Friday, February 27, 2009

New Seasons tomatoes and slavery

Yesterday, in a story on farmworker slavery back where I came from, I said I'd ask New Seasons to tell how they avoid supporting slavery in the tomato industry. Their response (minus salutation and similar stuff) is (quoted with consent):

We work hard to build relationships with the growers of our produce. While Florida remains the number one supplier of winter tomatoes, none of our tomatoes come to us from Florida. We buy local whenever we can, and during the cold months our organic tomatoes come to us from Mexico. We are just moving into early spring when California tomatoes will ripen and then Oregon’s tomatoes will arrive in full bounty as they always do.

Our growers are currently working towards Fair-trade certified tomatoes, and we hope to see those fair-trade stickers by next year. I encourage you to talk with one of our staff members about the tomatoes we have available. They will be able to steer you toward our most local options and often times tell you a little about the farms your tomatoes are coming from.

So, their Mexican tomatoes might be slave-picked, as yesterday's article noted. So could their California tomatoes, as what happens in Florida could well happen in California. How about the conditions of Oregon's produce pickers? Tomatoes from B. C.'s greenhouses?

I will ask, on my next trip to New Seasons.

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