New Documentary Sheds Light on Plight of Farmworkers

Illustration for article titled New Documentary Sheds Light on Plight of Farmworkers

A new documentary from director Sanjay Rawal opened Friday, and sheds light on the deplorable working conditions of farmworkers in Florida, as well as their fight with major supermarket and fast food corporations.


Food Chains is being co-produced by investigative journalist Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, and Eva Longoria. In particular, the movie highlights numerous human rights violations among farmworkers that amount to modern-day slavery right here in the US.

The film focuses extensively on the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a group of tomato pickers that banded together to fight for better conditions. Chief among the CIW's efforts is the Fair Food Program, whereby major food retailers agree to pay a penny more per pound of tomatoes and to refuse to do business with any farm with human rights violations to its name. To date, the 12 companies that have agreed to the program are Chipotle, Walmart, Whole Foods, Compass Group, Trader Joe's, McDonalds, the YUM Brands, Subway, Burger King, Aramark, Bon Appetit, and Sodexo.

Meanwhile, a major part of the film involves the CIW's six-day hunger strike at the HQ for Florida supermarket chain Publix, who, along with Wendy's, have refused to become part of the Fair Food Program.

As if we needed another reason to hate Wendy's.

Image via Tim UR/Shutterstock.



I know that Canada has a similar situation with migrant agricultural workers, particularly in southern Ontario, where we grow soft vegetables and fruit (whose harvest must be done largely by hand or the product will be damaged).

A couple years ago, 10 migrant poultry farm workers were killed when the truck they were travelling in drove through a stop sign. The death toll was so high because there were 13 workers sitting on a flatbed, being driven back to their quarters for the night. 13 workers sitting on a flatbed. That's not even close to what passes for health and safety in Ontario. We like to think we're a progressive, enlightened country. We're just blind to our own bullshit.

I'm looking forward to this documentary. Thanks for the head's up.