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Culture & Religion

Sanjay Rawal’s New Film “Food Chains” Asks “Is My Food Fair?”

Filmmaker Sanjay Rawal discusses Food Chains, his new documentary investigating the plight of a group of farm workers in Southern Florida who have fought for fair food standards.

Filmmaker Sanjay Rawal is highlighted on Big Think today in a video interview promoting his new documentary Food Chains.














As Rawal explains, the focus of the film is on the plight of farm workers across the United States, though specifically on a small labor camp located 15 miles outside Naples, Florida. Rawal calls it a labor camp because, even though 40,000 people reside there during the winter time, there's no mayor, city council, zip code, or infrastructure. All there is is the the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an organization formed to combat "some of the worst atrocities in this country," ranging from sexual harassment to modern-day slavery with nearly everything in between.

Despite the major mid-to-late 20th century accomplishments of folks like Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and the United Farm Workers union, organized labor has been pulverized in the United States over the past few decades. Agricultural and domestic workers have, for a myriad array of political, racial and socio-economic reasons, been exempt from national labor standards since they were first introduced by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s. Thus, Rawal explains that when you pick up a piece of fruit at your local neighborhood Safeway or Trader Joe's or Wal-Mart, there's virtually no way to know whether that food is the product of fair labor practices or, more likely, the product of an unethical and exploitative system. 

With Food Chains though, Rawal highlights one major exception: the Coalition of Immokalee Workers:

"[They] created a program called the Fair Food Program. And that Fair Food Program is really the only program in the United States that absolutely guarantees that workers in the field earn more than sub poverty level wages and are entitled to a complete spectrum of human rights guarantees. They've gotten 12 major retailers to sign onto that program."

So if you visit Trader Joes or Wal-Mart or Whole Foods in the winter time and pick up a Florida tomato, you're guaranteed to be holding a piece of Fair Food. 

"That's the only product in the entire United States that's absolutely guaranteed without a doubt to be fair labor."

Food Chains hits theatres in in major cities today. Be sure to check out the film's trailer below.


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