“If you can make it there”… New York embraces CIW, “Food Chains” at US premiere of new documentary!

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Eva Longoria headlines at Tribeca premiere, joins with New York Times to carry CIW all the way to #7 on the global Twitter trending list… 

Last Friday, the New York Times featured — on the front page and above the fold — an excellent story on the CIW’s Fair Food Program (“In Florida Tomato Fields, a Penny Buys Progress”).  The article introduced millions of readers to what Janice Fine, a labor relations professor at Rutgers University, called “the best workplace-monitoring program I’ve seen in the U.S.” 

The article rocketed to #5 on the Times’ Top Ten Emailed list and stayed there for two days, garnering the attention of some highly-placed political leaders along the way, including Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez:

But the CIW’s wild New York ride did not end there.  

On Saturday, the new documentary “Food Chains,” which focuses on the fight for farmworker justice through the lens of the CIW’s 2012 Fast for Fair Food, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.  The film, set for release this fall, is a thoughtful examination of the role of supermarket giants like Publix in perpetuating farmworker poverty and exploitation, and of the power of the CIW’s Fair Food Program for reversing the damage done to farmworkers by those corporations’ volume purchasing policies. 

Following the screening, the film’s executive producers, Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser, joined the CIW’s Gerardo Reyes and director Sanjay Rawal for a “Tribeca Talks” panel (below) on the issues at the heart of “Food Chains”:


The panel treated the audience to a lively, intelligent — and, at times, even laugh out loud funny — conversation on the enduring problem of farm labor exploitation and how the Fair Food Program manages to leverage the power of the market to improve, rather than impoverish, farmworkers’ lives.  Ms. Longoria recalled her days in her first job as a teenager at Wendy’s, and discussed her disappointment at her former employer’s refusal to join the Fair Food Program and honor the human rights of the men and women who pick its tomatoes.  Eric Schlosser discussed the racism inherent in a food system that has, for generations, brutally exploited its African American and Latino workforce, while Gerardo Reyes spoke of the exciting new relationships forged at the heart of the Fair Food Program between workers and growers that are driving the unprecedented progress in Florida’s tomato fields today.  

And the Twitterverse exploded… @CIW rose to heights never before seen in this neck of the woods, #7 on the global issue list:

Here are just a few of the examples of the countless tweets that spread news of the film and the Campaign for Fair Food far and wide in the wake of the Tribeca screening:



All in all, the CIW’s big weekend in New York — from the Times article to the Tribeca premiere — was a dramatic reminder of the unparalleled power of the media, when properly focused, to drive public awareness for positive social change.  

It was also, and perhaps more importantly, a compelling preview of the public campaign to come as the film ramps up for its fall release. 

And if the wave of public awareness generated this past weekend is any indication of what lies ahead, then Wendy’s, Publix, Kroger, Ahold, Safeway, and the other supermarket chains still not on board with the Fair Food Program would be well advised to consider which side they will be on when the film hits theaters and college campuses across the country later this year.