It’s rare that I know exactly where my produce comes from unless I buy it at the farmer’s market or pick it myself. And until recently, I didn’t understand the problems behind that.
Unknowingly, I have supported slavery in the U.S. by purchasing tomatoes. Nicole, from The Giving Table, brought this into light for me. And today, she’s hosting Food Bloggers for Slave-Free Tomatoes to bring more awareness to this issue. (Click here for the list of food bloggers participating.)
Slavery is not just happening overseas. Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Molloy once called Florida’s tomato fields “ground zero” for modern-day slavery in the United States. In the past 15 years, over 1,000 people have been freed from slavery in U.S. tomato fields.” —International Justice Mission (IJM)
It’s hard to fathom this happens today. (Read Antonio’s story.) And yet, there’s hope for change.
Recipe for Change–a campaign led by International Justice Mission in partnership with the Fair Food Standards Council and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers–is targeting three major supermarket chains this summer (Ahold, Publix and Kroger’s), and asking its CEOs to support the Fair Food Program. Corporations that join agree to pay a small price increase for fairly harvested tomatoes (1.5 cents more per pound), and promise to shift purchases to the Florida tomato growers who abide by these higher standards–and away from those who won’t.
Major fast food companies, like McDonald’s and Subway, have already endorsed the Fair Food Program, but the largest U.S. supermarket chains have yet to support this collaborative effort to eradicate modern-day slavery. —International Justice Mission (IJM)
Call to Action
We’ve all sat through an economics class and learned about the relationship between supply and demand. And we know consumers hold significant power. We can choose what we buy and don’t buy. Therefore, we can choose to buy slave-free tomatoes (which can currently be purchased from Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, CSA, and farmer’s markets). We have the power to alter the demand.
But more than that, we can petition the CEOs of major supermarkets and ask them to choose slave-free tomatoes by joining theFair Food Program. Send a pre-written email. Add your voice. Flood their in-boxes. And make a change.
Sometimes it’s hard to fathom we can actually make a change. But I think we can. The only way we’ll know is if we try.
Another simple summer recipe, this time made with summer’s fresh offspring. But this recipe is different. It has more power than just making summer easier, it has the power to make a life better. It’s a recipe for change.
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 small French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (4 cups)
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 2 large, ripe slave-free tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
- 20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp. finely minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp. stone ground Dijon mustard
- 3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
- 1/2 c. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1. Make the croutons. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a large pan. Heat on medium-high heat and add cubed bread. Salt and cook until browned. Set aside.
- 2. Make vinaigrette. Add ingredients to a bowl and whisk until emulsified. Set aside.
- 3. Add vegetables and basil to a large bowl. Toss with vinaigrette, salt, and pepper. Allow to sit for 1 hour. Just before serving, toss in croutons reserving some for garnish. Panzanella is best served same day. (Croutons become soggy if they sit in the salad too long.)
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten.