For the third year in a row, the Food Chain Workers Alliance has organized International Food Workers Week, using the week of Thanksgiving to call attention to the low wages and poor working conditions endemic at all levels of the food supply chain.
This year, the group has launched Voices of the Food Chain, a documentary series produced in conjunction with StoryCorps and Real Food Media to share the stories of farmworkers, warehouse workers, meat packers, line cooks, restaurant servers and others.
One of the main reasons to eat organic is not because there may be some minor pesticide residue on the food that will harm you, but because farmworkers are being poisoned on a monumental scale. There are thousands of injuries each year due to overexposure to pesticides.
Schlosser argues the system of poor wages that forms the bedrock of the food industry comes at a high price for society as a whole:
We’re paying the price for this food anyway, it’s just that the price isn’t reflected at the checkout stand. The cost of having this inequality and poverty in our midst is huge. We’re paying for it—not just in quality of life—but in all kinds of services that state and local governments and the federal government have to provide. So this is a way for the agricultural industry to shift its external costs on to the rest of society.
In an opinion piece for Al Jazeera America, Lappé writes that the face of the food movement is far more diverse than it’s often portrayed to be:
The “food movement” is complex and often misunderstood. Read snarky Slate articles and you might be led to believe the movement is a white, elitist phenomenon whose poster child is a Lululemon-wearing, latte-sipping Whole Foods shopper and whose de facto guru is Michael Pollan. In other words: out of touch with working Americans.
But the people on the frontlines of the struggle to make healthy, sustainable, local food accessible to all Americans defy this stereotype. At its heart, the movement includes the workers who harvest the peppers, raise the chickens, process the pork, bus the dishes, take the orders, check out the groceries, truck the wares and more.