Luchando por Comida Justa (Fighting for Fair Food)

Florida fruit pickers say Whole Foods produce may be cheaper than you thought.

For all you Whole Foodies who put your minds at ease knowing that the food you purchase is friendly to animals and to the environment, consider this: Lucas Benitez and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has targeted your beloved bastion of organic food products for their next round of negotiations to bring tomato pickers in Florida fair wages and humane working conditions.

Benitez, the director of the coalition, told an audience at UT Thurday evening that Whole Foods "is more interested in cheap tomatoes than the well-being of those working to get produce to the store."

Human rights often fall behind the environment and animal rights when it comes to concerns about what we choose to eat, even in the mind of the "responsible" consumer, Benitez said.

The coalition was behind a 2001 boycott of Taco Bell that in 2005 successfully gained a more livable working wage for tomato pickers. Before 2005, Benitez said, the pay rate of 30-35 cents per bucket of tomatoes had been stagnant since 1978.

All the fast food chains owned by Yum! Brands (Long John Silvers, Pizza Hut, A&W, KFC) followed suit soon afterward in paying their tomato farm workers higher wages. When McDonald's saw the writing on the wall in Florida, no boycott was necessary to bring their big-wigs to the negotiating table.

These corporations, however, employ less than half of the tomato farm workers in Florida. There is more work to be done and the coalition now turns their eyes and actions toward Burger King and Whole Foods.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at austinchronicle.com/opinion.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Unions
Conservatives vs. 9/11 Responders
Conservatives vs. 9/11 Responders
Fringe right draws firefighter, cop wrath after Straus attack

Richard Whittaker, Sept. 15, 2015

Farewell to Linda Bridges, Hero of Texas Schools
Farewell to Linda Bridges, Hero of Texas Schools
Teachers union leader passes, leaving legacy of advocacy

Richard Whittaker, Jan. 14, 2015

More University of Texas
College Confessions From the Dorm's Snitch
College Confessions From the Dorm's Snitch
Accidentally hot-boxed, barfed on, a 24/7 buzz kill – RA life ain't easy

Katarina Brown, Aug. 23, 2017

Peter O'Toole Archives Land at HRC
Hello, Mr. Chips
Peter O'Toole archives acquired by UT's Harry Ransom Center

Marjorie Baumgarten, April 22, 2017

More by Matt Martinez
ICE Draws Cool Reception in Austin
ICE Draws Cool Reception in Austin
Immigration comes calling at the jailhouse

June 13, 2008

George H. W. 'The Dude' Bush
George H. W. 'The Dude' Bush
Do the foreign policy debacles of Bush 43 rehabilitate the career of Bush 41?

April 4, 2008

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Unions, University of Texas, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Whole Foods

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle