Pear in Mind: A blog in the public interest
Look for “Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured” produce, this week and beyond
This week, before adding berries to my morning oatmeal or taking my first bite of salad for lunch, I’m taking a pause and sending gratitude to the farmworkers who harvested this food. I’m also seeking out produce with the Equitable Food Initiative label, which tells me that my produce is “Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured.”
What does this label mean, and where can you find it? Why take action during Farmworker Awareness Week? Read on!
Why recognize farmworkers?
Farmworkers play a vital role in getting fresh, healthy food onto supermarket shelves. Nearly 2.5 million farmworkers are on farms and ranches in the United States, performing difficult, skilled labor. Yet these workers often face dangerous conditions, low wages, and unfair treatment.
Improving conditions for farmworkers starts with raising awareness. Here are some of the facts:
- The average annual wage for agricultural workers was $28,900 in 2020, which was about $13,000 less than the median salary for all occupations
- According to Farmworker Justice, 1 out of every 3 farmworker families earns income below the federal poverty line despite often working long days up to 6 days per week
- Dozens of states have minimum wage laws that exempt some or all farmworkers, and overtime pay laws that do not cover farmworkers
- Farmworkers often face hazardous conditions such as extreme heat, and have the highest rate of occupational heat-related fatalities of any industry
- Farmworkers also suffer high rates of pesticide-related illnesses, including acute poisonings and chronic conditions including cancer and birth defects
National Farmworker Awareness Week is a week of action that occurs annually at the end of March to honor the daily contributions farmworkers make to our food system.
What does the “Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured” label tell me?
The “Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured” seal indicates that the produce comes from a farm participating in the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI). EFI is a non-profit organization working to transform agriculture and improve the lives of farmworkers. The organization partners with growers of fresh fruits and vegetables who want to improve communication and create collaborative work environments that recognize the value of all staff.
Produce with the “Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured” label comes from farms that have met EFI’s 300+ rigorous standards for fair labor practices, food safety, and responsible pest management. When you buy EFI-labeled produce, you can rest assured that the workers harvesting your produce are treated well and compensated fairly.
CSPI has proudly served on the executive board of EFI since 2015, alongside stakeholders from the grower and retailer sectors, as well as groups representing farmworkers, including United Farm Workers, Farmworker Justice, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, and Farm Labor Organizing Committee.
As an increasing number of farms and brands partner with EFI, CSPI is excited to help spread the word and build consumer support for the label. Consumers can demand that their local supermarkets offer produce from farms where workers are treated right. For retailers, this means sourcing from farms that are transparent about their labor practices, including EFI-certified farms.
Where can I find produce with the “Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured” label?
Fresh fruits and vegetables with EFI’s “Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured” label can currently be found at Costco and Whole Foods Market on brands including NatureSweet Tomatoes, Misionero, GoodFarms, Stemilt, Windset Farms, and more. You can find a full list of EFI-certified farms here: https://equitablefood.org/efi-certified-farms/.
Help EFI improve the lives of farmworkers by looking for “Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured” produce during Farmworker Awareness Week and beyond!