Posted by: tylere108 | October 14, 2010

Just Tomatoes

I am going to stray a bit from the usual climate and energy talk that dominates my blog posts to share some very exciting news.

As a native Floridian, I try to follow all that is (or isn’t) happening in the sunshine state. This means that I tend to know what hurricanes are in the Atlantic Ocean, what is happening with the Senate race between Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio and how the orange and tomato crops are doing.

I know this may sound silly but when you are born and raised in a place, it just kind of sticks.

Yesterday, the tomato news was off the charts.

Pacific Tomato Growers signed an agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, committing to better wage practices. After years of frustration and negotiaton, “Pacific Tomato Growers pledged to improve its working conditions and pay harvesters a penny more per pound, which could raise annual wages from about $10,000 to as much as $17,000”.

A penny a pound. Isn’t that Amazing?

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers have been fighting for years to secure better wages for tomato harvesters, equating traditional harvesting conditions to modern day slavery. Their campaign has centered on targeting big corporate consumers of tomatoes such as grocery stores and fast food chains. They started with Taco Bell and after securing a penny a pound from them moved on to McDonalds, Burger King, and Subway (all are paying an extra penny a pound for their tomatoes). Now they are taking on Publix, Kroger, and other grocery stores.

(As a personal side note here, I have to admit that I was horrified to learn that Publix has not already committed to selling “just tomatoes”  –  I love Publix but clearly they have some work to do)

With Pacific Growers agreeing to pay one penny more per pound to their workers, we are on the right track. Now we need to make sure that supermarkets and the consumer (that’s right – you and me!) are choosing tomatoes from the US, supporting this commitment to better labor practices and human welfare.

Next time you see a Pacific Tomato (which will be soon because they are one of the largest growers in the country) go ahead and pick it up – you will know that they are are the right track to just and safe working conditions.

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