There is so much interest in food, yet no interest in the hands that pick that food
As consumers are increasingly asking for food chains transparency, widespread labour abuses are being documented in Northern Mexico, in Washington State and more recently in Australia too. Connecting the field to the grocery store seems to be the best means to bring back labour rights for farm workers (often times migrant) feeding us year-round.
Two paradigms have emerged. On the one hand an urge for a sustainable food system and on the other hand, boycotts and strikes revealing a food system which is socially sustainable is extremely challenged.
And closer to home…
Locally, challenges are also very perceptible. Every year, almost 10,000 mostly immigrant and migrant workers carry out a range of tasks in support of British Columbia’s horticultural industry. This workforce, which is so essential to this industry, to the families and communities that derive their livelihood from horticulture, and to the safety and quality of BC fruits and vegetables, comprises one of the lowest paid, least protected, and most vulnerable occupational categories in the province. Agriculture is also among the most dangerous jobs.
The modes by which immigrant and migrants are incorporated into the labour market construct them as highly vulnerable workers, particularly in terms of health and safety.
To what extent can we claim our food system to be sustainable?
What needs to be implemented to reach social sustainability in our food system, both locally and globally?