Thursday, March 24, 2011

Radical Agrarianism 5

If you're in the middle Tennessee area and are interested in either the practice or politics of agriculture, this upcoming weekend is for you!  First, on Friday, March 25th from 9 am to 4 pm, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers will display the Mobile Slavery Museum at the edge of Alumni Lawn on the Vanderbilt Campus.  At 5:30 pm that same day, join workers from the C.I.W. and Rev. James Lawson in Benton Chapel for a round-table discussion on "The Politics of the Lunch Counter."  Both events are free and open to the public.  Below is the flier for the events, after which is some background information on both.  
Mobile Slavery Museum:
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers comes out of a community of low-wage tomato pickers of Haitian, Mayan, and Mexican descent.  Many speak different languages, and many are highly mobile--moving throughout the country during the agricultural season.  They work in a region of Florida that supplies 90% of the nation's tomatoes, and has been called "ground zero for modern-day slavery' by the U.S. Dept. of Labor.  And yet the CIW has not only helped prosecute slavery cases in the region, they have also pressured food giants to help end exploitative conditions in the fields.  McDonalds, Burger King, Sodexo, and six other global corporations have signed with the CIW to pass on a penny per pound of tomatoes directly to farmworkers, and ensure that their tomatoes are sourced responsibly. 

With these successes already in place, the CIW is currently targeting Publix grocery stores, which has until how avoided responsibility for the conditions which bring them discount produce, stating "If there are some atrocities going on, it's not our business."

The Museum, which has been visited by former president Jimmy Carter and the U.S. Secretary of Labor, shows the region's long heritage of exploiting farm laborers--from slavery to convict labor, to current cases of slavery in Florida's fields.  But it also shows the unprecedented agreements being reached between farm-workers, farm-owners, and food corporations to end those abusive conditions.

The Politics of the Lunch Counter:
A group of migrant farm-workers from some of the most exploitative working conditions in the country are fighting an abusive food system--and they're winning. To cap off the day-long exhibition of their award-winning Museum of Modern-Day Slavery, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers will be joined by Reverend James Lawson, one of the original architects of the Civil Rights Movement lunch counter sit-ins to reflect on food politics in America.

Second, on Saturday March 26th is the annual meeting of the Tennessee Organic Grower's Association, which includes farm tours on Friday and a conference on Saturday.  For the interested, here's the press release, conference schedule, workshop descriptions

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