Is Trader Joe’s Using Slave Labor?
Trader Joe’s Buys Tomatoes Picked With Slave Labor
Trader Joe’s is cool. It is hip. Everyone wants the store in their neighborhood.
Here at the Faster Times, we have explored the ambiguities behind the Trader Joe’s image. From an investigation by Amy Westervelt into the company’s private label business:
“You’d hear stories about it all the time, this small producer who was basically putting all their eggs in the Trader Joe’s basket and then they wouldn’t be able to shave another penny or two off their price and the order would be pulled and the company would be ruined,” says Jeff Porter, a former buyer for Andronico’s Markets [a local chain of gourmet food stores in Northern California] and current Wine Director for Mario Battali’s Osteria Mozza in L.A.
“But it’s hard for companies to sell to Trader Joe’s and anybody else,” Porter continues. “First, Trader Joe’s doesn’t like them to, and second, other stores didn’t like them to either. They know they can’t compete with Trader Joe’s prices.”
Quality food at a cheaper price is okay by me. As I’ve written in previous investigation posts, though, what doesn’t sit quite right is the lack of transparency …
But does Trader Joe’s go beyond opaqueness into real darkness? Absolutely, according to the Human Trafficking blog at Change.org:
Trader Joe’s refuses to take one very critical progressive step and join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) Campaign for Fair Food. And because of their refusal, you might just be buying slave-picked produce from those friendly, Hawaiian shirt-wearing joes.
Modern-day slavery is a reality for many farm workers right here in the U.S. In Florida, over 1,000 people have beenidentified as trafficked in fields and on farms, picking the food we eat every day.
And when you follow the links, you get to the Campaign for Fair Food website, and you find out that companies like McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Whole Foods and Subway all joined the campaign. And you get quotes like this from a federal prosecutor calling Florida “ground zero for modern day slavery.” More from the site:
Like textile workers at the turn of the last century, Florida tomato harvesters are still paid by the piece. The average piece rate today is 50 cents for every 32-lbs of tomatoes they pick, a rate that has remained virtually unchanged since 1980. As a result of that stagnation, a worker today must pick more than 2.25 tons of tomatoes to earn minimum wage in a typical 10-hour workday — nearly twice the amount a worker had to pick to earn minimum wage thirty years ago, when the rate was 40 cents per bucket. Most farmworkers today earn less than $12,000 a year.
Trader Joe’s has a decent record at caving into environmental demands. Its corporate image almost dictates it. Yes, the company is the target of a campaign here. Yes, our agricultural economy is based all around on exploiting low-paid immigrant workers. But it is a shame that they have to be pressured, that they do not live up to their image from the beginning.
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes
- 1 Brooklyn Man Now Living Entirely Off Own Beard Garden
- 2 “Cra Cra” Now Official Diagnosis in New DSM (DSM-5)
- 3 OfficeMax Marketing Director Struggling to Make Staplers ‘Sexy’ and ‘Conversational’
- 4 First Openly Straight Figure Skater Comes Forward
- 5 Area Man Tailors Life To Be More Relevant To His Hulu Advertisements
- 6 Fan Banging Furiously on Glass Could Be the Difference in Hockey Playoffs
- 7 Survey: 88% of Eagles Fans Too Drunk To Spell Nnamdi Asomugha Last Season
- 8 Attorney Actually Starting to Believe Own Bullshit
- 9 Homeless Guy Woos Silicon Valley VCs with Low-Tech Crowdfunding Strartup
- 10 Local Mom Won’t Stop Being First Person to Like Every Goddamn Thing Son Posts to Facebook