Wendy's and Publix are the two biggest companies that haven't signed on for 'Fair Food.' What is it?

In 1960, Edward R. Murrow exposed the deplorable conditions of farming in Florida and other parts of the South in a one-hour documentary entitled, "Harvest of Shame."

It horrified Americans at the time.


GIF from "Harvest of Shame."

In 1995, Dan Rather followed up in the CBS report "Legacy of Shame."

And things had not changed much during that time, despite promises, legislation, "focus groups," and more.

As Rather reported, "These are still forgotten people. Conditions for them are still awful."

Around that time, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) got its start.

As Greg Asbed says in the below clip, it was a hard road.

"When we were first here, it was a very brutal community. There were wage thefts, sexual harassment, violence. I mean, you would come out here on a Friday in the evening for payday ... it was not uncommon to see somebody get beaten up by a boss. And their crime would usually be because they felt they got underpaid."

People working in the tomato fields knew that they had the toughest jobs, so that's where the CIW began — in Florida. For seven years, they tried strikes and marches, but the tomato farmers wouldn't budge.

So … they changed strategies, launching a new program called the "Fair Food Program," reaching out directly to suppliers and buyers of the produce — specifically, tomatoes. Taco Bell was the first to sign on in 2005.

End-buyers, like Walmart, McDonald's, and more, pay an extra penny per pound for all tomatoes picked and shipped to be a part of the "Fair Food Program."

Plus, they participate in the independent Fair Food Standards Council, which inspects farms and makes sure certain standards are met — such as zero tolerance for forced labor, child labor, and sexual harassment. Some go even further than that. It's made a huge difference in the lives of these farm workers, and it's forced out some of the farmers who were part of the worst abusers of the law.

Now, 90% of Florida's tomatoes are grown on " Fair Food Certified" farms. And there's a new label that people — and buyers — can look for:

What difference does it make?

In addition to the base work standards that the Fair Food Standards Council enforces, it means an extra $60 to $80 per week for workers … a significant amount for people who might make less than $20,000 a year.

What else does it give people?

It gives people hope.

And to help encourage the two biggest companies (*cough* Wendy's and Publix *cough*) who have not signed on for fair food, go here.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.