Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Saturday, December 9

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Two Trucks Enter, One Truck Leaves Soup & Bread Cookbook Publishing Party »

News Wed Oct 26 2011

Coalition of Immokalee Workers Take On Trader Joe's

b4s_farmworkers1014_144810c.jpgIn the last 30 years, our grocery aisles have taken a dramatic turn, especially in the produce aisle. We now can buy oranges in May, strawberries in March and tomatoes January. These days, most of us don't even give that phenomenon a second thought, and yet the price that our agricultural system has paid to produce food at that level has certainly been rich.

The state of Florida is home to over one third of our tomato production in the United States and the town of Immokalee, which sits on the sandy edge of the Everglades, is home to a huge population of farmworkers. Immokalee's population is 70 percent Hispanic, and the average annual per-capita income is $8,576. It was here, back in 1993, that the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) formed, working to end modern-day slavery in the agricultural industry and to gain fair wages for workers. Rather than fight against the middle men in the industry, CIW went straight to the top: to the purchasers of tomatoes in the fast food industry. Beginning with Yum! Foods, CIW has gone directly the folks who buy the tomatoes these workers pick, asking for 1 cent more per pound. Farmworkers today usually earn 40 cents for each 32-pound bucket of tomatoes they pick, the same rate as 30 years ago, and have to pick 2 tons of tomatoes to earn about $50.

CIW achieved the first ever accountability from fast-food industry leaders directly to their supply-side farmworkers in order to address sub-standard farm wages. In addition, with the help of the agreements first formed with Taco Bell, CIW created the Alliance for Fair Food to promote practices of socially responsible purchasing in the corporate food industry that advance and ensure the human rights of farmworkers at the bottom of corporate supply chains.

Today, the nation's four largest fast food chains (Taco Bell, McDonalds, Burger King, Subway), the three largest food-service companies, and grocer Whole Foods have reached Fair Food Agreements. CIW has been working with Trader Joe's to reach an agreement, but checking out the last rebuttal, it seems that they are at a bit of an impasse.

Over the next three days, CIW will be hosting a few events around town in order to bring together consumers in hopes of calling on Trader Joe's to do its part to end human rights abuses in Florida's tomato industry.

Schedule of Events:
Thursday, October 27
3pm: Presentation on the Coalition Of Immokalee Workers at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum, Residents Dining Hall, 800 S. Halsted St.

6:30pm: "Sweatshops in the Fields," a presentation with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and featuring "At What Cost" gallery exhibition by ART WORKS Projects. Casa Aztlan, 1831 Racine Ave.

Friday, October 28
7pm: Presentation on the Campaign for Fair Food at Centro Autonomo, 3460 West Lawrence Ave.

Saturday, October 29
3pm: Teach-in at LaSalle and Jackson about the exploitation of workers all along the food and hospitality industries. Speakers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, ROC Chicago, Unite HERE and the Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project.

4pm: March from the Congress Hotel (520 S. Michigan Ave.) to Trader Joe's (1147 S. Wabash Ave., 5pm) for a combined protest with Unite HERE and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

GB store
GB store

Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

GB store



Drive-Thru on Flickr

Join the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

About Drive-Thru

Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Robyn Nisi,
Drive-Thru staff inbox:



 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15