Food Co-ops Welcome a National Partner for Farmworker Justice

By: Co+op
Campesinos Sin Fronteras, a member organization of the Mother Earth Project, at their community grove located in Arizona.

Farmworkers in the United States face enormous physical, economic and psychological challenges in order that people across the country may eat. Food co-ops, like other grocers, would have nothing to sell if not for the labor of farmworkers. It is a relationship between essential workers on the farm and in the grocery store, and joining together we can strengthen safety and food security for all food workers.

Partnering with Alianza Nacional de Campesinas

Food co-ops that are members of National Co+op Grocers (NCG) have partnered at the national level with Alianza Nacional de Campesinas (National Alliance of Farmworker Women). This nonprofit is the first national women farmworkers’ organization, created by current and former women farmworkers, along with women who hail from farmworker families.  

Alianza’s mission is to unify the struggle to create broader visibility and advocate for changes that ensure farmworkers’ human rights. Their advocacy efforts are focused on the intersection of gender, migrant, labor and climate justice—working for sustainable and healthy communities where farmworkers and their families can live well and thrive.

Educating Congress about Harms of Pesticide Exposure

NCG is contributing financially to Alianza’s programs and advocacy efforts focused on raising awareness of the devastating health issues endured by farmworkers as a result of exposure to pesticides on the job. Miscarriage and birth defects are rampant; in a meeting with members of la Alianza, campesinas told food co-op representatives stories of pain and loss related to pesticide exposure and indicated that most farmworker families have been touched in some way by pesticide health issues.

Farmworker Food Sovereignty

In addition to policy advocacy, Alianza’s work on pesticides also includes a program called the Mother Earth Project, which draws upon ancestral knowledge and experience that exists in farmworker communities to produce fresh, pesticide-free foods for themselves. Because wages for farmworkers are low, these foods are not otherwise affordable. The Mother Earth Project helps farmworkers gain access to unused land for community gardens. This includes lobbying for farmworker rights at the city, state and federal level so that workers in farm encampments have land access to grow their own culturally appropriate, pesticide-free food.

Why Did We Choose to Support this Organization?

We chose to support la Alianza’s work on pesticide exposure and the Mother Earth Project because it aligns with NCG food co-ops’ collective advocacy guidelines related to inclusive economies, racial equity, food justice, and environmental responsibility, particularly with respect to environmental racism and food sovereignty.

What’s more, people identifying as women make up nearly half of the agricultural labor force globally. According to the United Nations (UN), when provided with the same resources as men, women’s productivity increases yields by 20-30%. Improved efficiency translates to reduced climate impact. UN studies show that investing in gender equality and women’s empowerment improves environmental conservation, poverty reduction and development of sustainable communities.

Take action and learn how you can support Alianza Nacional de Campesinas and their work to secure rights and wellbeing for farmworker families across the U.S.