A Red Round Problem

Ever wondered whether the tomatoes in your salad, sandwich or soup were grown and picked by modern-day slaves? Um, no? Well neither had I.

Apparently, though, this is something we should think about. We don’t like modern slavery (human trafficking). We consider it wrong. Then add to this that we actually get a lot of our tomatoes from Florida, produced by migrant workers who in some cases are pretty much just slaves. This equation doesn’t add up, does it?

Not to sound weird, but essentially, but our tomatoes need to be where our heart is.  Thankfully, we can actually do this. We just have to stop getting tomatoes from slave owners.

So, um . . . how do we do that? Thankfully, there are people on top of this problem who actually know what they are doing! These guys, The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and The Fair Food Standards Council (FFSC) have been raising awareness about injustices in U.S. tomato fields. They have set up some standards in the agricultural industry. There have been over 1000 slaves in sunny Florida freed! And now they are also trying to get grocery store and restaurant CEOs to only sell us tomatoes that come from good sources.

As usual, this stuff only happens when more people do it. Hence, the CIW and the FFSC have been working with International Justice Mission (IJM) to pull off the summer campaign, Recipe for Change. Then The Giving Table jumped in, as smart as they are, calling for bloggers to tell everyone about slave-free tomatoes TODAY.

Ideas for Action

So, what exactly can we do about this?

Currently, buy your tomatoes from a safe source. Right now, that is Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Your local farmer’s market is probably a good bet, too. And of course, you can always get in the garden and learn how to grow your own tomatoes!

But, slavery will still continue as long as there is still a market for the slightly cheaper tomatoes coming from slaves. By slightly cheaper I mean only 1.5 cents cheaper per pound! Surely its worth it for corporations to value lives in freedom enough to spend this miniscule amount of money- especially if I don’t mind paying it back to them myself as the consumer! So, besides just avoiding perpetuating this type of slavery by getting our tomatoes elsewhere, we need to generate enough public interest for corporations and the agricultural world to raise their standards.

One way you can do this is to sign this petition, targeting some major tomato buyers/sellers (Gaint, Kroger’s, Stop-and-Shop, etc…). You can download it here, as well, if you want to get people from your community to sign it! Feel free to also write restaurant chains, other grocery stores, and even the ketchup people, if you are ambitious!

Then, as always, increase awareness. Online, post a recipe you can make using slave-free tomatoes! Facebook it! Blog it! Tweet it! Pin it! Give it to your friends! Put it on a recipe website! When they ask you why your recipe says “slave-free” you have an opportunity to share about how you are hoping to play a part in ending modern slavery in our own country.

If you DO post a recipe, please also put it in the comments section below (or link to it in the comments) so we can see it too!

Elisa’s Slave-Free Chicken Tortilla Soup

Here is my recipe for change! I made it last night for dinner and it tasted AWESOME! It was perfect for my sick family, and even my little kids liked it!

  • 1whole organic chicken
  • 6+ cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 onion and 1 bell pepper very finely chopped
  • Avocado, diced
  • 3-4 large tomatoes, diced
  • Can of diced tomatoes (or Rotel)
  • Cheddar/Mozerella or Jack Cheese
  • Tortilla chips
  • Sour Cream
  • 1+ TBS Hot Sauce (I used Frank’s)
  • 1 TBS Cumin
  • 1 TBS Chili powder
  • 1 TBS Cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp Oregano
  • Pepper (1 tsp?)
  • Salt (1 tsp?)
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  1. Slice chicken in half and set in large pot.
  2. Fill with water, covering chicken.
  3. Add in garlic, onion, pepper.
  4. Cook for 1-2 hours (until chicken starts to fall off the bone).
  5. Pull out chicken, de-bone.
  6. Return half (or more) of the chicken back into the pot (I saved the chicken breasts to use later).
  7. Add diced tomatoes, canned tomatoes, and spices.
  8. Cook 10-15 minutes, adding more spices to taste.
  9. Put soup in bowls.
  10. Cover with a handful of broken tortilla chips.
  11. Sprinkle with cheese and diced avocado.
  12. Add a dolop of sour cream.