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Food Workers

February 20th, 2013

Didn’t have time to prepare something special for Valentines but I did go out to eat, one of the things I like the most. Everyone does right?

Well, when you go out, do you pay attention to the people who is behind the food we eat? (And I am not talking here about the well known chef who barely touches the pots). Do you ever pay attention to their faces? Do you have any idea about all the hard work behind your dinner plate? Do you even consider there is a bunch people working while you are having a feast and that these same people might never be able to have the same kind of party?

Tough and annoying subject, I know. But this week I came across this article by Dr. Megan Clayton, from the Center for a Livable Future and it keeps punching me in the face. In my short journey working in restaurants I attested so many unfair situations and didn’t get chance to do much. The reality is the major part of the employees is forced to conform or lose their jobs instead. The media pictures a lovely scenery on the culinary world but the truth is the brutal force that runs the industry is composed by people who doesn’t have option other than to be there, people who doesn’t dream on pursuing a career inside of a restaurant just because for them this is underemployment. They just dream one day they will be free.

Here in the US, Food Industry employs over 10 million workers but unfortunately it is also the lowest-paying employer in America. Of course even in this troubled economy there are owners that still treat their employees fairly, but the overwhelming reality is that many workers still face issues such as wage theft, health and safety risks, lack of access to benefits, race and gender discrimination, poverty and such. Brazil is not different and I don’t believe, even being away for almost five years now, things have changed there.

This is a serious concern but fortunately, as consumers I believe we can still be doing something. We have a strong voice and the power to make the best choices. Here are some links might help you take part:

The ROC Diners Guide is an app ( where you can search restaurants by criteria such as paid sick days, advancement opportunities, and living wage. It currently includes cities like Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, & Washington DC. : a website where you can find real stories of real workers and get connected with a food workers, advocates and enthusiasts who wish to “act in support of a food system that is more responsible, safe and just”.


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