agricultural workers’ rights is the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). Based in Florida, CIW is a farmworker organization working on two campaigns – the Campaign for Fair Food and the Anti-Slavery Campaign – to improve the lives of Florida’s tomato pickers. CIW also partners with the Alliance for Fair Food to support corporate social responsibility and promote farmworker rights by forming agreements with major corporations like McDonalds and Subway.
To support Food Chain and watch its trailer, please visit the film’s website or see the video above.
To read more about American agricultural labor rights, see “Like Machines in the Fields: Workers without Rights in American Agriculture”, United Farm Workers, and Fair Food Standards Council.
Carolyn Smalkowski is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.