Monday, April 6, 2009

Fair Food Across Borders

Last Friday, Melody Gonzalez from Fair Food Across Borders joined Food Truth for a powerful potluck presentation about conditions for farmworkers in northern Mexico, and related issues in the United States. Many Food Truth members and Bon Appetit manager Debi Wright attended in support of this critical issue. At a time when the food movement is getting schwanky press as Michelle Obama plants a vegetable garden and "organic" and "local" have moved beyond buzzwords, Food Truth was interesting in pursuing it's name---the truth of how our food system is operating, which includes the details that are too often hidden or unpublicized.

Melody showed the film, Paying the Price: Migrant Workers in the Toxic Fields of Sinaloa, which follows a group of families from their homes in southern Mexico, through their 30+ hour bus ride to northern Mexico where they (the whole family, small children included) work on a gigantic industrial farm, risking their health because of toxic pesticide fumigation, long hours, and poor access to adequate nutrition or education. and continued with a discussion. Gonzalez highlighted the fact that Mexican families are not just immigrating to the US to find work, rather, there are great amount of internal migration within the country as families seek work. Along with the devastating conditions that the workers and their children face in the fields, I was most struck by the landscape of the farm in Sinaloa---we may think Iowa and even the land surrounding Carleton are monocrop agribusiness, but at least there are windbreaks here and there, a handful of trees dotting the horizon. There was nothing but crops in the images of the farms of Sinaloa, miles and miles forever into the distance.

Representatives from Fair Food Twin Cities joined Melody, and Food Truth will be looking to work with them on actions and a longer-running, recently announced Student-Farmworker Alliance campaign called Dining with Dignity, calling college and university students to stand in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers as they pressure Aramark, Sodexo and Compass food service providers to purchase tomatoes harvested in fair conditions, for a fair price.

Melody Gonzalez's speaking tour is a sort of kick-off for Fair Food Across Borders, which is aiming to build international solidarity around making visible the human rights abuses suffered by migrant farmworkers in Mexican agribusiness camps. We look forward to partnering with the organization in their upcoming awareness raising and campaigns.

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