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Farmworkers Need Our Help

Have you heard of the Fair Food Program and the work of CIW (Coalition of Immokalee Workers)? The Fair Food Program (FFP) ensures fundamental human rights for farmworkers in the corporate supply chains of our food system. Why do farmworkers need protections? At least 6 out of 10 US farmworkers are undocumented immigrants (the actual number is probably much higher). These farmworkers pick most of our food and represent billions of dollars to our economy, yet despite their contributions, most US farmworkers live at the margins of our society and work in a system where wage theft, abuse, sexual assault, humiliation, exploitation, modern day slavery, and a fear of being detected and deported are just a part of every day life. 

All of the largest fast-food companies, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell and Chipotle, joined the FFP well over a decade ago. All except Wendy’s Restaurants!

As a result, CIW held a “Boycott Wendy’s” demonstration in Palm Beach, Florida on April 2nd. Hundreds of us marched through the city of Palm Beach, which is where billionaire and majority owner of Wendy’s Restaurants, Nelson Peltz, recently opened new corporate offices.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Boycott Wendy’s campaign is a great cause, and I was happy to join the protesters, as I met dozens of lovely and inspiring people. Unfortunately, the experience wasn’t all sunshine and roses, as the CIW/Alliance for Fair Food “leaders” were still missing some bigger idea connections, and were not really open to having a discussion. I arrived in Immokalee a day early so that I could help out, and everyone was kind and gracious. During a break, I had the pleasure of meeting a passionate young farmworker from Vermont who worked on a dairy animal factory, and through an interpreter, she explained the hardships for the farmworkers where she worked. I was humbled, and grateful for learning more about her experiences. I then shared my perspective, and acknowledged that even though I didn’t have an answer, I would like to somehow help her cause in any way that I could, while also continuing to work with other organizations to eventually shut down all animal factories. Talk about sucking the air out of the room! It was clear that the CIW leadership team was not interested in talking about animal welfare, nutrition, or the impact that Big Ag (industrial agriculture), and our food system has on our planet. Each situation is unique to some extent, and as a result may require different solutions, but our collective goals should be in finding decent jobs for the animal factory workers, while also endeavoring to shut down the animal factories. CIW and the Alliance for Fair Food are doing some excellent work and they have had a lot of success, but they are also being hypocritical and missing a huge opportunity to educate their members and supporters on the suffering and plight of factory animals, the power of plant-based nutrition, and the destructive impact that Big Ag has on our planet and our future.

You gotta love these organizations who claim to be all about justice and equality, except for when it comes to the food on their plates. Whether it’s ignorance, cognitive dissonance, Carnism, or other factors, too many of these organizations choose to ignore the elephant in the room. After I shared my thoughts with the farmworker from Vermont, things got a little chilly and I no longer felt fully welcomed by the CIW/Alliance for Fair Food “leaders”. I happily marched for farmworker justice with the many fine people of CIW the following day, and I was still feeling good up until the end of the march, where the protesters and their children were met (or punished?) with dozens of Domino’s Pizzas and all types of junk food. It was the knockout blow for me, and I said a few good-byes, and started on my journey home.

Just as the Mad Cowboy himself, Howard Lyman, once said that you can’t call yourself an environmentalist and eat animal products, I would add that you can’t call yourself a human rights organization that is centered on justice and equality, and ignore the destructive impact that animal products have on human health, animal welfare and our only planet. In fact, due to the Alliance for Fair Food and CIW’s hypocrisy and willful blindness, I will be channeling my energy and efforts in other directions for the time being. Hopefully, these two organizations will have an Aha moment soon! 

Regardless of their disappointing leadership, the farmworkers need our love, help and support. Please check out the links below for more information. 🙂

Click here for a video of the April 2nd “March to End Slavery in the Fields”.
Click on the link below to learn more about CIW.
Click on the link below to learn more about the Wendy’s Boycott, and the April 2nd march, which was held in Palm Beach, Florida. 
Click here for the “Injustice On Our Plates” report from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Click here for the powerful CBS (Edward R. Murrow) documentary “Harvest of Shame”.
Click here to learn more about the “Boycott Wendy’s” campaign.
Click here to learn more from

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