The Californian: “Food Chains picks up where Harvest of Shame left off”…

[hupso title=”The reviews are in… @FoodChains changing the way we think about #Thanksgiving!” url=”http://ciw-online.org/blog/2014/11/reviews-are-in/”]

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Moviegoers in Bonita Springs, Florida, hit the streets outside a local Publix store after a showing of “Food Chains” this past Sunday. The film has sparked protests at Wendy’s restaurants and Publix stores in cities around the country.

Documentary snags a 100% positive audience score on leading film rating site Rotten Tomatoes!  Even popular culture blog Jezebel gets in on the story: “As if we need another reason to hate Wendy’s”

Media coverage and word-of-mouth buzz around the new documentary “Food Chains” remained strong as the story of farmworker exploitation — and of the unprecedented partnership for social responsibility transforming the Florida tomato industry today — closed out its opening weekend in more than a dozen major cities.  Here’s just a few snippets from reviews around the country:

New York Times:  “Riveting… emphatic and empathetic… How miserable does your day have to be to transform the breeze from a pesticide spray into a blessing?”

Washington Post: “Super Size Me challenged people … Food Inc was similarly revolutionary … now [Food Chains] wants to focus America’s fixation with food on the people responsible for getting it to us in the first place: farmworkers.”

San Francisco Chronicle: “Chilling… But there is inspiration too, as it follows progress made by the labor group Coalition of Immokalee Workers for fair wages and human rights.”

The Californian: “Food Chains picks up where Harvest of Shame left off.”

Mother Jones: “Food Chains isn’t just a typical tale of helpless peons getting swallowed by an oppressive system… [it] highlights the progress that has been achieved.”

Film journal: “Vitally important, infuriating exposé of the world of injustice behind the food you consume… [Food Chains] should literally be seen by every American who unquestioningly lifts fork to mouth for their three squares a day.”

Village Voice: “Americans remain all too disconnected from those who toil in grim living and working conditions to supply their food. Maybe it’s about time to worry… [but] this film explores the problems and presents a solution — so you’ll be upset, but won’t feel forlorn in the end.”

Bill Moyers: “If you love healthy fruit, veggies — and human beings — you’ll want to see Food Chains.”

And the positive buzz has reached the ultimate arbiter of film rating, Rotten Tomatoes, where “Food Chains” has notched an almost unheard of 100% audience score:

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The film has prompted a new national conversation on food in the national media on the eve of the holiday when we celebrate the harvest, this time with a focus on the harvesters themselves.  Here’s an extended excerpt from an excellent article on “Food Chains” from the agricultural correspondent of The Californian, entitled “Film reaffirms food industry profit-over-people motive”:

What price would you put on morality? A penny?

In “Food Chains,” a new documentary that opened this weekend in Salinas, executive producers Eric Schlosser, author of “Fast Food Nation,” and Eva Longoria, an actress who starred in “Desperate Housewives,” present a hard-hitting look at the poverty inflicted on farm workers by the agricultural production chain.

The film has its villains, but for once it’s not the farmers. It briefly took a historical perspective of the United Farm Workers strikes in the Salinas Valley lettuce fields, but for the most part, growers were shown in a sympathetic light — they, too, are getting squeezed by the top of the food chain: corporate grocery chains…

…  Yet many of these giant retailers take no responsibility for this human rights debacle.

They call it a labor issue. That’s putting lipstick on a commodity hog. It is a human rights issue that Americans were first made aware by Edward R. Murrow’s iconic CBS documentary “Harvest of Shame” filmed in 1960.

“Food Chains” picks up where “Harvest of Shame” left off. It focuses on the town of Immokalee, Fla., where a lauded group of tomato pickers from Southern Florida — the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, or CIW, are battling against a grocery chain called Publix (think of it as a smaller Safeway in a balmier climate), based in Lakeland, Fla.

For the fiscal quarter ended Sept. 27, Publix made a profit of about $1.3 billion on sales of $22.7 billion. That’s for 90 days, which averages to more than $14.4 million a day in profit. What does the CIW want?

One penny more per pound of picked tomatoes. A penny a pound would double farmworker wages. So far, Publix has not only ignored the request, it won’t even meet with farm workers… read more

Even the widely-read pop culture/women’s interests blog Jezebel ran a post on the film, ending with a particularly piquant jab at Wendy’s.  Here’s an excerpt:

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A new documentary from director Sanjay Rawal opened Friday, and sheds light on the deplorable working conditions of farmworkers in Florida, as well as their fight with major supermarket and fast food corporations…

… The film focuses extensively on the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a group of tomato pickers that banded together to fight for better conditions. Chief among the CIW’s efforts is the Fair Food Program, whereby major food retailers agree to pay a penny more per pound of tomatoes and to refuse to do business with any farm with human rights violations to its name. To date, the 12 companies that have agreed to the program are Chipotle, Walmart, Whole Foods, Compass Group, Trader Joe’s, McDonalds, the YUM Brands, Subway, Burger King, Aramark, Bon Appetit, and Sodexo.

Meanwhile, a major part of the film involves the CIW’s six-day hunger strike at the HQ for Florida supermarket chain Publix, who, along with Wendy’s, have refused to become part of the Fair Food Program.

As if we needed another reason to hate Wendy’s… read more

As Thanksgiving approaches, “Food Chains” is making Americans take a second look at the fruits and vegetables that grace their holiday tables. If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to take advantage of the Thanksgiving break to catch it at a local theater or on iTunes.  Then add your voice to the growing conversation about food justice!