Californians know that the best tomatoes grow here, where the soil and dry climate are pretty much perfect, and not too far from the climate where they first evolved. But most of the U.S.-grown tomatoes sold in grocery stores and used in fast-food restaurants come from Florida. Why? The full saga is spelled out in Barry Estabrook’s book “Tomatoland,” but this op-ed by Mark Bittman does a pretty good job of summing it up.

For years, the agricultural workers who pick the tomatoes in Florida have been fighting for better wages and working conditions — numerous lawsuits have shown that many live in conditions that fit the legal definition of slavery — by going after the wholesalers who buy tomatoes and getting them to sign on to pay an extra penny a pound for the product so that money can be funneled to paying workers a fair wage.

First they started with the fast food chains, like Taco Bell and McDonald’s. Now they’re moving on to the grocery stores: Whole Foods has already signed on, but Trader Joe’s hasn’t budged.

And so on Sunday, after a rally at the Center for Political Education on Valencia Street, a group organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers went on the march to Trader Joe’s.

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9 Comments

  1. sorry i missed your event on sunday, but i’ll head out to tj’s today to buy tomatoes in your honor.

  2. Fine. The farm workers can starve, then. People can’t or won’t pay more than the market or their pocketbooks can bear.

    And the free market is the reality of life outside of Communism, where everyone ends up poor and miserable except the pols and their friends.

  3. I don’t understand; if tomato picking in Florida is so horrible, and there are so many other jobs that are better, than why are there any tomato-pickers in FL?

    Wait – you say that tomato picking in FL is actually the best available job for those who currently have it (as is every job that every individual holds). Then maybe it’s not such a bad position.

    But of course some dumbass grad student majoring in philosophy and social justice, who has never created anything before in his life, knows best how to distribute goods and income.

  4. If I were TJs I would just stop selling Tomatos until the little pricks found another cause to BULLY people on. If they really cared they would just send all of their personal money to the farmers. But they really do not care about anyone or thing. WHY would they picket a TJs in California when we get our tomatos from everywhere else BUT FLORIDA? Are they really that completely STUPID? What MORONS.
    OR, Just jack up the price of tomatos and KEEP IT! The only people getting screwed by the protesting pansy s are the people that shop at TJs!. I would totally blame the pansys for the jacked up price and buy them somewhere else where the price is cheaper.

    This is the price of having a business where all of the leftist hate mongers dwell. Close up shop and find a community that actually will appreciate you TJs!

  5. So what happens when consumers stop buying tomatoes because they are too expensive? I guess the farm workers lose their jobs. Thanks, you’ve been a big help.

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