OXFAMCloseup, Fall 2014
Dignity: Now it's certifiable
As we were putting this issue of Closeup together, the harvest season was much on my mind. A time of plenty for many people here in the US, it’s also a season of excruciatingly hard work for those in the fields gathering the bounty for our tables. Their contribution to the abundance we enjoy is easily overlooked and usually undervalued by our food production system.
The history of farm labor in the US is rife with stories of abuse and, despite the long hot hours farmworkers put into their jobs, many of them do not earn enough to pull their families out of poverty. That’s why I’m proud that Oxfam has been a moving force behind the Equitable Food Initiative, or EFI—a new effort to tackle some of the injustices farmworkers endure. As you’ll read on page 6, improved working conditions, pesticide management, and food safety are the objectives of this certification program.
But it’s not only farmworkers in the US who need our attention. Our planet depends on the food countless small-scale farmers worldwide produce—often in challenging circumstances. Resource constraints make it difficult for many farmers, particularly women, to feed their families, and increasingly extreme weather is compounding their struggle.
One in nine of us across the globe goes to bed hungry every night—a profound injustice in a world with enough resources for all of us. Our aim is to right that wrong, to work with small-scale farmers so they can increase their productivity and self-reliance not only so they can grow the food their families need, but so they can expand their economic opportunities and build better lives for themselves.