By Barry Estabrook, posted on Zester Daily
Would you pay one penny more per pound to buy a tomato if you knew it would go a long way toward alleviating labor abuse in the fields?
When asked that question, not a single supermarket chain in the country, with the notable exception of Whole Foods Market, said yes.
No grocery giant has a legitimate excuse to pinch that extra penny, but of all the holdouts, the most perplexing is Trader Joe’s, which promotes itself as a cheerful bastion of all things ethical.
A penny-a-pound wage increase might seem insignificant, but if you harvest Florida tomatoes, it’s the difference between making $50 a day and $80 a day — the difference between a wage that doesn’t allow you to properly feed and shelter your family and a livable, albeit paltry, income. “It’s the difference between a 19th-century workhouse and a modern factory,” said one member of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a human rights group based in southwestern Florida that has long struggled on behalf of farmworkers…