SixEight Life

justice.mercy.journey

{SCS} Recipe for Change

One of my favorite things about summer is all the yummy produce that is available for cheap! My husband and I are big fruit and veggie fans and there is nothing like getting that amazing tomato or juicy strawberries at season’s peak.

Ah but there’s a catch to those fantastic tomatoes and yummy berries. You knew there was a catch right? I mean, its my blog, there’s always a catch.

According to the International Justice Mission and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, over 1,000 people have been freed from Slavery in Florida’s Tomato fields in the last fifteen years. This is happening here, in the United States.

We hear about sex trafficking of minors in our country, and the occasional trafficking case involving labor. But the reality of our agriculture system is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of workers who are enslaved in these fields. Slavery is the underbelly of our society today, it’s usually masked as ‘unskilled’ or ‘low income’ labor, but in so many cases workers are not getting paid anything. Their papers and documents are seized and threats of imprisonment and deportation are held over their heads. They are vulnerable, and because of that vulnerability, they are exploited. And I don’t know about you, but my tomatoes are not that tasty when I’m faced with the fact that they may have been harvested by slaves.www.ijm.org/recipe-for-change

But there is hope! Of course there’s hope, right? We can do something to end slavery in the fields of our country. The International Justice Mission has partnered with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in the “Recipe for Change” initiative. You may have heard of IJM, they are in the forefront of abolitionism in our country. They recently delivered 72,000 signatures to President Obama from American citizens demanding more legislation to end modern day slavery. They are in the business of rescuing slaves and providing legal and aftercare support to survivors. One word to describe IJM: Incredible.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is a new organization to me, but they’ve been around for a few years. They are a beautiful picture of grassroots community organizing, as they are comprised of workers in Florida’s fields. They have expanded and are working to advocate for field workers around the country. They are working to get restaurants and grocery stores to sign agreements to provide fair trade, slave free produce, primarily tomatoes. And they’ve been successful! Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s (my fave) and several restaurant chains have signed the agreement. They’re working on larger chains now, and I believe that they will be able to dramatically reduce and eliminate slavery in our fields.

So, maybe you’re wondering what you can do? Well, head over to Recipe for Change and sign the petition. You can also write a letter to your preferred grocery chain to ask them to sign the agreement. And you can dig deeper and learn more about the coalition and what slavery looks like in the tomato fields of our country. I encourage you to do some research, become informed. IJM and the CIW have great resources and documented information to help you and I understand the issue and the facts surrounding it. Don’t take my word for it, the information is out there.

Imagine if hundreds of us took letters to our local Kroger and Publix, asking them to end stop purchasing slave produced tomatoes. We could dramatically reduce, if not eliminate, this form of slavery. Together we can make a change in how our food is produced, and in turn change the lives of exploited workers. Sounds like a tasty tomato to me.

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