The time to celebrate the harvest– and those who harvest it — is here…

NY Times’ Mark Bittman with a tip of the hat to the CIW; Great new article on sustainability throws down gauntlet with Publix, Trader Joe’s; Publix customers launch campaign to return receipts, signal determination for long fight ahead!

With Thanksgiving just days away, our thoughts turn to family, football, and the great, abundant feast that marks the start of the holiday season. But along the way, many people — commentators and consumers alike — pause to remember the people who help make the Thanksgiving feast we are about to eat possible.

Mark Bittman, the incomparable New York Times food writer, is one of those people. Be sure to read his list (“No Turkeys Here,” Nov. 19) of all that we have to be thankful for in the world of food this year both because it is a wonderful compilation of all the great people and projects in the food movement today and because it mentions the Coalition of Immokalee Workers! Here’s the CIW excerpt (though you really should do yourself a favor, read the entire list, and get inspired for the challenges ahead in food!):

“10. Can’t mention Estabrook (or his book “Tomatoland”) without a shout out to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, who showed that farmworkers could fight for and win better working conditions.” Read more

Check out the article in its entirety here.

Next is a well-informed opinion piece from the world of social responsibility, titled “Doing the Right Thing Pays: Sustainable Leadership Series”. It’s actually Part 2 in a 3-part series by Ted Coine and it takes a close look at why companies like Trader Joe’s and Publix, despite their reputations as ethical businesses, take such a stubborn stand against a widely-accepted and respected initiative like the Fair Food Program. Here’s how he wraps up Part 2, leaving us hanging for the conclusion:

“…. Now, the CIW is locked in a similar struggle with Publix, one of America’s largest supermarket chains, and with Trader Joe’s. And following the pattern of the fast food giants, these two companies are stonewalling. It seems that penny is more than either is willing to pay for ethically-sourced food.

It’s a fascinating, troubling clash of wills to observe. A clash that seems especially inconsistent with the reputation of a firm like Trader Joe’s, which has branded itself as highly ethical, as dedicated to CSR.

In my next exclusive post here at SBF, on December 2, we’ll dive into the struggle CIW has been fighting for that extra penny. Hopefully by then both Trader Joe’s and Publix will have responded to my queries.

My underlying question? Can a company be Good just some of the time, and still prosper from a reputation as a responsible actor in society? Or is Corporate Social Responsibility a matter of consistently-applied principles, of doing the right thing even when no one’s looking?” Read more

We’ll be sure to bring you Part 3 when it comes out.

Finally, we leave you with a short local news clip. We can’t embed it here, but you can click on the following link to find the story: “Saving Publix Receipts: Human rights group and SWFL churches want to send your receipts to Publix HQ”. It’s short, but sweet.

That’s all for now. But this Thanksgiving, when you gather with family and friends and sit down to a delicious, bountiful holiday meal, do take a moment to think about the men and women who, every day, face heat, exhaustion, and, all too often, humiliation to harvest the fruits and vegetables on your plate. There is a story of real suffering behind our food, but today that story is changing, thanks to the historic partnership among workers and growers and retail purchasers established in the CIW’s Fair Food Program.

Despite the progress, much more remains to be done. The supermarket giants like Publix, Kroger, Stop & Shop and Trader Joe’s must play their part if Florida’s farmworkers are to enjoy the full potential for fairer wages and more modern working conditions promised by the Fair Food Program. This season, help us make that promise a reality as we press the world’s largest supermarkets to support humane farm labor standards. Join the Campaign for Fair Food.