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We are all farmworkers

Mar. 3, 2011

by Slow Food USA President Josh Viertel

Yesterday I joined over 900 friends for a two-mile march in the snow through Boston. We were there to demand that Stop & Shop and its parent company Ahold do their part improve wages and working conditions for farm workers in the tomato fields of Immokalee, Florida. The march was organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers with support from allies, including the Student/Farm Workers Alliance.

The CIW and its allies are asking major supermarkets to sign on to the same agreement that fast food companies and college food service companies have signed through their Campaign for Fair Food. The CIW has posted a photojournal from the march here and a video here.

Below is a copy of the remarks I made at the opening rally:

I am here today because the food movement cannot be separate from the farm workers movement. We are one.

Imagine that today two babies will be born. One in Tarrytown, NY. One in Zacatecas, Mexico. On their first day, they will be the same. They will be all possibility. Like twins.

But over the next eighteen years, if conditions continue as they are, opportunity will blossom for one, and whither for another. In eighteen years, one may be standing here in Boston, finishing his first year in college, while the other stands 1,500 miles to the south, paid poverty wages to pick tomatoes in the fields of Immokalee, Florida.

Unseen, unknown to each other, one young man will nourish the other, picking the oranges that go into the juice he drinks for breakfast, and the tomatoes he buys in the supermarket. Oranges and tomatoes tainted, not just with chemicals, but tainted with the suffering of an unknown twin.

Gerardo Reyes was born in Zacatecas, Mexico. [Gerardo is a farm worker, an organizer with the CIW, and a friend.] I grew up in Tarrytown, NY. We are the same age.


This post originally appeared on The Atlantic Food Channel. To read the rest of it, please click here. back
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