Lessons From Cesar Chavez

Years ago when I saw Cesar Chavez from the United Farm Workers (UFW) speak at UMASS he said for a boycott to be successful it needs to decrease sales by an average of 9%. I was amazed that the percentage was so low!! You don't need to kill a company's sales to get them to change; just be able to fire a shot across their bow and then they will come to the negotiating table to reduce pesticide use, improve working conditions etc...

With this in mind, I was thinking that if all/many of us could try to shop 10% more often at locally owned businesses or for local and/or organic food that this would be a huge benefit for the farmers, businesses and our community. This is my encouragement to myself and all of you; for all of us to take a look at what each of us is doing in our daily lives to promote sustainability and community and to try to do a little more. Maybe the number you shoot for is 5%, 10 or 20% or higher. Whichever the number, I'm here to encourage each of us to take a look at our lives and just try to do a little more.

Maybe it is eating more seasonally, carpooling more often, eating more vegetarian meals, eating more grass fed beef, volunteering more of your time or giving a little bit more money to non-profit groups you feel aligned with. If each of us could set a goal, any goal, to do more than what we are currently doing then the world we all want and need would come that much faster.

Through their boycott of table grapes and lettuce, the UFW successfully got companies to ban the use of various pesticides even before the Federal Government acted; who knows what successes our actions now will help to bring about. 

-Dan Finn