Food Workers Scramble to Put Food on Their Tables

“The Plate,” National Geographic • Nov. 14, 2016

One in seven American workers is employed in some segment of the food chain, from apple pickers to packing-house workers, truckdrivers to supermarket clerks to fast food counter staff. And many of them increasingly struggle to put food on their own tables, according to a report released Monday from the Food Chain Workers Alliance, an advocacy group founded in 2009, and the Solidarity Research Center. What’s more, the problem is worse among women and people of color.

Are Restaurants Big Food or Small Business?

“The Plate,” National Geographic • April 19, 2016

Oil, banks, and big box stores are some of the industries that probably come to mind when you hear the term “powerful lobbyists.” Now, a new report aims to add one more to the list: restaurants. Continue reading “Are Restaurants Big Food or Small Business?”

Can We Afford to Pay U.S. Farmworkers More?

“The Plate,” National Geographic • March 31, 2016

Giving the 3.5 million workers picking produce on American farms a raise to match the $15 an hour many fast food workers are fighting for sounds unaffordable, right?

Not really. According to University of California-Davis agricultural labor economist Philip Martin, the likely additional cost to American shoppers of that wage hike would be about $20 a year. Continue reading “Can We Afford to Pay U.S. Farmworkers More?”

Farmers Work a Second Shift to Supplement Income

“The Plate,” National Geographic • Feb. 25, 2016

The “average” American farmer earns an income above most Americans—but that’s often because they’re hustling in a second-job off the farm, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week. Continue reading “Farmers Work a Second Shift to Supplement Income”

Some Restaurateurs Are Building Better Benefits Into Food Jobs

“The Plate,” National Geographic • Feb. 2, 2016

The eggs and flour at Rose’s Fine Food, a diner on Detroit’s deep east side, are local. The bread and mustard, the donuts and pickles and beets, are all made in-house. The lunch menu offers a $13.75 rabbit sandwich; the chef apprenticed at San Francisco’s famed Tartine bakery; and there is a well-worn Ottolenghi book among the stack of cookbooks displayed on a kitchen shelf. In this, Rose’s is unmistakably a trendy kind of place.

But Rose’s is also becoming known for a new kind of trend: Paying restaurant workers a decent wage and offering opportunity for advancement. Continue reading “Some Restaurateurs Are Building Better Benefits Into Food Jobs”

‘Forked’ Rates Restaurants On How They Treat Their Workers

“The Salt,” National Public Radio • Feb. 2, 2016

Saru Jayaraman may be restaurant obsessed, but don’t call her a foodie. She’s the founding director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a national organization that advocates for better wages and working conditions for restaurant workers. She’s also published several studies in legal and policy journals as director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California-Berkeley.

The combination of grassroots and ivory tower makes Jayaraman arguably one of the country’s leading experts on what it’s like to live as a restaurant worker in America. She’s someone celebrity restaurateur Danny Meyer turned to as he decided to banish tipping at some of his restaurants to try and close the pay gap between what his servers and dishwashers make. Continue reading “‘Forked’ Rates Restaurants On How They Treat Their Workers”

Labor Gains: Tracing the History of the Fair-Food Movement

Modern Farmer • Winter 2016

En español aquí

When Julia de la Cruz moved to the United States in 2006, she landed, as many migrants do, in a farm field. The Mexican native, who had chosen Florida because of the state’s long growing season and copious employment opportunities, found a job picking tomatoes outside a small town called Immokalee (rhymes with “broccoli”).

Long known for its harsh working conditions, Immokalee featured prominently in Edward R. Murrow’s iconic 1960 exposé, Harvest of Shame. Even in the 1980s, says Janice Fine, an associate professor of labor relations at Rutgers University, “it was the closest thing possible to hell on earth.” No one would have expected Immokalee to offer an answer to the age-old agricultural conundrum of how to balance the demand for cheap food with the need to treat farmworkers humanely. But that’s exactly the problem the town’s tomato pickers have solved. Continue reading “Labor Gains: Tracing the History of the Fair-Food Movement”

Victorias para el trabajador

Rancho Moderno  • Invierno 2016

Traducción de CIW
Artículo en Inglés aquí

Al mudarse Julia de la Cruz a los Estados Unidos en el 2006 ella llegó a trabajar al campo al igual que muchos migrantes lo hacen. Ella escogió llegar a la Florida debido a las largas temporadas y abundantes oportunidades de encontrar trabajo, así fue como empezó a trabajar piscando tomates a las afueras de un pueblito llamado Immokalee.

Immokalee es reconocido por las abusivas condiciones para sus trabajadores, tal como lo expuso al público el documental Harvest of Shame del 1960 con Edward R. Murrow. Según la profesora de relaciones laborales de la Universidad de Rutgers Janice Fine, incluso en los años 80 “era lo más parecido al infierno que existía en la tierra.” Nadie se hubiese esperado que este Immokalee fuera a producir una solución para la contradicción en la agricultura de querer producir comida barata sin maltratar a los trabajadores agrícolas. Sin embargo, esto es exactamente lo que hicieron los trabajadores piscadores de tomate de Immokalee. Continue reading “Victorias para el trabajador”

Beyond Brothels: Farms And Fisheries Are Frontier Of Human Trafficking

“The Salt,” National Public Radio • July 28, 2015

When the U.S. State Department released its annual human trafficking report on Monday, it told distressingly familiar tales of forced sex work and housekeepers kept against their will. But this year, one area got special attention: Slavery in the global supply chains of agriculture, fishing and aquaculture. Continue reading “Beyond Brothels: Farms And Fisheries Are Frontier Of Human Trafficking”

Florida Tomato Pickers’ Wins Could Extend To Dairy, Berry Workers

NPR.org – The Salt • Dec. 12, 2014

Farm workers in America have long been among the nation’s poorest paid and most abused workers. But conditions have been improving for Florida tomato pickers, and those advances may soon reach other farm fields, according to the annual report released Thursday by the Fair Food Standards Council, or FFSC, a labor oversight group based in Sarasota, Fla. Continue reading “Florida Tomato Pickers’ Wins Could Extend To Dairy, Berry Workers”