Campaign for Fair Food: The Ethical Tomato

The Perennial Plate

Willingly or not, we have all eaten an out-of-season tomato. Maybe it was sliced thin on a fast food burger, or perhaps precariously perched atop a salad at a hoighty-toighty restaurant, but sure as sun, it was consumed, likely without much thought to its farm-to-table story. That story, though, is so very, very important. Here's why.

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.

Related posts:
How to Keep Contaminants Out of the Kitchen
How To Buy Truly Humane Eggs
Ethical Eating: The Complexity of Plants

(Image: Flickr member Thelonious Gonzo, licensed under Creative Commons.)