Certification looks at employment practices
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Not all food is grown equally.
"Organic has become a known term when it comes to farms that don't use synthetic chemicals.
Family Organic Farms hidden behind a southeast Gainesville neighborhood is a farm doing things a little bit different.
"I wanted to get the certification to be able to show we're doing things right," owner Jordan Brown explains. "We're just trying to make farm labor a normal job."
Brown is the first farmer in the southeast to be "food justice certified."
"Make enough money to live on, give people sick time off...paid vacation days. I try to treat everyone with respect and have a safe place to work."
Basic benefitsBrown says many take for granted. 'The receptionist at the lawyer's office...those kind of things come hand in hand."
Leah Cohen with the Agricultural Justice Project, the organization that certifies farmers, says it's about treating all those involved from farm to table fairly.
"There are a lot of farms and businesses that are ethically aligned with this program and looking to make it known for those who are buying their projects. Then there are a lot of consumers that we were with that are interested in putting their money into something that has good working conditions and fairness."
The movement was started about 15 years ago when some noticed a lack of transparency in the industry when it came to poor working conditions for field workers.
"Farm labor jobs are low pay, sometimes somewhat hazardous conditions. We want to make farm work a normal job."
The power -they realized - was not in their hands.
"The power really lies with the consumer...the people buying the food in grocery stores...the public."
The food justice label is on products from farms that meet those requirements. A label, they say, that sparks interest in consumers.
"I have this food justified label on these carrots...what does that mean?"
"They want to figure out what is that...and we've had pretty positive response from our CSA and people that shop at the farmers market."
Many farmers, however, don't' just sell to the average joe. A good portion of Brown's sales are from wholesale.
"At the moment there's no wholesale customer that cares about the program. It's about quality and price."
Regardless, Brown's employees will be treated fairly.
"It's something we're going to do as a farm even if there isn't a certification."
A small difference, he believes, will build his customer base one basket at a time.
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