Monday, October 25, 2010

Five Things You Don't Know About SUPERMARKETS!

From Beijing to Brighton, billions of people now can't imagine life without supermarkets. But what forces push us, as we push our carts?

1. Supermarkets rule the food chain.

A century ago, the companies that dominated the global food trade -- Cargill, Louis Dreyfus, Continental Grain, and Bunge -- were wholesalers. Today, these giants are dwarfed by the supermarkets that govern the global food system from farm to fork. Walmart, the world's largest retailer, has sales greater than 2 percent of U.S. GDP and, with 2.1 million greeters, stock clerks, and logistics officers working at its 8,416 stores from Shenzhen to Shreveport, ranks among the largest employers worldwide -- only China's army has more people on its payroll. Supermarkets first jumped to the developing world in the 1990s; now they account for more than half of food retail sales in Latin America and China.

2. But this doesn't mean we're all eating the same stuff.

The success in Asia of Carrefour, the French giant superstore chain, didn't come because the famously lactose-intolerant East suddenly developed a hankering for brie. Unlike, say, McDonald's, supermarkets don't simply impose the cultural prejudices of their home countries on others -- Walmarts in Beijing stock live tortoises for turtle soup and proudly tout moisturizer made with sheep placenta (a fabled wrinkle reducer). But supermarkets are big factors in what epidemiologists call the nutrition transition: Local, fresh food is losing out to processed goods that tend to be higher in salt, fats, and sugar -- and far more profitable for retailers. The result? Dramatically rising rates of obesity everywhere.

3. When it comes to surveillance, the CIA has nothing on supermarkets.

The first supermarket, King Piggly Wiggly in Memphis, Tennessee, guided the shoppers of 1916 through a maze of chicken-wire aisles until they had passed every available item and reached the checkout. Today's supermarket Big Brothers are much more sophisticated: Modern technologies such as radio-frequency identification tagging and data-mining -- Walmart's database is second only in capacity to the Pentagon's -- are used to monitor consumer habits and maximize impulse purchases. So, it's a good bet that the Walton family knows more about the average Chinese person than CIA director Leon Panetta does. It works the other way, too: Wall Street uses spy satellites to check whether Walmart parking lots are full, a measure of the strength of U.S. retail.

4. Supermarkets don't like poor people.

When the first Carrefours and Tescos landed in Southeast Asia and Latin America, they picked locations in the toniest parts of Bangkok and Buenos Aires. Supermarkets have high costs -- an average store stocks tens of thousands of items -- and low margins: Profit is driven by high-volume purchasing. So, these "big box" stores look for consumers with cars, a significant indicator of wealth in developing countries. The irony is that supermarkets are generally cheaper than other local retailers -- a box of Cheerios can be 40 percent more expensive at the bodega or the dokkan than at the megastore.

5. Variety is an illusion.

The real, evil genius of supermarkets isn't frozen lasagna -- it's the logistical empire required to move bananas from a plantation in Honduras to your local Whole Foods. Seasonal variety has been sacrificed for ease of transport, and the farms best able to provide a monotony of fruits and vegetables with bruise-resistant flesh and waxy skins have won out. Thankfully, there's a backlash: Urban farmers' markets from New York's Union Square to Tokyo's Shibuya district have mushroomed, and farmers and consumer groups are experimenting with new technologies to distribute local agriculture. These new "super-farmers'-markets" might just be the future of food.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Join a CFA Working Group!


Hello to all of our wonderful allies in the NYC area. We thank you for coming to our actions and teach-ins and supporting the Campaign for Fair Food. We know many of you have been wondering how you can get more involved with this work and now is your chance. The NYC Community Farmworker Alliance has just restructured and we now have clearly established working groups. With these new working groups there is a formalized way for you to use your talents, develop new skills, avoid going to too many long drawn out meetings, all while supporting the amazing work of the Coalition of Immokalee workers. We would love to have YOU join one of our working groups and be a part of the NYC Community Farmworker Alliance.

All you have to do is write to the contact of the group or groups you're interested in and they'll tell you all you need to know! Also, there is no set time commitment required for these working groups as some activities can take one hour, and others many months.

Please feel free to write us at if you have any questions!

Learn how to write press releases, use social media for the power of the people, correspond with press people and also do audio, video or photo documentation our awesome events. If you have multimedia communications experience we would love to have you join this group. If you are interested in acquiring these skills there will be training opportunities within this working group and you can learn to be a dope community journalist while supporting the campaign for fair food.
CONTACT: Andalusia at

Campaigns: Learn about and help us expand the NYC Campaign for Fair Food targeting the Supermarket Industry. Plan and promote actions and stay connected with national movement for fair food! Strategize and gain skills for event and action planning and building momentum!
CONTACT: Charlene at

Outreach and Education:
Work together to plan and present popular education workshops, produce bilingual Spanish and English flyers, documents and other educational materials. Make connections and develop relationships with other NYC social justice organizations to strengthen our movement at large. Great place to learn about the the CIWs work, develop presentation skills, do research and make contacts with NYC organizations !
CONTACT: Lupe at

Fundraising: Help make us some cash money to support the work of our group by holding fundraisers, writing grants and making cool merch! No experience necessary! We'll teach you the skills you need!
CONTACT: Audrey at

Organizational Development: Help plan a regional gathering of CIW allies, help orient new CFA members and plan trainings for the group to increase our skills!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CFA Benefit Show and Potluck This Saturday!

Ryan Harvey's CD RELEASE SHOW and BENEFIT for Community/Farmworker Alliance and the Civilian Soldier Alliance
Saturday, October 23, 2010 - 6:00pm - 11:30pm
at Rebel Diaz Arts Collective
[478 Austin Place, Bronx: #6 Train to E. 149 St.: walk two blocks toward the Bruckner Expressway, make a right on Austin Pl.]
Adam Obernauer (631) 252-4222

This event is a whole lotta things! First you should join us at 6 PM for a pot luck to learn more about the Community/Farmworker Alliance and how you can get involved! Then you should stick around for an awesome show that is a joint benefit for the Community/Farmworker Alliance and the Civilian Soldier Alliance. To top it all off, it's Ryan Harvey from Riot Folk's CD release show for the long anticipated "BLOWBACK" (over 2 years in the making!)


Ryan Harvey [1]

Born in a Cent [2]

Bell's Roar [3]

Saturday, October 16, 2010

CIW Mega-Victory and Community Farmworker Alliance NYC retreat update


This week is one of great celebrating in Immokalee and for all allies of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers! One of the largest tomato growers: Pacific Growers has signed on to work with the CIW. This is a huge step in the Campaign for Fair Food! Even the freaking Wall Street Journal is covering this!

The CIW also launched their new supermarket campaign with a must-view video highlighting the relationships between the tomatoes in your grocery store and farmworker exploitation.

On the heels of this amazing victory in Immokalee, Community/Farmworker Alliance NYC is excited to announce the major developments that came out of an all-day strategy retreat last weekend!

At this much-needed retreat, we set some dates for upcoming actions and events. Importantly, we also set up a working group structure. These working groups will make it easier for more people to be involved at levels they're interested in. The next note will have more info about how to get involved!

But, first here are upcoming important dates to mark!

October 16th
- We'll be at the Brooklyn Trader Joes at noon to give a penny to Trader Joe's cashiers and demand that they pay an extra penny per pound to their farmworkers!! Read more here!

October 23rd-
CFA fundraiser show and dance party featuring Ryan Harvey, Born in a Cent, Majesty, Bell's Roar and Dj AndaLaLucha at the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective. Come by early at 6pm for a potluck and to learn what the Community Farmworker Alliance NYC is doing and how you can get more involved. 478 Austin Place, South Bronx.

January TBD- Northeast Encuentro Meet CIW allies from across the Northeast in NYC for a weekend of discussion, learning and strategizing about the struggle for fair food and building a more just world!

February 26- GIANT ACTION with CIW members and allies from Boston to Quincy, Massachusetts to protest at Ahold (another mega-grocery chain) headquarters!

Take Care,
The Community/Farmworker Alliance NYC

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Coast to Coast Trader Joe's Actions SATURDAY!

Trader Joe's Picket for Fair Food

Saturday, October 16 · 11:00am - 12:00pm

LocationTrader Joe's (near Lake Merritt Farmers Market)
3250 Lakeshore Ave.
Oakland, CA
SLAVERY IS NOT SUSTAINABLE. And no matter how delicious organic trail mix tastes, how great it is that Trader Joe's sells some incredibly affordable food that has a more discrete environmental footprint, they continue to refuse to put an end to modern-day slavery conditions in their tomato supply chain!

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (
in partnership with the Student Farmworker Alliance ( and Just Harvest USA ( are continuing their Campaign for Fair Food, which has successfully brought 9 multi-billion dollar fast food and food service corporations - including McDonalds, Burger King and Subway - to their knees, hoping that the supermarket industry (including Trader Joe's) will also become partners in justice by signing an agreement with the CIW.

Our goals are to: 1. End modern-day slavery conditions in the fields of Florida, 2. Establish a fair wage: an increase of a mere penny per pound of tomatoes the workers harvest would double wages!, 3. Dignified working conditions, and 4. Worker participation in creating and implementing a human rights-based code of conduct.

Please join us on Saturday at 10:45 in front of Trader Joe's to meet one another, devour FREE and tasty baked goods from the Arizmendi Bakery Co-operative (, and get ready for a short and sweet picket : )

We will supply all of the materials including banners and posters, but if you would like to come hang out and make signs with us, but all means, contact me! You dont even have to know anything about the campaign to come and participate because we will be giving a mini info session before we picket.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Trader Joes Picket for Fair Food- Saturday!

Trader Joe's Brooklyn 130 Court Street. Brooklyn, NY 11201

Wear your Hawaiian Shirts!
12:00pm - 1:30pm

Join the CFA give a penny to Trader Joe's cashiers and demand that they pay an extra penny per pound to their farmworkers!! We will be wearing hawaiin shirts and outreaching to customers/community folks. We will also be supplying pennies for everyone to participate!

SLAVERY IS NOT SUSTAINABLE!! Be in solidarity with the CIW and push Trader Joe’s to join an agreement to end abuse and modern-day slavery on their farmworkers.

Farmwo...rkers picking tomatoes for Trader Joe's chain of supermarkets earn 40-50 cents for every 32-pound bucket of tomatoes they harvest—wages that have not risen since 1978. Grinding poverty leaves farmworkers vulnerable to further exploitation from employers: since 1997, over 1000 farmworkers have been freed from modern day slavery-like conditions in the Florida fields where they work.

Community/Farmworker Alliance (NYC) is a local coalition of community members that organizes in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in their Campaign for Fair food, a national movement to transform the purchasing practices of the corporate food industry in order to advance the human rights of farmworkers at the bottom of corporate supply chains. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) ( is a Florida-based, membership-led organization of low-wage workers.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (

Monday, October 11, 2010

Community/Farmworker Alliance Protest in Solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Tuesday, October 19th, 6:30pm

Hilton Garden Inn
1575 Round Swamp Road
Plainview, NY 11803

In May, Quiznos promised that it would soon be joining in agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to improve the wages and working conditions of farmworkers who pick tomatoes bought by the company. Months have now passed and it is time to hold Quiznos to its word. Until Quiznos' promises become concrete actions, we will intensify our call for justice!

Florida farmworkers who pick tomatoes are among the nation’s most exploited workers: they earn sub-poverty wages, have no right to form unions or to over-time pay, lack traditional employment benefits such as health, sick leave or pensions, and have not received a significant raise in nearly 30 years. At the current rate, a Florida tomato picker must harvest over TWO AND A HALF TONS just to earn the equivalent of minimum wage for a typical 10 hour. In the most extreme situations workers are held in modern-day slavery and forced to work against their will.

In 2001, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers - a grassroots organization of migrant farmworkers based in Florida - and their allies launched the Campaign for Fair Food, calling on retail food industry leaders to address the egregious working conditions and poverty stemming from these companies' high-volume/low-cost purchasing practices. As a result, the CIW has reached historic agreements with McDonald's, Burger King, Subway and others to directly improve farmworker wages and working conditions and set new standards for social responsibility in Florida agriculture.

Despite these breakthroughs, however, Quiznos – who profits from the exploitation of farmworkers due to the sheer volume of its tomato purchases – has yet to take responsibility. While Quiznos has begun discussions with the CIW, those talks continue to drag on without resolution. Visit for more info.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Who is Trader Joe, Anyway?

A NYC blogger and locavore writes about Trader Joe's lack of transparency...

Check it out here!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Florida Farmworkers Take Aim at Supermarket Chains for “Fair Food”

Uprising Radio Features the CIW Supermarket Campaign!

Trader Joes has become a target of the Coalition for Immokalee Workers Fair Food! campaign. The grocery store has an ever growing number of locations around the nation and it describes itself as a specialty store that carries innovative as well as basic food items. It was ranked by the business focused think-tank Ethisphere as the one of three most ethical food stores in its 2010 World’s Most Ethical Companies list. The Immokalee workers are asking Trader Joes, as well as Kroger’s, Publix, and Stop N’ Shop chains to change the way they buy tomatoes. When retailers sign CIW’s Fair Food agreement they are agreeing to take specific actions including demanding more humane labor conditions for tomato growers, and buying only from growers who meet those higher standards. Florida tomato pickers are paid by the piece and the CIW says that to earn the minimum wage a farmworker must pick more than 2 and a quarter tons of tomatoes per 10 hour work day. Over the years the Immokalee workers’ campaign has been very successful in persuading major food corporations to join, including Whole Foods, Burger King, McDonalds, and Subway. On August 20th a coalition of farmworker advocacy groups began its Trader Joes campaign with a protest outside of a Manhattan, New York location.