Food Workers, Food Justice

As a consequence of our globalized food system, many people have been pushed out of their land and traditional agriculture. They often end up in factory work or as farm workers, and frequently have to migrate to gain access to those positions. As farm workers, most don’t have control over the land, and are at the mercy of their employer.

In this module, you’ll learn more about the people at the center of our agricultural system and the history, conditions and issues that food and farmworkers face. Here, you’ll mainly look at the realities of labor in the US food system, however, the realities you’ll read about extend to many regions in the world, through each region has its own history and labor conditions.  You’ll watch film clips that will ground you in the day to day realities of being a farmworker, and also hear from farm workers in Washington State. Read on to get some context for labor in the US food system, followed by an overview of the history of farm workers in America and how they are often left out of the discussion of sustainable agriculture. You’ll then read about the treatment of farmworkers worldwide.

Film 1 & 2: Clips from “Food Chains Movie”

Film 2: Campesino

From Familias Unidas por la Justicia

Article 1: Food Workers, Food Justice

by Annie Shattuck, Eric Holt-Giménez, and Zoe Brent | Food First, 2010

Excerpt 1: Farmworker’s Rights

by Evan Weissman | The Encyclopedia of Organic, Sustainable, and Local Foods, 2009

 Excerpt 2: Justice in the Fields Report

by The Fair World Project


OPTIONAL: To learn more about farmworkers in the United States, see:

Food Chains:

A full-length film about the farm worker crisis in the United States. You can watch the trailer below.

To learn more about Familias Unidas por la Justicia, see their website: Familias Unidas por la Justicia

To read more about the history of Farm Work in the United States, see website: National Farm Worker Ministry as well as this timeline of Agricultural labor in the US.