The truth isn't pretty. But it's not necessarily the threat of a salmonella outbreak that makes commercially grown and harvested tomatoes so scary; instead, it's the conditions of the workers picking those tomatoes.
Thanks to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, or CIW, a number of companies (including Whole Foods and fast food places like McDonalds and Taco Bell) have signed on to increase what they pay per pound of tomatoes by 1 cent— nearly doubling the total a tomato picker is paid per bucket.
Still, conditions are far from perfect (even far from humane), and there are a number of companies (Chipotle and Trader Joe's, surprisingly) that haven't yet joined the CIW campaign. The Campaign for Fair Food is gaining steam, however, with a week of action that wrapped up just yesterday reporting great support across the board.
Commercial tomatoes continue to perpetuate unethical and unfair labor conditions. For those of us who are concerned about what food we eat—where it came from, what it stands for, and how it got from farm to plate, the conditions of the fellow human beings picking the crops for our dinners should be at the forefront of our thoughts.
Read more about the tomato workers' conditions, what the CIW is doing to help, and how you can make a difference at The Perennial Plate.