Want to be an Active Advocate?

Want to be an Active Advocate? Join an Event Committee or become a Lead. Get involved! Email us at Chicago@OxfamActionCorps.org



So what does the word integrity really mean?

This weekend I participated in two Chicago food events that from their titles sounded similar but ended up being very different.

The first event, Cultivate, was sponsored by Chipotle to market their Foodwith Integrity program with family activities, a live band, interesting food and well designed exhibits. There were thousands of people in attendance and at any given time there were perhaps a hundred people standing in line to see an exhibit of Chipotle’s sustainable agriculture and animal welfare programs. I thought it a bit odd that people would get so excited about the living conditions of pigs, but then I realized that the people standing in line had a little motivational nudge because after walking through the exhibit a stamp would be awarded that would eventually lead to a free burrito.

The second event that I attended was a rally put on by the Coalition ofImmokalee Workers (CIW) that used music and theatre to bring awareness to the human rights issues of agricultural workers in Florida. I learned about the CIW’s Fair Food Program to solicit corporations to sign an agreement to ensure fair pay and humane working conditions for tomato pickers.

Sounds like food with integrity, right? Well, it just so happens that CIW was holding their rally right outside of the entrance to the Chipotle event to raise awareness to the fact that Chipotle has not signed the agreement (Subway, McDonalds, Taco Bell, Whole Foods and Trader Joes have all signed). The purpose of the CIW rally was to raise public awareness and to encourage Chipotle to further their leadership in the sustainable food movement by signing the agreement that would provide transparency and accountability to wages and working conditions.

Chipotle’s Cultivate event was fun, easy and comfortable. It assured me that by eating at Chipotle I was doing my part and no further action or sacrifice was needed. But the CIW event was different. I shook hands with people that work in near slave like conditions so that I can pay a little bit less for my tomatoes. I was presented with information on the working conditions of agricultural workers in the US that made me uncomfortable with the source of my food.

And although I actually had more fun at the CIW event because it was so intimate and authentic, I left with much more than a fun experience. I left with a connection to a new group of people and with a conviction to pay more attention to the integrity of my food choices. 

For more info about the CIW rally see the Just Harvest blog post about the event (I borrowed their pic to help spread the word)

Alicia F.


GROW Method: Buy Local

Buy Local
The GROW method, in five concepts, supports a better food system by empowering you the citizen to build a healthier food industry. One of the first facets is…Buy local. It’s easier than it may seem. Not everything is made or grown in China! Whether its cheese from the up north or corn from the farm stand down the road, Illinois hosts wide markets to support local families. If you are a suburbanite, city-dweller, or neighbor of farmers, you make an impact when you buy food. There are farmers markets everywhere in Illinois to buy local. In fact grocery stores like Jewel-Osco and Whole Foods label where their foods come from for shoppers o support local. We make a conscious decision to buy from Wisconsin or Argentina. In buying local, we support families who make a living off of supplying food to any size population. 

 Whole Foods Naperville Signs

The GROW method also employs efforts to address issues like climate change. When buying local, we reduce carbon foot print. In reducing the emissions that come from shipping food from cross country or across the world we can change the increasingly fragile atmosphere. When possible, buying directly from farmers benefits their family and at the same times protects the environment. The best part is, you can get to know who makes your food! Dinner tastes more delicious when you know who grows your food. 
What to look for on products from abroad

While we make our best efforts to buy local, we can always promote facets of good business. If there is a special treat that comes from China, Bolivia or anywhere else, check to see if it is a Fair Trade product. This ensures ethical business practices that support local farmers across the globe. We may never meet these farmers, we may not even know where their location is on a map, but we can support them by supporting good business practices.

When we buy local, we share our table with farmers. Together we reduce the overwhelming pressure that farmers face based on the nature of their business, influence of big government and shortages due to climate change.  
How simple is it to buy local?

  • Check out this website for Illinois Farmers Markets
  • Visit FamilyFarmed.org  to keep up on the latest local events that support farmers
  • Try new local foods you have never tried before using some recipes on our Pinterest page!
If you have more ideas or want to tell us on how YOU are Buying Local, let us know chicago.oxfamactioncorps@gmail.com. Follow us on Twitter for the latest updates @chioxfamaction. Remember, together, we can all make a difference.

-Megan Nakra

First Person: Voices, video, and photos from Oxfam's fight against poverty