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“We need to understand every time you eat something you are eating the story behind that food.” – Josh Viertel

On Wednesday, SFUSA President Josh Viertel went in search of that story. He joined a group of leaders from national food organizations on a tour of Immokalee, Florida, the epicenter of this country’s industrial tomato industry. As reported on several Florida TV stations and news outlets up and down the Eastern seaboard, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) led their visitors on an up-close tour of the dismal working and living conditions of the people who pick nearly 90 percent of the tomatoes eaten in the US.

Josh was quoted in the Naples Daily News saying: “This movement has been missing something fundamentally important. Today we are making that connection…Historically this movement has focused on the environment, health and preserving small farms. But we’ve completely missed the boat when it comes to work. Farmworkers need to be part of this movement.

CIW and their Campaign for Fair Food has had many victories in the past year (which you can read about here on our blog, over at Gourmet in Barry Estabrook’s excellent piece, as well as Tom Philpott’s coverage over at Grist; their most recent efforts are aimed at the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, who are blocking the penny per pound increase, as well as at Florida Governor Crist, who has refused to pursue federal slavery prosecutions, or even acknowledge the conditions in Immokalee as “slavery.”

To sign CIW’s petition to Governor Crist, click here.

To read coverage in the Fort Meyers news-press, in which Slow Food Southwest Florida chapter leader Rose O’Dell King is quoted, click here.

To read author Raj Patel’s take on the visit, click here.

For an article called “Why the Slow Food Movement Needs to Help Stop America’s Slave Labor,” click here.