80% of our salad and 25-37% of our fresh tomatoes come from California.
Over 450,000 immigrants harvest these nutritious foods, and 50-70% are in the US illegally.
Salads are the “it” food now that Americans on a health kick! Sadly, the government’s actions may threaten our ability to eat well because of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s effort to deport illegal immigrants. Communities in California that grow our food are quaking about the potential implications of such deportations. They are a threat to our food system, let alone the dignity and rights of the people who are the fabric of our food society. Families may be separated, farmers will lose their labor force, and we may lose some of our food. Sadly, this isn’t the only human rights abuse occurring in the salad and tomato industries, as the laborers too often have to deal with abuse at work.
Backbreaking work without some basic rights
The vast majority of farm labor in the U.S. is comprised of immigrants, who spend long days bent over in the hot fields tending to and harvesting our food. The salad and tomatoes grown in the US are from farms that do not always treat their workers fairly. This unfair treatment too often includes:
Below minimum wage payment
The prevention of the right to organize
Unsanitary living and working conditions
Exposure to pesticides
But doesn’t Organic make is sustainable?
Sadly, not. The USDA Organic standards do not assure the protection labor and human rights.
A ripe opportunity to make a difference
There are a number of initiatives that work to assure the protection. These include:
These certification programs work with farmers to implement standards that protect worker rights. This assures that your healthy salad was picked by people who were treated well.
How you can make your salad more wholesome...
Buy the most ethical brands at the right stores with the right labels.
😃 Green Brands: Salads and tomatoes certified as Organic while also Fairtrade or participating in Equitable Food. You can find these at Costco and Whole Foods!
😐 Yellow Brands (Organic Only): Taylor Farms, Organic Girl Salad
😡 Red Brands: Dole and Fresh Express, and most other conventional salads and tomatoes from the majority of grocery stores.
Photo of salad farm: Jeff Vanuga / Photo courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service., via Wikimedia Commons
We did not make this up!!