Human suffering should never be an ingredient:
No one should starve working to provide us with the food we eat.
As consumers in America, we have the power to stop our supermarkets from exploiting international workers. We convinced chocolate companies to avoid child labor and cereal manufacturers to stop land grabs. Now, we need to tell supermarkets such as Whole Foods, Giant Foods, and Kroger to stop buying from exploitative suppliers.
Through Oxfam America's "Behind the Barcodes" campaign, we know that unfortunately, when it comes to the seafood many Americans consume, some national grocery stores chains are buying from suppliers who pay so little that their workers’ own families go hungry. Oxfam interviewed a number of employees who worked for such suppliers. Their harrowing accounts of brutal work environments include humiliation, infection, dismemberment, and even death. Women are forced to take pregnancy tests and are discharged if pregnant. Employees are routinely forced to risk their personal health as they work extremely long hours to meet steep targets. Injury, including dismemberment, is commonplace, especially on fishing boats. Even death is not out of the question in such conditions, as employees who fall from boats can easily be left behind.
Questions of wage and working conditions are complicated, but some grocery chains have taken meaningful steps to address these problems. Other chains like Whole Foods, Giant Foods, and Kroger, however, can do much more. The supermarkets that bring us our food should not require the workers who make that food risk life and limb to do so. We have a responsibility to insure that our comfort does not place lives in jeopardy.
For more information, check out Oxfam's resources to learn more about the issue, read the workers' stories and see how your supermarket ranked. You can also watch the video here. Then please share with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.