Food Chain Sheds Light on Farm Worker Exploitation

By Dana Shultz for | photo from food chain website

There’s more interest in food now than perhaps ever before in our nation’s history. We want to know what’s in it, where it’s from, and that it’s safe.

But one topic that has yet to be widely discussed concerning food is the issue of farm worker exploitation.

People want their food, but they don’t often think about the people who pick that food and bring it to their plates. And more importantly, whether they’re were working under just conditions.

A newly-formed organization and movement called Food Chain has produced a film to shed light on this important issue:That there are currently more than 10,000 slaves in the fields in the United States, and they’re all being treated inhumanely.

Food Chain is taking it a step further, calling their treatment abject slavery. One man in the film reported that people are being shackled up at night, being killed when trying to escape, and evenbeing bought and sold for cash on the side of the road like slaves. Farm workers also typically experience abuse, including verbal threats and physical violence.

The organization points out that everyone makes money at the top – specifically grocery stores, which can gross more than $70 billion a year; but that the average farm worker makes between $40 to $50 a day for up to 14 hours of work. And what’s even more concerning is grocery stores have the power to change these conditions, though most do nothing.

The farm workers are primarily Latino, and feel they do the work Americans don’t want to do and are highly under-appreciated – and underpaid – for it. Food Chain is helping them fight for raised wages – in some cases even just one penny per pound of food they gather – to end the exploitation and improve working conditions. This small increase can mean $40 or $50 more a day for workers; and up to $80 for tomato pickers, who typically receive higher wages.

Food Chain is pushing for better rights and treatment for farm workers, and recognition that farm slavery is unacceptable. They want farm workers to be recognized as human beings, and treated as such. And we think that’s a worthy cause.

To become a part of the movement, visit for more information. You can also donate to their Kickstarter to help raise funds for the important work they’re doing nationwide.

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Terry Vanderbush
Terry V5 years ago

Thank you

Carmen S.
Carmen S5 years ago

thanks for sharing this, great that Food Chain is doing the work they are doing

Rachel P.
Rachel k5 years ago

Just another reason to protect domestic workers rights. The people that work the hardest are the least compensated, not cool!

Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

thanks for sharing

Teresa Cowley
Teresa Cowley5 years ago

Sorry, I "clicked" too soon!
This, as we have learned (thank you Care2) is called "speedup"--more work done by workers results in more money made, which goes right to the "bosses"!
So, workers are now all in this mess together and need to work together to make things better for us all.

Teresa Cowley
Teresa Cowley5 years ago

I applaud Food Chain for helping farm workers, who have been routinely mistreated and given short shrift, taking jobs that no one else wants, and barely being paid at all, much less a "living wage"...and what happens if the worker becomes ill, or gets injured? I can guarantee you that they don't get a company-paid doctor visit with prescriptions and bedrest to follow!
Regardless of where they come from, every WORKER in America has the right to a living wage and free medical care. If an "illegal" is working an honest job in this country, they should be welcome.
In this turbulent economic time, many workers across America are preforming two and three times their (once) normal job-load, for the same pathetic pay--if they complain, theey are fired. This, as we hav learned (

Martha Clunie
Past Member 5 years ago

More people need to be aware of the true cost of their food. Farm workers, especially seasonal, have never had a fair crack of the whip but this is truly appalling! These people are often migrant and illegal so they cannot stand up and report what is happening, this is where Food Chain comes into it's own, Well done! But until consumers really understand that cheaply produced and sold food has it's price these problems will remain!

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran5 years ago


Jennifer P.
Jennifer P5 years ago

Thanks for bring this to Care2's attention.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 5 years ago