Is Your Food Grown by Oppressed Farmworkers?

Episode 116 1h 1m


Social injustice is all around us. With the age of COVID-19, we see it in the higher rates of illness in our most underserved communities. On a larger, everyday scale we see it in the exploitation of farmworkers we all rely on to produce our food. Of course, these are only two examples of many human rights issues that we all should be thinking about.

We often make a mistake in thinking we’re too insignificant to help. We’re not politicians, lobbyists, philanthropists, so what could we possibly do? The answer is a lot—with each small step of activism we take, we send positive ripples out into our communities and the rest of the world.

I was so excited to sit down with my good friend Kerry Kennedy to talk about human rights activism and how her family has historically been a part of producing positive social change.

Kerry comes from a family that shows deep love for others through activism. She shares how this was passed down from her parents, Robert and Ethel Kennedy, and how that helped shape her life.

The social injustice surrounding food and farmworkers is something I’m especially passionate about and really dug into for my last book, Food Fix. Kerry has been a powerful force in advocating for fair wages and benefits, such as time off, as well as protective measures like disability insurance, for this essential group of workers. We discuss some of the ways this population has historically been marginalized and how we can continue to push for equality in the present day.

And of course, we touch on the topic of coronavirus. With all the negativity and worry surrounding the pandemic, it’s important to focus on what we might be able to gain from the experience. Kerry and I talk about the silver linings, like a greater appreciation for family, community, and a connectedness to nature. There are good things we can take out of this hard time if we harness the right energy.

This is such an uplifting conversation. I hope you’ll tune in.

Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD

Topics Covered

  • Robert and EtheKennedy’s social justice work and how it influenced Kerry’s human rights work

    (3:31 - 7:06)

  • Exploitation of food and farm workers in the U.S. and New York state

    (14:16 - 17:51)

  • How Black people were intentionally excluded from the Fair Labor legislation passed by President Roosevelt

    (19:59 - 23:34)

  • The importance of allowing collective bargaining among farm workers

    (22:35 - 26:10))

  • The Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ work preventing exploitation of farm workers and how their model is being replicated around the world

    (25:42 - 30:15)

  • The Fair Food Program and how it’s different from most social responsibility compacts

    (32:26 - 36:59)

  • Health, economic, and human rights inequities in the United States

    (35:51 - 40:24)

  • The silver linings of the coronavirus pandemic

    (38:54 - 43:27)

  • RFK’s moral imagination, his role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the speech he gave on the night of MLK Jr.’s assisnation

    (44:23 - 48:56)

  • Social emotional learning

    (53:25 - 57:58)

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Host & Guests


Automatically generated. Please forgive any typos or errors in the following transcript. It was generated by a third party and has not been subsequently reviewed by our team.

Kerry Kennedy (00:00): I think people's instinct is to say, "There's nothing I can do. What can I do? I don't have the power. I'm not a president. I'm not a senator. I'm not [crosstalk 00:00:09]." There's stuff we can do. Dr. Mark Hyman (00:16): Welcome to the Doctor's Farmacy. I'm Dr. Mark Hyman. It's Farmacy with an F, F-A-R-M-A-C-Y, a place for conversations that matter. If you care about human rights and justice and what can be done to fix some of the big injustices and disparities in our society, this conversation is going to matter to you, because this was none other than Kerry Kennedy, who's the president of the RFK Human Rights program, which is an incredible organization that I've been involved with over the years. She..

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Ep. 116 - Is Your Food Grown by Oppressed Farmworkers?