Attacking the Corporate Tomato

In 2000, the Organization of American State (OAS) brought together representatives of all nation-states in the Americas for an annual meeting in Windsor. This gave Canadian social justice movements an opportunity to protest policies resulting from the neoliberal restructuring of the economy, initiated in the late 1980s. There was a counter-meeting of social movement activists from South and North America, and the Canadian Labour Congress organized a one-day forum on the day that the official talks began.

I was invited to produce a photo-exhibit based on my research on impact of NAFTA and other neoliberal projects on production and consumption, biodiversity and cultural diversity, work and technology, and health and environment. Using the journey of the corporate tomato as a code for globalization, I had produced two books on the subject: Women Working the NAFTA Food Chain and Tangled Routes: Women, Work and Globalization on the Tomato Trail. The popular summit in Windsor allowed me to produce a photo exhibit synthesizing the main ideas in the book.

I entitled the exhibit “Attacking the Corporate Tomato: Turning Globalization on its Head”, playing with a well-known film, “The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.” The first panels unveil the journey of the tomato from Mexican field to Canadian table. I decided to focus on the corporate agendas of a Mexican agribusiness and of a Canadian supermarket; featuring a woman worker in each context. The final panels offer examples of resistance and alternatives to the corporate food system.

The exhibit is deliberately very portable, and so it travelled over subsequent years to McGill University, a Global Agricultural Rules Meeting at the University of Toronto, a BioJustice conference at the St. Lawrence Centre, an Environmental Activism and Global Sustainable Development Forum at Concordia University in Montreal, a Participatory Action Research Conference at York University in Toronto, and an Indigenous Harvest Fair in Kahnawake, Quebec.