The widely-acclaimed activist organization, the CIW (Coalition of Immokalee Workers) gets its due in the U.S. Food Chains, a documentary highlighting the organization’s fight for humane labor practices, opens in select cities and theaters this week.

The hype around food – how it’s grown, where it comes from, and how it’s transported – has been both a societal and documentary filmmaking focus over the last decade. Food Chains shifts the focus to the more humanitarian concern of who is behind our food.

“We know our economy is stronger when we reward an honest day’s work with honest wages. Let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.”

– President Barack Obama

The film trails a six-day hunger strike by tomato farm workers in Immokalee, Florida organized in a Publix parking lot. Through the Fair Food Program, the CIW has gained the support of mega fast food and grocery chains committing to paying a penny more per pound of tomatoes and eschewing farms accused of labor violations. Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, McDonalds, the YUM Brands, Chipotle, Burger King, Aramark, Compass Group, Bon Appetit, Sodexo, and Subway have signed and upheld this promise, while retailers including Wendy’s, Publix, Safeway, and Kroger have refused to join the movement.

Farm worker abuse including sexual harassment, assault, pesticide poisoning, hunger, and wage theft has been reported and documented repeatedly on Florida farms. CIW supporters are making a stand for human rights, fair pay and healthy working conditions. They’re making a stand for themselves and for their children’s future. 

… “What we bring with the Fair Food Program is not another model of corporate social responsibility…. The goal is to address human rights and labor rights that exist in the fields. The creation of the program comes directly from the participation of the workers in the program and the ideas of our community. That’s what we call worker-led social responsibility.”

– Cesar Chavez, United Farm Workers of America co-founder (via The Washington Post)

Produced by actress and activist Eva Longoria, and author Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), the film has made it to film festivals around the world including the 2014 Berlin Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival, and the Guadalajara Film Festival.

Schlosser reveals the brutal reality of our food system that has long been ignored by a 4 trillion dollar grocery industry.

“The defendants have been accused of beating them, locking them inside trailers, chaining them to a pole. These abuses are un-American, they are unacceptable, and they must stop.”

– Eric Schlosser

Check out this important film in a theater near you this week to join Chavez and the Fair Food movement in taking a stand for farm workers’ rights. Go to FoodChains.com to sign the Fair Food pledge and to speak out against farm worker abuse.


Jamie Penn is a purposeful marketing strategist, mother of three, a writer, and a social media junkie. She was an environmentalist before it was cool; loves mothering, writing, travel and food; refuses to follow recipes; and voraciously researches, writes about, and assists in video production for the companies consumers trust.

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