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Wendy’s blocked by Beautiful Bodies; Moyers features Fair Food Program in fight against poverty!

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Alicia Solombrino, lead singer of the fast-rising alternative rock band Beautiful Bodies, joins the crowd during a December performance in Kansas City, Missouri. Ms. Sombrino turned down an offer from Wendy’s to participate in an ad due to the fast-food company’s refusal to support the Fair Food Program.

Two wonderful bits of news from the ever-expanding battle for Fair Food…

First up, Facebook brings us this remarkable — and remarkably heartwarming — news from the world of music:

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For anyone unfamiliar with the Beautiful Bodies’ career and music, such a powerful, selfless statement in support of human rights might seem surprising.  But Beautiful Bodies is not your typical rock band.  From the band’s website:

When guitarist Thomas Becker approached singer Alicia Solombrino about playing music together, one small thing stood in their way: 4,500 miles to be specific. Becker, a Harvard-educated lawyer, was living in Bolivia, where he was suing the former president for human rights violations, and Solombrino was in Kansas City, making music with bassist Luis Arana… read more

If you haven’t heard of Beautiful Bodies yet, head over to their website or Facebook page and check them out, you’ll be glad you did!  Their hit “Invincible” might just become the new Fair Food movement anthem… 

While Beautiful Bodies may have just burst on the scene in the past few years, they were joined this week in their support for the Fair Food Program by a 50-year veteran of the fight for social justice in this country, none other than Bill Moyers.  His website, billmoyers.com, is collaborating with the online network TalkPoverty.com over the next two weeks in a project they are calling, “12 Days, 12 Things You Can Do to Fight Poverty.”   The project is designed to help their joint readership over the next two weeks “discover a new action you can take to help turn the tide in the fight against poverty,” one new action per day for two weeks.  They dedicated one of the days to the fight for Fair Food:

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A Florida strawberry harvester recently called the office of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. She described the strawberry farm where she had worked:

… in that company, you were never allowed to rest, there was no water, and the bathrooms were very far away. Every day, the supervisors and crew leaders would yell at workers, and fired many people on the spot for complaining.

The worker was calling not to report abuse, however, but rather to comment on her new job as a tomato picker in the Fair Food Program. At the tomato farm, she said, 

it is beautiful… There is water, we have bathrooms and shade, and the best part is that they pay a bonus to workers every week. Anywhere from $50 or $60 or $70 a week.

She added, “It is a very good company. What a difference.”

The CIW’s Fair Food Program and Worker-driven Social Responsibility (WSR) model have transformed Florida’s $650 million tomato industry. The program is the gold standard for human rights in the fields today, including: worker-to-worker education on rights, a 24-hour complaint line and an effective complaint investigation and resolution process — all backed by market consequences for employers who refuse to respect their workers’ rights.

Now in its fourth season, the Fair Food Program is poised to expand, and bring respect and dignity for workers to new crops and new states. As underscored by the phone call from the former strawberry worker — that expansion can’t come soon enough.

We cannot extend human rights beyond Florida tomatoes, however, without more support from corporate buyers. In spite of the Fair Food Program’s incredible success, several major companies — including Wendy’s, Kroger, and Publix — staunchly refuse to join the Program and support human rights for the workers in their supply chains.

Call on Wendy’s, Publix and Kroger to join the Fair Food Program!

So go ahead and call on Wendy’s, Publix, and Kroger to join the FFP yourself, then head on over to billmoyers.com and check out the rest of the 12 actions you can take to help end poverty today!

Media Round-up: The Fresh Market agreement makes some noise!

Given the pace of things in the Campaign for Fair Food these days, the announcement earlier this month of the CIW’s agreement with Fresh Market (the 13th agreement in the ever-expanding Fair Food Program) seems almost like ancient history.   Much has happened in the two weeks since we broke the news of the Fresh Market agreement, including the launch of the new Alliance for Fair Food and the call to action for the big spring Parade and Concert for Fair Food.  But that doesn’t mean that the agreement, and its important new provisions designed to reinforce the structural sustainability of the […]

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SPRING ACTION ANNOUNCED! Join CIW for Fair Food Parade, Concert on March 21st!

“…we are going to continue to stand up for what is right. Fear not, we’ve come too far to turn back… we are not afraid and we shall overcome.” — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Between the astonishingly powerful film “Selma“ in theaters this month, and the celebrations taking place across the U.S. today, Dr. King’s legacy is all around us.  And his message is as relevant today as it was fifty years ago: The arc of the moral universe may indeed bend toward justice, but it doesn’t bend of its own accord.  It takes the creative, untiring action of countless ordinary people […]

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Big, big news out of the Fair Food Nation…

Youth, faith, food movement allies come together under a single flag, form the new Alliance for Fair Food! Student/Farmworker Alliance, Interfaith Action and Just Harvest USA unite in one vibrant, diverse ally network ready for the next phase in the fight for Fair Food… The Alliance for Fair Food is back and better than ever!  But before we tell you about this exciting new development in the Fair Food movement, let’s first take a quick look back at its roots. “There is today a human rights crisis in the fields…” For longtime members of the Fair Food Nation, the Alliance […]

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ANALYSIS: The Fresh Market agreement, the LA Times series, and the preferential option for Fair Food…

Fair Food Program in Florida’s tomato industry points the way for Mexican produce industry out of human rights crisis toward 21st century social responsibility;  The question remains: Given Mexico’s deeper societal problems, is reform even possible? We’d like to begin this post with something a bit different, a real time anecdote straight from the Fair Food Program’s data base.  The data base is a rich, unparalleled compilation of information about he Florida tomato industry compiled over time through worker complaints, interviews, and investigations.  This January 6th, a woman called the CIW, not with a complaint, but with a comment, which happens […]

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BREAKING NEWS: Fresh Market signs Fair Food agreement with CIW!

Fresh Market: “We continuously look for ways to source the best products, and being a part of the FFP helps us to know we are sourcing from growers whose practices are fair and socially responsible…” Agreement breaks important ground with two critical new provisions — increased purchases from Florida growers and commitment to support the Fair Food Standard Council’s work monitoring and enforcing the Fair Food Code of Conduct! We will bring you more analysis of this important new agreement — the thirteenth Fair Food agreement with a major retail food corporation and fourth in the  supermarket industry — in the days […]

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Part Three: A 21st century Christmas Carol for the food industry?…

Business as usual is no longer an option for the US food industry in the face of outrageous human rights violations in Mexico’s produce industry; Food industry leaders must leverage their unequaled purchasing power — reward ethical producers, reject those unwilling to implement real reforms — to raise the bar for human rights in Mexico. Remembering that today is the eleventh day of Christmas (making this third and final series installment still timely)… Before we conclude our three-part series on the LA Times investigation into labor rights violations in Mexico’s fields and its aftermath, a brief recap is in order.  In Part One, we […]

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Part Two: A 21st century Christmas Carol for the food industry?…

The market must be a force for real social change, not complicit in grower-led efforts to sweep child labor, violence against workers, and debt servitude under the rug; Real social responsibility in Mexico’s fields will remain a distant dream until country’s deeper ills are addressed, workers free to play leading role in reforms… First, a quick review. In Part One of this three-part series, we looked at the response by produce industry insider Jim Prevor, also known as the “Perishable Pundit,” to the appalling labor conditions in Mexico’s produce industry revealed in the explosive Los Angeles Times investigative series, “Product of Mexico: […]

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Newsweek: “The Fair Food Program Should Be Extended to Mexico”…

This month’s LA Times investigative series, “Product of Mexico: Hardship on Mexico’s farms, a bounty for U.S. tables,”  sent shockwaves through the food industry with its explosive, multi-media documentation of appalling abuses on Mexican produce farms ranging from widespread child labor to modern-day slavery.  Given the key role Mexican produce exports have come to play in the US food market over the past two decades — with Mexican tomatoes, for example, found today on everything from fast-food burgers and subs to salad plates in celebrity chef restaurants from LA to New York City — the full fallout from the series is yet to be seen. […]

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A 21st century Christmas Carol for the food industry?… Part One

The LA Times grabs the food industry by the hand and drags it on a nightmare tour through the inhumanity of Mexico’s vegetable fields…  How will this modern-day Christmas Carol end?  Will the industry respond with a collective “Bah Humbug!”? Or might a “God bless us, every one!” be in the cards? First, a little bit of holiday season history. “An Appeal to the People of England, on behalf of the Poor Man’s Child” was the title of a political pamphlet that Charles Dickens planned to write in 1843 following the publication of a parliamentary report in Britain that year on the effects of the Industrial […]

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“I work because… we need money to eat things”…

LA Times series continues with a focus on child labor, company stores in Mexican produce industry… The portrait of an industry out of control continued to be filled out this past weekend with the final two installments in the explosive four-part LA Times investigative series, “Product of Mexico: Hardship on Mexico’s farms, a bounty for US tables.”  On Friday, the third installment focused on the role of company stores in perpetuating farmworker poverty in Mexico, driving workers into debt and, in the words of the Times’ Richard Marosi, playing “a key role in a farm labor system that holds workers in […]

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“They treated us like slaves”…

Devastating tale of criminal brutality and cruel indifference at one labor camp in Mexico’s tomato industry is a case study in the abject failure of the traditional model of Corporate Social Responsibility First things first.  If you haven’t done so already, put aside whatever else you might be doing at the moment and go read the full second installment of the explosive four-part investigative series in the LA Times entitled “A Product of Mexico: Hardship on Mexican Farms, a Bounty on US Tables”.  Take your time and read it thoroughly, the power is in the details.  Here are just a few: “The compound was fenced […]

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BREAKING NEWS: Explosive LA Times investigative report blows lid off “story of exploitation and extreme hardship” in Mexican tomato fields…

“The real truth is that we’re work animals for the fields” Child labor, forced labor, debt bondage, violence against workers, inhumane living conditions, and more make up the mind-boggling Los Angeles Times portrait of an industry out of control in Mexico — rife with labor abuse and free from effective government or market forces for reform — where virtually all US food corporations source fully 50% of tomatoes consumed in the US.  (All images and video in this post are from the original Los Angeles Times report) Fear, corruption, corporate indifference allow greed and abuse to run rampant; Contrast to Fair Food Program, Florida tomato […]

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The sequel to “Food Chains” — Fair Food Standards Council Executive Director talks about “the story unfolding in the fields today”…

Judge Laura Safer Espinoza: “It’s a wonderful story.  It’s the story of a new day, and it’s a new day born of partnership.” Judge Laura Safer Espinoza is not a person you will hear talking with the press or making many public speeches.  In fact, very few people (outside of New York, where she served on the bench as a State Supreme Court judge for twenty years) even know her name.  That’s because she is the Executive Director of the Fair Food Standards Council, the organization that monitors and enforces the human rights standards of the CIW’s Fair Food Program, and that job is a […]

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Fair Food Program label finds its first home at Whole Foods!

Fair Food Program label appearing in Whole Foods stores in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina today, will continue to expand where Fair Food Program tomatoes sold… Just over one month ago we revealed to the world the freshly-minted Fair Food Program label, an attractive image of a proud female farmworker that declared that the tomatoes she picked had been harvested under the protections of the CIW’s Fair Food Program.  The logo – “Consumer Powered, Worker Certified”: Today, just over one month later, that fresh new image and logo are displayed prominently in Whole Foods stores throughout the company’s South […]

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‘Tis the season to… support the Fair Food Program education team!

Use #GivingTuesday and 2014’s holiday season to help us raise $10,000 and underwrite CIW’s crucial worker-to-worker education program… In one very important way, this holiday season is unlike any other in the CIW’s twenty-year history.  Yes, like every year, workers have returned to Immokalee from their summer season up north.  The CIW’s weekly membership meetings are filling the community center in Immokalee again, calls to request songs dedicated to friends and family are jamming the CIW’s Radio Conciencia’s phone lines again, and CIW staff and Central Committee members are starting preparations for Immokalee’s annual “Year of the Worker” party, again.  And like every year at […]

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