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Sean Sellers' Posts

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Is that spelled 'traitor' or 'trader'?

Why is Trader Joe’s short-changing farmworker justice?

Hey Trader Joe's: respect the people who harvest the food you sell. Photo: Scott RobertsonOver the past two decades, Trader Joe's has grown rapidly as bargain-hunting foodies swarmed into its outlets. The chain now runs more than 350 stores with sales topping $8 billion in 2009. The secret to its dazzling success? Fortune magazine describes the retailer as "an offbeat, fun discovery zone that elevates food shopping from a chore to a cultural experience." Equally important, Trader Joe's business model is based on offering a limited selection of high-quality products at very low prices. By restricting its inventory, it's able …

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Slavery in your salsa?

To establish 'integrity,' Chipotle Grill needs to stand against farmworker abuse

Chipotle Mexican Grill's public image hinges on its claim to serving "Food With Integrity" -- a campaign that has made it one of the most successful and lucrative chain restaurants in the United States. The "integrity" slogan implies not only high standards for ecological sustainability and animal welfare, but also a deep regard for social justice. You might think that such a company would be at the forefront of efforts to rid the U.S. food system of exploitative working conditions and outright slavery. Yet while Chipotle has instituted bold policies to promote animal welfare in its supply chain as well …

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Fair food fight

Chipotle Challenge: time to back up ‘food with integrity’

Don't bite the hand that feeds you. Editor's note: Trace the history of the food on your plate, and you're likely to find worker abuse. Creating a truly fair food system will be a massive challenge--and not without conflicts. In the spirit of airing those conflicts with the hope of moving forward, we present a piece critical of Chipotle Grill by Sean Sellers of Just Harvest USA. --Tom Philpott ---------------------- "Of course I'm not in favor of slavery! But signing an agreement [with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers] does not actually change those conditions for farmworkers," Steve Ells, CEO of …

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Open Letter to Editors of 'The Nation'

‘Nation’ misses golden opportunity to highlight workers’ voices

The food movement is slowly waking up to the fact that it has long treated the workers who plant and pick our food as if they were invisible. So it was with great anticipation that I read The Nation's food issue, sure that a magazine with such a solid commitment to worker dignity would drive home the message that human and labor rights are integral to true sustainability. Instead, I found the same tired recipe of chefs, celebrity analysts, and pro forma discussions of family farms and urban food access. This simply makes no sense in light of the well-documented …

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No justice, no sustainability

‘Time’ was right about cheap food–but forgot farmworkers

The widely read recent Time cover story "Getting Real about the High Price of Cheap Food" is a useful complement to current discussions about our food system. It offers further evidence of the mainstreaming of ideas and practices that were considered radical or irrelevant a mere decade ago. But the author errs by avoiding any mention of the three million farm laborers who pick our fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, this omission is not simply limited to one article. Rather the idea that farmworkers somehow exist apart from our food system routinely comes across as the conventional wisdom framing many discussions …

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