Fair Food Festival Community/Farmworker Alliance New York, New York

This past Saturday, Fair Food activists gathered for the family-friendly Fair Food Festival in Brooklyn, NY, an all-day event sponsored by a number of local organizations, including the indomitable Community/Farmworker Alliance.

The day featured workshops on the roof-top garden, movie screenings, face-painting and much more! As described in the Carroll Gardens Patch, “The Commons on Atlantic Avenue served as a hub of educational activities for kids and adults, workshops and home base for rally participants throughout the day.”

Students, Brooklynites, and concerned consumers continued to stream in all morning, making tomato artwork for the afternoon protest and even re-purposing a trader joe’s shopping bag to carry the Fair Food message.

One particularly popular activity featured the writing of Trader Joe’s break-up letters from a heart-broken customers, letting Trader Joe’s know that if they didn’t “end their lies, the relationship was over,” in the words of one particularly spurned consumer. Soon, these break-up letters filled the walls.

Look for more “Dear Joe” letters in the coming months, as consumers let Trader Joe’s know they won’t take “no” for an answer.

The day’s first action took place at a Cobble Hill Trader Joe’s, where the NY Fair Food allies took a page from past protests and invited customers and passersby to “sample justice“.


As always, that opened up opportunities for flyering and further discussion…

… and as Trader Joe’s shoppers left the store they were shocked to find that a company which markets itself as an ethical grocery chain had refused to sit down with the CIW and support the first ever real hope for more humane working and living standards for Florida farmworkers.

Then it was time for another time-honored action — the Unity Run to Trader Joe’s!

Many of those gathered at the festival took off together through the streets of Brooklyn, handing out fliers as they raced toward the supermarket with a manager letter to present to management.

Once they got there, however, the reception was as chilly as ever. The manager refused to even read the letter, saying that he had been given strict orders from his higher-ups not to accept any letters from the CIW or about the Campaign for Fair Food. He quickly escorted the delegation outside the store.

But, fortunately, reinforcements were on the way, filling the streets with a colorful protest that wound its way through Brooklyn to the Trader Joe’s store where the runners had preceded them.

Once in place, the protest began in earnest…

… with allies, like the CIW’s fellow food workers at the United Food and Commercial Workers union holding down the fort outside the store…

… while CIW members met briefly again with another manager…

… but were once again turned away, but not before hearing the same time-worn excuses Trader Joe’s has used for months. But the CIW members were quick to respond, with Gerardo Reyes (above right) asking, “What are you going to do if there is an abuse in the fields where you buy tomatoes?” For this the manager had no answer. “If you pay the penny, how long will it be for and how will there be any accountability?” Again he had no answer.

A long day of learning, fun, and action ended with the tunes of the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, who helped keep spirits high among the protesters. And as is the case with all Fair Food actions, this one ended only after thousands of customers, most new to the campaign, learned about the abuses in Florida’s tomato fields and the first real program in Florida history that is taking a bite out of those abuses.

The message couldn’t be more clear. But it will only get louder as the weeks pass and we build up to the major action in Monrovia, CA at Trader Joe’s headquarters this coming October 21. Don’t miss it!