How Fair is the Food we Eat? – Food Chains that have shackles on one end

BlackI have not always bothered from where I buy food. I have not always thought where the food I buy comes from. That question has occurred, but not often enough that I felt pressured to act on it.  I have made choices between organic or not, freshness, prize, healthy reasons etc…. but where does it come from? not really.

What is the story on the other end of the food chain that binds us as human beings on the same planet? Not something I have always thought about.. Reading something today made me realize that this lack of awareness is not fair on my part and as a first step I thought I will jot down a few things and try to understand in the coming days, months and years to be more aware and fair about what I consume. I think that is a prime responsibility of every consumer.

You might know that the Thai fishing industry has been embroiled in forced labor horror stories for a while now and today you might have read about the year long investigation by Associated Press in Benjina Indonesia. You can read in detail that the fish we eat in US could be caught by people who have been chained because they are ‘flight risks’. ‘Flight Risks’ mean they might escape. Yes they do not go home after a day’s work like many of us and their work days could be as long as 22 hours and they don’t have something called ‘Freedom’. Yes it happens and here is the complete coverage… Are Slaves Catching Fish You Buy

This happens in the tiny tropical island Benjina in Indonesia. The fish they catch will then move to Thai ports and could make its way into the leading stores in US and onto our plates. So when at the end of the food chain we fry a piece of fish, it can be traced back to someone who is being treated as a slave, living in unimaginable conditions on a few bits of rice and curry in locked cages where they can just barely lie down. I know after reading this as a first step many of us might stop complaining about food we get to eat but may be there is more we can do. I am writing this so I can start looking out to be more aware about the food chain when I buy something and slowly ensure that my contribution to live goes to the right hands that feed me

And before we decide to stop buying fish we should be aware that that there are so many more food items in stores that are produced by people who have not been paid the very basic minimum to sustain. Yes including the lettuce and tomatoes and cabbage we bought because they were so cheap and since some of which we threw in the garbage because it was excess and cheap

As a country we live in excess and the people who land in US for the first time feel that excess that floats around. The excess has a cost that is not always paid by the people who own it. Somewhere down the food chain there is a scarcity we very conveniently forget to enjoy our excess. I have remained deaf and blind too long just so I do not confront the truth in its uncomfortable nature. But we all can be aware and from awareness a change can happen at least at our end.

Being aware of what we buy can really change the way life is of many people who get us what we buy. People whom we might never meet, people whose names or nationality or language we will never know. We will never know if they have families or kids, whom they take to day cares so they can toil in the farm lands. People whom we never think about when we eat that salad or curry or fish. People who make our excess so affordable for us. We can at least be aware and make a difference to start with. And I think that is just a step to being fair.

Along with Fairness comes sustainability and if we do not become aware about sustainability we are slowly putting the future of our earth in shackles that cannot be broken. So living sustainability is also at the core of our life.

Some of the places I researched and we can start with and join in being aware and contributing are

  1. The Fair Trade USA Website where you can know how every purchase of yours matter about http://fairtradeusa.org/products-partners/
  2. Watch the documentary http://www.foodchainsfilm.com/ and also check the site http://www.fairfoodprogram.org/ 
  3. Shop Sustainably http://www.sustainabletable.org/875/shop-sustainably because along with fairness we also need a commitment to sustainability
  4. The FairFood website http://www.fairfood.org/

The question we need to ask ourselves when we go out and buy food is How Fair is the food we eat? Are we being responsible as a consumer?

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