“No employee should be subjected to sexually degrading conduct as a condition of employment,” Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami district office, said in a statement. “Migrant farmworkers are no exception.”

Longtime Fair Food activists may be familiar with a thought experiment that CIW members often share in public presentations that is designed to put you, the consumer, at the edge of the field where the food you buy is harvested.  The mental exercise – set in a classic roadside farm stand, like the one pictured below, brimming with freshly picked, local fruits and vegetables – is intended to bridge the gap between the consumer buying produce, on the one hand, and the workers harvesting that produce in often brutal, demeaning labor conditions, on the other.  

Here is an example of the thought experiment, from the transcript of a Fair Food presentation at the 2018 Tom Tom Festival in Charlottesville, Virginia:


… Imagine you’re driving on a beautiful country road winding through Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and you come upon a bucolic farm-stand full of colorful, delicious, fresh sweet corn with kernels this big, the kind that pop and shoot sweet juice everywhere when you squeeze them, and huge, juicy watermelons with slices cut and arranged on a paper plate for you to taste, and red ripe tomatoes still smelling like the plants they were picked from that very morning.

You pull over and fill your bags with as much mouthwatering produce as you can carry and head to the cashier.  And as the cashier begins to ring up your purchase up, your perfect moment is suddenly shattered… by a scream… a scream coming from just over the cashier’s shoulder in the field where your fruit and vegetables are being picked. You look up and you see a young woman, a farmworker, being sexually assaulted by a supervisor in the supervisor’s truck.  And as the field now comes into focus you realize that in another corner a worker is on his knees, trying, in vain, to block the kicks and blows of another supervisor, a cup of water that was knocked from his hand on the ground at his side.  The supervisor is yelling, “Did you come here to work, or to drink water, you lazy mother….!”

And just then the cashier turns to you and, smiling, says, “That will be $21.50!  Cash or credit?”

What would you do?  Would you complete your purchase?  Would you turn your eyes away from the workers, give the cashier your money, and drive away?  

Or would you cut off your purchase immediately and try to stop the abuses — intervening directly, or maybe calling the police?

Of course, thousands of audience members, in talks and panels and workshops from New York to California, have responded with one voice and without hesitation to say NO, they would never buy produce picked by workers they knew were being sexually or otherwise physically abused.

And yet we do.  Every day, farmworkers in this county go to work knowing that they may face sexual harassment and assault, physical and verbal abuse, systemic wage theft, and dangerous working conditions as they pick the fruits and vegetables that we eat.  And every day we buy produce with hardly a thought given to those conditions, because the clean, colorful produce aisles where we buy our food are light years away from the fields where the harvesting – and the abuse – takes place.  Out of sight, out of mind, with only a thought experiment to remind us of the brutal reality countless farmworkers face every day to put food on our plates… until the headlines remind us that the thought experiment is actually rooted in tragic reality...





ACTION ALERT: Student/Farmworker Alliance announces “Pulling Back the Curtain on Wendy’s” Week of Action, Oct. 22-28!

August 17, 2018

Today, we bring you big news from the Student/Farmworker Alliance, the ever-growing, national network of students and young people who have been keeping the heat cranked up on Wendy’s all year long!  This week, students announced their October National Week of Action, with the theme of “Pulling Back the Curtain on Wendy’s”.  So mark your calendars, Fair Food Nation, because on October 22nd – 28th, students will be bringing the call for human rights in the fields straight to Wendy’s doorstep on campuses and in the streets across the country! Here are the full details on the upcoming action – […]

Compass Group USA announces first generation of Fair Food Chefs on new website!

August 15, 2018

Russell Szekely (above), VP of Canteen Culinary – a part of Compass Groups USA – shares his reflections on the Fair Food Program after a visit to Immokalee. Fair Food Chef Paul Ruszat with Morrison Healthcare (of Compass Group USA): “If the sustainability doesn’t start with the people that are growing and picking our food then the rest doesn’t matter.” Today, we bring you news of a brand-new campaign by one of the Fair Food Program’s participating buyers, Compass Group USA!  Compass serves 9.8 million meals every day at its countless different venues, from school lunchrooms to corporate cafes, and […]

This summer, the Fair Food Nation turns up the heat on Wendy’s and Publix in Florida!

August 10, 2018

This week, the CIW and the Alliance for Fair Food (AFF) are announcing a series of Florida summer protests to turn up the heat on Wendy’s and longtime Fair Food holdout Publix Supermarkets ahead of the fall season!  Today, we bring you the AFF report from last weekend’s kick-off action in Sarasota, and the schedule for the rest of the summer (including a protest in Orlando this Sunday!) from the Alliance for Fair Food. The summer action season started off with the first-ever joint protest by March for Our Lives Tampa Bay and the Fair Food Movement, drawing hundreds of […]

New popular education drawings make their debut at worker-to-worker education sessions on Fair Food farms along the East Coast!

August 7, 2018

Hundreds of workers educated in Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey on rights under the Fair Food Program… Today, we bring you an update from the front lines of the Fair Food movement: A report from worker-to-worker education sessions in Virginia and Maryland where, just last week, the CIW Education Team debuted two brand-new drawings, one on the right to a safe work environment, and the other on the right to report abuse without fear of retaliation.  As a quick refresher, in 2015, the Fair Food Program headed north out of Florida and expanded to six East Coast states: Georgia, South […]

Fair Food Program singled out, once again, by international human rights leaders for its unique success in the fight against slavery, sexual violence…

August 3, 2018

Kevin Hyland OBE, the United Kingdom’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner: “This model, called ‘Worker-Driven Social Responsibility’, is rightly gaining much attention from many sectors.” The Fair Food Program continues to accumulate accolades for its unparalleled success in protecting workers’ human rights in corporate supply chains.  In recent weeks, two leading international voices on business and human rights made their admiration for the Fair Food Program known in articles dedicated to spotlighting programs “showing great promise” in fighting sexual violence and modern-day slavery. Shift, the New York-based NGO “founded as a non-profit organization just days after the endorsement of the Guiding […]

Women’s rights legend Gloria Steinem calls out Wendy’s for failing to support farmworker women!

July 31, 2018

Wendy’s Boycott momentum rolls on through the summer with shoutout from Gloria Steinem, media coverage from La Jornada! The CIW’s “How Much Longer, Wendy’s?” March, which took place earlier this month in Manhattan, continues to make waves for Wendy’s, keeping the spotlight trained squarely on the only major national fast food chain that still refuses to join the Fair Food Program.  Today, we bring you two quick media hits from the Wendy’s campaign front. First up, following the New York City action, journalist/activist/women’s rights pioneer Gloria Steinem called out Wendy’s on social media, taking a stand with farmworker women who […]

Milk with Dignity Program already making great strides in the Vermont dairy industry!

July 27, 2018

Vermont dairy worker on the Milk with Dignity Program: “Now that we’re in the program, I learned my rights as a worker, about raises and days off, about how we should be treated.  Now we can speak freely, without fear.” This past Wednesday, Vermont dairy workers with Migrant Justice held a press conference in Waterbury, Vermont, eager to announce some very exciting news:  After its landmark agreement with Ben & Jerry’s last October, Migrant Justice – together with the brand-new Milk with Dignity Standards Council – has been hard at work turning the promises of that seminal agreement into a reality, […]

Hundreds march through heart of Manhattan for “How Much Longer, Wendy’s?” action, demanding a commitment to Fair Food Program!

July 23, 2018

CIW’s Lupe Gonzalo:  “We won’t let Wendy’s executives hide behind these glass walls, and we won’t let them hide abuses behind the walls of greenhouses… So we’re going to march, with our heads held high, with pride… and we will keep doing so until Nelson Peltz and Wendy’s hear our voices as workers, respect consumers, and stop inventing programs that have failed us, every time.” This past Thursday, hundreds of consumers, farmworkers, and their families took to the streets of Manhattan for the big “How Much Longer, Wendy’s?” march. The march was a direct response to Wendy’s continued refusal to […]

TODAY: Join national call-in day to Wendy’s Board Chairman!

July 19, 2018

Today, farmworkers are marching in the streets of New York – and they need YOUR support!  Call Wendy’s Board Chairman to demand a real commitment to human rights by the fast food giant… Last night, scores of farmworkers and their families rolled into New York City after a 24-hour bus ride from Immokalee.  Late this afternoon, they’ll be marching with hundreds of supporters down Manhattan’s Park Avenue, demanding that Wendy’s make an unequivocal commitment to human rights, once and for all.  Following Wendy’s move to repatriate its tomato purchases from Mexico in response to consumers’ human rights concerns – but continued […]

TEDMED to feature CIW’s Gerardo Reyes Chavez, Greg Asbed as speakers for 2018 annual conference!

July 17, 2018

CIW to join scientists and other luminaries, including former U.S. Surgeon General, on stage in California for TEDMED 2018! This November, TEDMED, an independent branch of the world-famous TED Talks conference, is convening in California, bringing together over a dozen powerful speakers to share “ideas worth spreading.”  We are thrilled to share the news that among those on stage will be the CIW’s own Gerardo Reyes Chavez and Greg Asbed who, in a rare TED Talk double-billing, will together share a the groundbreaking new paradigm of Worker-driven Social Responsibility with the TEDMED audience.  While the mainstream TED series focuses on […]