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Thursday, July 7, 2011

You say tomato, I say tomatto

My husband has many amazing qualities. His dark chocolate eyes, his sculpted bi-ceps, all those beautiful locks. Oh yeah, also non-physical qualities (do those matter as much? Beauty is vain and fleeting, my ass. No offense woman at the end of Proverbs that I hate and will never live up to. Fearing the Lord is great, but I know my husband be feelin the fear of God when I walk out the room in my strapless turquoise dress and black strappy heels. Just sayin.) Anyone who knows Ted will say he's slow to anger, rich in patience, full of kindness.

And full of shit. Literally. The man has major constipation issues. (God I hope he doesn't read this post.) I only make this public declaration to encourage others who are living with backed up family members. Like most of you, we have tried (yes, we. I'm proud to say I'm regular, but Ted's shit issues have taken over my world and made me a little crazy. I'm sure you can't notice the crazy though.) enemas, laxatives, colonscopies, cleanses, fiber (oh the fiber. The man, who I often refer to as my old man was surviving on Metamucil. So much Metamucil that when it stopped working, we gave every last extra bottle of it as white elephant gifts at the 15 Christmas parties we attended last year.) Currently he is living off of polyethylene glycol, to which my friend Ellen refers to as 'poo goo.' (Yes, she is the wife of a Harvard Law student and she says poo goo. Oh, I adore you Ellen. In fact, it was quite a bonding moment when they both pulled out the white powder before Thai curry one night. This discovery led to another discovery that they both wear mouth guards at night to prevent tooth breakage from grinding. Oh Ben, you and I need to stick together and remember that romance is all about what you make of it. Bring on the sexy baby, I love the way you kiss me with your mouth guard....)

Today, however, is a new day. Ted and I have discovered..... drum roll please.... juicing!!! Today Ted started his day with 5 carrots and 3 cups of spinach, liquid style. The juicer is a bitch to clean, the organic veg will take our grocery bill from 800 bux a month to 1800 bux a month. but for the sake of a clean colon and a functioning husband, I'll pay any price for this situation to be rectified. (insert laugh)

Juicing has caused me to think about the produce I am purchasing and how it's picked, who picks it, etc. (Fair food is the point today because fair trade findings are the point of this blog. I know you were wonderin.)I came back to thinking about Immokalee, Florida. I know I"ve mentioned this little place before. It's the county I'm living next to this summer and although I haven't visited it yet, I have started following the work of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). I heard about slavery behind the tomato industry when I was in college in Palm Beach. I heard horrific stories of men who were traffiked from Mexico, told that they could enjoy the good life in Florida with the cystral, clear waters and Mickey Mouse. These men were taken to a farms in Immokalee to pick tomatoes, sleeping 15 men to one small room, being paid less than a dollar a day and in some cases, being fed cocaine by the farm owners (aka, slavemasters) so that they would stay on the farms. A coalition of people and workers was formed in 1998 after a strike and protest from Fort Myers to Orlando. Today, this is what the CIW does:

The CIW's Anti-Slavery Campaign is a worker-based approach to eliminating modern-day slavery in the agricultural industry. The CIW helps fight this crime by uncovering, investigating, and assisting in the federal prosecution of slavery rings preying on hundreds of farmworkers. In such situations, captive workers are held against their will by their employers through threats and, all too often, the actual use of violence -- including beatings, shootings, and pistol-whippings.

In 2001, the CIW got involved in boycotting large corporations who used the produce from slave-run farms. Taco Bell was their first victory after only 4 years of pressure and national protesting. They agreed to improve wages and working conditions for the workers in their supply chain. The network of people who collaborated together against Taco Bell formed the Alliance for Fair Food. AFF hosted and won many other campaigns against McDonald's (who agreed to develop an industry-wide third party mechanism for monitoring conditions in the fields and investigating abuses.) Subway, Burger King, even WHOLE FOODS, jumped on board with the principles of CIW and AFF. In late 2010, CIW signed an agreement with the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange to extend the CIW’s Fair Food principles – including a strict code of conduct, a cooperative complaint resolution system, a participatory health and safety program, and a worker-to-worker education process – to over 90% of the Florida tomato industry. This watershed moment ended a 15-year impasse and followed the establishment, just weeks earlier, of two direct agreements between the CIW and two of the largest growers in the industry, Pacific and Six L’s.

I know the focus of CIW and their partners has turned to Publix (come on Publix, shopping really does feel like a pleasure when I walk in your doors, have a few free samples, get  my fish steamed at the fish counter and am able to order more organic choices.) Trader Joes (again, seriously? You rock at so many other things you do such as Fair Trade chocolate and mochi!) and Stop and Shop (no surprise there. Perhaps the suckiest store of my life) Check out this video for a protest against Publix on 4th of July.

But I know it doesn't stop with tomatoes. Or Florida. What about corn? Soy? (the two biggest agricultural industries in this nation) Many of you have seen Food Inc, and we know the grossness behind chicken, beef and milk. Or even the organic carrots and spinach that keeps my husband movin? I'm not so sure that organic means fair. There is so much more reading and learning to be done about the food industry. It can feel overwhelming, but one tomato at a time. I plan to get more involved with CIW this summer, seeing as we live right here. And I hope that we can juice and shit, more fairly. And more regularly.