Tuesday, April 08, 2008

My quandary about Burger King and tomatoes

I didn't participate in the Taco Bell boycott.

I didn't threaten to boycott McDonald's.

Now that the Campaign for Fair Food is focusing its attention on Burger King, I would be likely to act as I have in the past, except for one fact: Burger King doesn't want my business.

Screenshot from Burger King website showing no Burger King Restaurants at this addressBurker King has closed its stores in the area so threats to boycott would be especially empty.

The dispute between the Campaign for Fair Food and the fast food chains has always struck me as highly triangulated. The actual parties (at least in my understanding) are the tomato pickers and their employers, but the Campaign's strategy has been to threaten boycotts against the restaurant chains that purchase the tomatoes.

It would be hypocrisy for me to go to economic war against the corporate purchasers of tomatoes when I make my own small-scale purchasing decisions in the same way they make their large-scale decisions.

When the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was putting pressure on Taco Bell, I continued to eat there, and I communicated with the chain as a customer to tell them that if they reached an agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, that would enhance the value to me of patronizing their restaurants.

When McDonald's was in the cross-hairs of the Campaign, I made the same kind of communication, while continuing to patronize their restaurants.

But now that I am living where Burger King has closed their restaurants, I have no standing as a loyal customer. What am I to do?

The recent dealings with Burger King have brought to light new information about the actual parties to the dispute. It seems that there is an organization of tomato growers called the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange. This cartel (they call themselves a "cooperative") has an amazing amount of power over the wages the growers in Florida are allowed to pay. It has even interfered with the fair agreements that Yum Corporation and McDonald's reached with the CIW.

Is there any reason why I should not simply boycott Florida tomatoes?

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