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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Wal-Mart Signs on to Fair Food Program

The estimable Barry Estabrook, author of Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit, has some good news to report on the tomato front. Wal-Mart, which sells more groceries than any other retailer in the world, just signed on to the Fair Food Program.  Here’s why you should care.

The FPP was created by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a human rights group based in Immokalee, FL  that is home to the state’s largest migrant workers’ community. The FPP—“one of the great human rights success stories of our day"--not only improves wages, but also includes a code of conduct that outlaws debt bondage and mandates humane working conditions.

Estabrook on what it means to have ginormous Wal-Mart sign on to the FFP:
The program is unique in that it creates a legal framework linking laborers, tomato farm owners, and final purchasers of tomatoes. The purchasers, which include such giants as McDonalds, Whole Foods Market, and Sodexo, have agreed to pay an additional penny per pound for the tomatoes they buy. In turn, the producers pass that penny directly along to the workers. A penny-a-pound might sound like a pittance, but it represents a 50 percent raise, the difference between making $50 and $80 a day.

But the agreement goes far beyond providing a livable—albeit modest–income. Signatories abide to a Code of Conduct that enforces zero-tolerance for slavery or sexual assault. Workers attend education sessions to learn their rights and responsibilities under the Program. They are also informed about health and safety issues.
[More at Estabrook’s blog, Civil Eats.]  --  B.B.  

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