Fair food, fair societies – Blog by Maxine Tillij, Managing Director Fairfood a.i.


Fair food, fair societies

Today, Fairfood launches a new initiative: Global Food Week 2015. From October 12 to 16 we will highlight some of the most challenging issues in our global food chain and emphasize that we all have an important role to play in creating a system that is fair and inclusive for the farmers and food workers all over the world.

Eight out of 17 SDG’s apply to Fairfood’s work

The launch of Global Food Week could not have come at a better moment. The recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals ever so clearly underline the world’s commitment to fair and sustainable societies where all life can thrive, where human rights are respected, and with sustained and inclusive economic growth.

Our work focuses on 8 out of the 17 SDG’s, such as for example goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; and goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

We conduct research, campaign and build partnerships on topics such as human rights for food workers, fair wages and occupational safety and health. Only recently for example we published ‘Caught in a trap’, exposing the unacceptably low wages and harsh labor condition of shrimp workers in Asia; we engage with key retailers and brand owners to promote commitment to policy and practice changes in food supply chains; and we work with local partners to empower workers to voice their rights.

What is at stake?

Our global food supply chain leads to inequality. Food is often grown by farmers and workers whose human rights are violated. These workers make 14-hours working days in hazardous conditions for which they receive an income that is far below what is needed to provide proper food, housing, healthcare, day care and education for their families and children.

What should change?

We need to push profits down the value chain and create an inclusive global economy. The good thing is: the solutions are often simple. We can improve the lives of the food workers and their families by providing access to water at work for example, or by having day care facilities available for the youngest children. We should raise the workers’ wages to a fair level that enables them to take proper care of their families. We don’t have to give up on the rich variety of product in our fridge at a reasonable price, we just want it to be produced by workers who are knowledgeable on their rights and have the freedom of association to improve their labour conditions.

Who should be involved?

We all have an important role to play in making those changes happen. Governments should enforce international agreements on labour rights and working conditions; international food companies should end the imbalance of power and invest part of their profits in improving the lives of those who grow and harvest the products they sell; local businesses (restaurants, local supermarkets) can decide to only work with products that result from a fair system; consumers can raise their voice in support of the farmers and make fair choices in the food they buy.

With our Global Food Week 2015 campaign we raise awareness of the issues and solutions that need to be implemented for a fair and sustainable global food chain.

Please support our work; follow (and share!) our outreach this week on www.globalfoodweek.org or visit Fairfood’s website www.fairfood.org and become a supporter of our work.