Saturday, October 25, 2014

New and Significant Documentary: Food Chains

I am writing this post from LAX, on my way home from the UCLA-Harvard Law School Food Law & Policy Conference.  It was an excellent conference, bringing together food law scholars and policy experts from across the world.  There were many highlights, including a fantastic key note address by Dr. David Kessler.  Special thanks go to Michael Roberts, Director of the Resnick Program for Food Law & Policy for his work in pulling together such an excellent event.

One aspect of the conference provided a unique opportunity.  After the substantive sessions, conference participants were treated to a private screening of the new film Food Chains followed by a panel discussion that included the film's Director, Sanjay Rawal.  I recommend this film highly to anyone involved in agricultural law, food law, or interested in our food system.

Food Chains is the story of farmworkers in America, through the lens of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in Southern Florida.  Their courage and the successes they have achieved is a story of human dignity and hope.  But, their struggles continue to be daunting.

As the film's website notes, "[t]here is more interest in food these days than ever, yet there is very little interest in the hands that pick it."  Daniel Rothenberg expressed a similar theme in his description of the underworld of agricultural labor in his phenomenal book, With These Hands: The Hidden World of Migrant Farmworkers Today. When I have taught my Agricultural Labor Law class, I have always assigned this book.  In recent years, a few students have questioned whether the types of abusive labor practices described in the book could still be prevalent. The book was first written in that late 1990's and published in paperback in 2000.  While I tell them that little has changed, Food Chains makes the point in a way that I could never do on my own.  And, it does so with documented personal stories from the workers themselves as they battle for a better life -  and for the rights that most workers take for granted.

Food Chains is now being screened at locations across the country. It will be released nationwide November 21st.  Information about screenings and the release is available on the film website and on its Facebook page.

I encourage everyone to view this important film.  It tells the back story of something that touches us all -  the fruit and vegetables we eat.  Every time we order a salad, have a hamburger with a slice of tomato on it, or enjoy fruit on our morning cereal - we should consider the workers who provided us with the produce we enjoy. They deserve a safe working environment and a living wage.  All too often today, they have neither.  Food Chains is, in effect, a sequel to the landmark documentary, Harvest of Shame. It is tragic that so little has changed.  As a society, we need to ask why and to finally fix the problem.  Food Chains is an important first step.

And our event occurred appropriately on World Food Day,  a related milestone was announced as well -  the CIW revealed its new food label.

2 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

Thanks, Susan! The film is informative and moving. I encourage all to see.

10/29/2014 11:24 AM  
Anonymous Fredericos said...

Just watched the movie, great!

11/04/2014 4:01 AM  

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