Thinking back to barely a year ago, Oscar Vasquez says things have changed on the Oxnard, California farm where he works picking strawberries. For so long, he felt as though he was treated like little more than a cog in the fruit production machine—necessary to his employer, but also very replaceable.
But now, since his farm adopted a new approach to working with its employees, he feels better about going to work each day. Vasquez and his coworkers care more about the quality of the produce they’re picking and, he adds through a translator, “A lot of workers are staying for the whole season, which is a sign that they feel good about the farm.” Read more
I manage supply chains for Bon Appétit Management Company, which is another way of saying that my job is to think about chicken and pork. Not just the meat, but the lives of the animals themselves. I suspect there are few other non-meat-eaters whose corporate roles require them to think about farm animals as much as mine does.
But thinking about production systems and negotiating with suppliers can only go so far. Today, we’re saying that we’re fed up. Read more
I’ve long believed that chefs can radically reduce food waste by planning better, prepping less food, and donating leftovers, in that order. Other strategies, such as “tray-less dining,” help in “all you care to eat” settings, such as college dining halls. I recently decided to put my beliefs to the test. In doing so, I realized the limitations of my good intentions and how tough it can sometimes be to put ideas into practice. Read more
When it comes to improving conditions for farmworkers, a lack of good data is a huge obstacle. Anna Reynoso, the Mexico program director at the United Farm Workers UFW), says she’s never had a comprehensive source of answers to questions like what protections farmworkers have under the law, what type of challenges they face, or even how many of them are living in the US. “Finding this info has been a very piecemeal process as far as having to go to one agency or organization for one report at a time,” she says.
That’s why the newly released Inventory of Farmworker Issues and Protections in the United States is a big step forward for farmworker advocacy. The report, a joint effort by the Bon Appétit Management Company (BAMCO) Foundation and the UFW (with additional support from Oxfam America), compiles crucial data on the six states (California, Florida, Oregon, Washington, North Carolina, and Texas) with the largest farmworker populations. Read more
President Obama, recently speaking to students of his undergraduate alma mater, Columbia University, noted that, “Food at the cafeteria was notoriously bad. I didn’t have a lot of options. We used to joke about what was for lunch that day, and there would be a bunch of nondescript stuff that wasn’t particularly edible.” The next time POTUS is in town, I hope he stops by The Market Café at the University of San Francisco (USF) since cafeteria food has changed a whole lot since back in the day. And it’s not just for students: The Market Café is open to the public. Read more