New Guide Uplifts Food Labels that Fight Injustice

October 27, 2016

Labor, Youth, Environment & Farmer groups all contribute to “Real Food Standards 2.0”

Real Food Challenge, the largest student food justice organization in the country, today released the Real Food Standards 2.0, one of the most comprehensive and up-to-date compilation of credible food labels and certifications on the market. The standards shed light on the work of countless farmworker activists and food producers who are creating new systems for valuing the agricultural workforce, humanely raising animals and bringing sustainability into their business practices.

“Farmworker-driven social responsibility programs promoted by groups like the Coalition of Immokalee Workers have already dramatically changed the wages and working conditions of farmworkers. Seafood aggregators that are building in traceability to their distribution systems and supporting thousands of small, independent boats are reviving our fisheries,” said Hannah Weinronk, National Program Coordinator at Real Food Challenge. “These are the types of practices we need to support as a movement -- and the Real Food Standards really hold that up. This is the future of our food economy. Now we have a roadmap and guide.”

The Real Food Standards 2.0 were researched over the course of 18 months, with input of more than 100 academics, farmers, ranchers, fishermen, farmworker groups and food industry experts. 130 certification and label claims were vetted; 40 now qualify as “green light” or “yellow light” in the final version of the Standards 2.0.

The updated Real Food Standards 2.0 feature:

  • Clear explanations of the labor abuses and egregious human rights violations that must be rooted out of our food supply chains
  • Guidelines for determining if a product originates from a truly “Local & Community-based business” and not just a Coca-Cola bottling plant down the road
  • Disqualifications for animal products that are produced under confinement (also known as CAFOs) -- which are known to pollute and contaminate rural communities
  • New recognition for innovative “Worker-driven Social Responsibility Programs” that bring products that support farmworker dignity to cafeterias and grocery stores near you.

“Our original Real Food Standards have been adopted by 80+ colleges and universities and used to rate nearly 600,000 individual products as ‘real’ or not. We’ve used the Standards to train more than 1,000 student researchers to investigate their school’s food supply chains and influence purchasing decisions,” said Anim Steel, Executive Director of Real Food Generation. “We’re thrilled to release this 2.0 guide and amplify the work of grassroots groups fighting injustice in the food industry”

Real Food Challenge helps schools track sustainable food purchases with the Real Food Calculator, an online app that pairs with the Real Food Standards 2.0 and helps institutions process and analyze thousands of line-item purchasing records.