The Co-op has received several requests from our shoppers and owners to join in a boycott of all products sold under the Driscoll’s label. The Co-op has been aware of the controversy surrounding Driscoll’s since 2014, when the Sakuma Brother’s farm in Washington, an independent grower for Driscoll’s, first became targeted by the Familias Unidas union boycott. We are also aware of labor unrest in the Baja area of Mexico, specifically surrounding BerryMex, a major supplier of berries to Driscoll’s.
For more than 40 years, the Chico Natural Foods Co-op has empowered people to shop according to the dictates of their consciences, philosophies, and physical needs. From the perspective of product selection, that means that we emphasize local and organic products which support consumers’ preferences for fair labor practices and environmental sustainability.
Our support of brands like Equal Exchange, Alaffia, Dr.Bronner’s, Organic Valley, La Riojana Wine Cooperative, and many more, along with countless local farmers and producers means that in this way, we have made an important impact ingrowing the market for goods that support our Co-op’s vision. By pro-actively supporting these kinds of items we are making both an ecological impact in our world and also a sociological impact in the communities that produce the goods.
At the same time we strive to be a full-service store that you can count on to get the grocery items you and your families want and need. As a cooperative grocery store, we understand that we need to sell consistently high quality products and everyday basics. The choice of what to buy is largely yours. We stock the products you want and buy – it is your responsibility to vote with your dollars and support the brands, foods, and company missions that are important to you. To that end, we very rarely engage in store-wide boycotts of specific companies. We will however help connect you to product information to help you make informed decisions.
In these particular instances involving Driscoll’s it is important to note that Driscoll’s is a global distribution company with a vast network of independent suppliers. They directly own and operate only a small portion of the farms they do business with. Indeed, they purchase produce from many California organic growers. A boycott of Driscoll’s is also a boycott of every farm they do business with.
Because of our cooperative aversion to storewide boycotts, Driscoll’s relationship with many ethical organic farmers in California and beyond, and recent developments at Sakuma Brothers Farm in Washington (the union has called for an end to the boycott) and at BerryMex in Mexico (Fair Trade certification), the Co-op will not be boycotting Driscoll’s products as a store at this time.
What can shoppers do?
We strongly encourage shoppers to educate themselves and others about food issues, and make decisions accordingly. We have gathered resources (which can be found below) to aid in your understanding of this complex issue. If you feel that you cannot purchase berries grown by any farm associated with the Driscoll’s corporation, then that is your right as an educated consumer. Organizing a consumer boycott of all farmers who sell through Driscoll’s is also your right as an engaged, conscientious consumer, and the Co-op is in full support of shoppers making those decisions.
Every controversy, every trending topic, is an opportunity for us to learn more about the complicated web that is the modern food system and to improve our impact on those around us. Please send concerns, comments, and questions; an open dialogue makes all of us, and our community, better.
To more fully understand this issue please explore the following resources:
Letters prepared by the National Farm Workers’ Ministry to send to Driscoll’s and Sakuma Brothers, expressing the writer’s support of the Familias Unidas por la Justicia attempt to become the official union for Sakuma Brothers’ Workers: Click Here.
Message from Familias Unidas por la Justicia regarding their agreement with Sakuma Brothers: https://boycottsakumaberries.com/
The Worker Welfare Policies to which Driscoll’s holds its growers: http://www.driscolls.com/about/WorkerWelfare
Los Angeles Times article on the aftermath of the Baja labor actions in Mexico: http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-me-baja-farm-labor-snap-story.html
Information regarding Driscoll’s partnership with Fair Trade USA: http://www.thepacker.com/news/driscoll%E2%80%99s-fair-trade-pilot-extends-social-responsibility-reach