Discovery Organics | SAVE THE DATE! June 5th
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Discovery Organics is organizing a panel discussion about Farm Working conditions this coming June 5th at 6pm downtown Vancouver and hope you can join! It should be a great learning opportunity for our customers, staff and partners, offering a different angle from ours.

“Arrests as Mexico farming wage strike turns violent” Aljazeera – May 12th                                                            

… “Farmworkers in Baja California protest low pay, poor conditions”

… “Many laborers stayed away from the fields Tuesday and hundreds spilled onto the highway, where they barricaded the road and burned tires.” LA Times – March 18th                      

…”Labour exploitation, slave-like conditions found on farms supplying biggest supermarkets” – ABC News Australia – May 7th

Here are just a few examples of the headlines we’ve seen in the media in the past few months.

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 social 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.

(Extract from Farmworker Health and Safety: Challenges for British Columbia – G. Otero, SFU and K. Preibisch, U of Guelph).

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?

For more, watch Product of Mexico – Behind the Scenes video

About the speakers:

David Fairey has an MA in Labour Economics from the University of British Columbia. He has been a Labour Research Economist and Labour Relations Consultant in BC for over 30 years, and Director of the Trade Union Research Bureau since 1989. David is now the director of Labour Consulting Services and is also a CCPA–BC research associate.

Colette Cosner is the executive director of the Domestic Fair Trade Association—a coalition of stakeholders throughout the US and Canadian food and farming systems dedicated to health, justice, and sustainability. Originally from the east coast, Colette moved to Seattle in 2009 to work for YES! Magazine. Since then she has served as the Regional Organizer of Witness for Peace Northwest, the Communications Association for Cultivate Impact, and a board member for the Washington Fair Trade Coalition. She is the co-author of “Farmers at the Table: Connecting Food and Trade Justice.”

Gerardo Otero is professor of Sociology and Latin American Studies at Simon Fraser University. He is the author or editor of four books and dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters. His new edited book is Food for the Few: Neoliberal Globalism and the Biotechnology Revolution in Latin America, published in 2008 by The University of Texas Press.

Fr. Patrick Murphy is the director of Casa del Migrante, a house of hospitality in Tijuana where migrants receive room and board as well as medical assistance and orientation regarding migrant issues. Fr. Pat has been a member of the Missionaries of St. Charles – The Scalabrians since his first profession. During the course of his seminary formation, Fr. Patrick had the opportunity to live both in Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Mark Thompson is a professor of Social Sciences at the Sauder School of Business at UBC. He teaches Industrial Relations in the Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources Division. His research interests involve but are not limited to the impact of NAFTA labour accords and the management of industrial relations. He has published numerous scholarly articles, book chapters and papers on industrial relations, collective bargaining and occupational health and safety.

Please RSVP to Julie Sage, Discovery Organics Fairtrade Certification and Marketing Director:   

For event location please visit The Profile’s website

Photo credit: Don Bartletti – LA Times

Further reading:

Agreement may unravel on wage hike ending Baja farmworkers strike – LA Times – June 3, 2015

Arrests as Mexico farming wage strike turns violent – Aljazeera – May 12, 2015

Farmers in Baja California protest low pay, poor conditions – LA Times – March 18, 2015

Labour exploitation, slave-like conditions found on farms supplying biggest supermarkets – ABC News Australia – May 7, 2015

The struggle for Fairness at Sakuma Brothers – Fair World Project – March 31, 2015

Greek court fines migrant strawberry pickers who were shot at for demanding pay – The independent – June 4, 2015

VIDEO Message from DFTA farmworkers – May 9, 2015

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