“The work we do is too important to the nation. We are the people who make it possible for every meal to exist. We feed the nation and we ask, have always asked, for the possibility to feed our own families in a dignified way without having to be in a vulnerable position all the time…Right now our community is in need and that is going to be the case for a while…but then the most important thing is not how to go back to normal necessarily, because normal for us it’s poor, it’s vulnerable, it’s all the things that make it really scary when hurricanes hit our area.” –Gerardo Reyes Chavez, Coalition of Immokalee Workers

When hurricane Irma hit the Florida coast in September of 2017, one place under siege was Immokalee, FL; the center of the region’s agriculture industry and home to many immigrant and migrant families, where almost 90% of the nation’s tomatoes are harvested during the winter months.

In this edition of The Secret IngredientRaj Patel and Tom Philpott talk with Gerardo Reyes Chavez and Julia Perkins from The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, about not only about what is needed now in the aftermath of this devastating hurricane, but also about why this population is so vulnerable, underserved, and exploited, and what they have done to transform the food industry through the Fair Food Program.