“The most important thing you can do if you care about fair food is support an immigrant rights agenda in this country,” said Sandy Brown of Swanton Berry Farm. “There is nothing more important, as far as I can tell.”
Brown was speaking on a recent panel called The Fruits of Their Labor, sponsored by the Center for Urban Education for Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA). She was joined by three other women, all in some way engaged in the struggle to place worker justice on equal footing with other, more well-worn aspects of sustainability.
The panelists included Alegría De La Cruz, a staff attorney for the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment; Maisie Greenawalt, Vice President of Bon Appétit Management Company (BAMCO), Alida Cantor, a research associate with the California Institute for Rural Studies, and Brown, a co-owner of Swanton Berry farm and doctoral candidate researching agricultural labor. Although they brought a range of perspectives to the discussion, the need to raise awareness of immigration reform as a crucial piece of the sustainable food movement was a clear theme. And for good reason.
For the last several months, advocates, authors and doctors have been shining a light on the fundamental connection between food and healthcare. Thanks to Obama’s latest speech and the responses it elicited, the connection between healthcare and immigration is also front and center. The third side of this triangle - the interconnection between immigration and our food system — is perhaps the easiest for many eaters to overlook, making it all the more important to explore.