Food News

Trader Joe's Says "Ef You!" to Florida Tomato Pickers, Middle Class Eats the Most Fast Food, and More

Each week, we cull eclectic stories from the internets so you don't have to. 

1. Author of Tomatoland Barry Estabrook reports that a 20-year-old labor-rights group representing tomato pickers in southwestern Florida marched to Trader Joe's headquarters in Los Angeles to ask execs to work with the group to address labor issues in the fields: "Seven cases of slavery involving more than 1,200 workers in Florida agriculture, including tomato workers, have been successfully prosecuted," notes Estabrook. 

The group asked the company, with 360-plus stores, to consider the following request:
To pay one penny more per pound for tomatoes harvested by the workers (the difference between $50 and $80 a day for a worker) and insist that growers who sell to them abide by a code of conduct that mandates no slavery or sexual harassment in the fields, accurate timekeeping, a grievance procedure, first-aid training for workers, and tents to provide a bit of shade. Complying with the agreement would cost the billion-dollar company about $30,000 a year. 

Religious leaders and participants in the protest said representatives from the company locked them out, ordered them to disperse, and crumpled the letters. The  VP of marketing at Trader Joe's says the events were misrepresented, calling their demonstration "street theater." Read the account here

2. The "lower rungs" of the middle class is allegedly the largest group of people to devour fast food, reports Good. "According to researchers from the University of California at Davis, the sweet spot for fast-food franchises are upwardly mobile consumers moving from the lowest income bracket to the middle one." People who make more than $60K -- or those who don't count themselves among the single drunks looking for Taco Bell after last call -- are less likely to eat it. 

3. Despite the ubiquity of lobster, they're coming from waaaay north: Long Island lobstermen say they can no longer make a living. Warmer water temperatures and overfishing are the causes for low catches, say scientists, who say lobster fishing for the future there is "doomed," reports Huffington Post

4. This week's New Yorker profile on chef Sean Brock of Husk and McCrady's in Charleston, South Carolina, is fascinating. He joins chefs, botanists, and various activists who are compelled by culinary conservation in his area."These were the real locavores," writes Burkhard Bilger. "This was where food was generated."

Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Facebook and on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Food Critic
Contact: Melissa McCart