By EDubya/Flickr

Slavery in the produce aisle

By EDubya/Flickr


And here, you thought that a bad tomato or E. coli in your spinach was the worst that you might have in mind when you’re next skipping down the produce aisle.


You may now think of slave labor, too.

Ok. If it’ll help you chomp more easily that State of Washington Granny Smith or suck that Hawaiian pineapple spear with more gusto, let’s say ”near-slavery.”

The Associated Press reports that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing farms in those states who used workers supplied by farm labor contractor Global Horizons, Inc. for engaging in what it calls the “largest human trafficking case in the nation’s agricultural industry.” ¬†Apparently, GHI imported more than 200 Thais to work their farms, confiscated passports, leaving workers stateless and without recourse, threatening to deport them as criminals were they to complain about conditions. And you may safely bet that none of these people ever heard of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union.

If you’re the kind to look at labels, here are the companies who the lawsuits charge ¬†participated in the human trafficking and intimidation:

. Captain Cook Coffee
. Del Monte
. Kauai Coffee Company
. Kelena Farms
. MacFarms of Hawaii
. Maui Pineapple
. Valley Fruit Orchards
. Green Acres Farms (I’m not kidding.)

I realise that looking a lot at labels can spoil the usual fun ‘n frolic of the supermarket and can even put a crimp into co-opping. I urge you, nonetheless, to look.



4 thoughts on “Slavery in the produce aisle”

  1. Well, I’ve been a label reader since …long time ago! ;-) That’s how I’ve found, for instance, that Benzene (and other derivatives) was the cause of the nausea and the tremendous headache I felt when a house maid (I was 18 then) decided to use a cleaning product that made my mom and myself feel really bad while she kept happily saying that it was quite an efficient product, that cleaned it all ‘so easily’ ! I read the label and there it was: Benzene! I knew that it could cause serious problems to one’s health, being a carcinogen substance. I also knew that it had already been vetoed in the US and in some European countries.
    So I decided to do something about it: I went to the supermarket and urged the manager to file my complaint and get rid of the harmful product! (oh well, I was a true believer back then, and a real ‘pain’… hehehe). Even called Procter & Gamble ‘s office here in Brazil.
    Now, they do not print the word ‘Benzeno’ anymore, or any other dangerous substance for that matter, on their labels. The words have turned into IIV, ILM, Vii, or whatever bunch of letters they come up with to hide what’s really inside the product; letters that mean nothing to most people, and yet can kill just the same! Tough fight this is!
    Miriam – Rio de Janeiro

  2. Miriam–Thanks so much for this! Brazil does need labeling laws that serve consumers’ and not corporate interests!

  3. I’m surprised and I’m not surprised at Del Monte. Big corporations for years have been taking advantage, I believe, of slave-type labor. But you’d think a company like this would no better-apparently not. This is the part of me that is not surprised.
    Thanks and keep bringing these hidden truths out.

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