Faraway: Get Out of Your World
Cheaper the Better?
Right now, off the coast of Thailand, slavery provides free labor on ships harvesting shrimp so that we can buy it at the cheapest price possible at Walmart and Costco here in America. This has been going on for years.
Demanding cheap prices comes at a cost greater than any financial market could measure. If you knew that slaves had endured untold atrocities so that you could get that cheap shrimp for your cocktail party this weekend, would you buy it?
The Guardian ran an article last week that killed my appetite for shrimp. Here is an excerpt:
Men who have managed to escape from boats supplying CP Foods and other companies like it told the Guardian of horrific conditions, including 20-hour shifts, regular beatings, torture and execution-style killings. Some were at sea for years; some were regularly offered methamphetamines to keep them going. Some had seen fellow slaves murdered in front of them.
Fifteen migrant workers from Burma and Cambodia also told how they had been enslaved. They said they had paid brokers to help them find work in Thailand in factories or on building sites. But they had been sold instead to boat captains, sometimes for as little as £250.
"I thought I was going to die," said Vuthy, a former monk from Cambodia who was sold from captain to captain. "They kept me chained up, they didn't care about me or give me any food … They sold us like animals, but we are not animals – we are human beings."
Another trafficking victim said he had seen as many as 20 fellow slaves killed in front of him, one of whom was tied, limb by limb, to the bows of four boats and pulled apart at sea.
"We'd get beaten even if we worked hard," said another. "All the Burmese, [even] on all the other boats, were trafficked. There were so many of us [slaves] it would be impossible to count them all."
CP Foods – a company with an annual turnover of $33bn (£20bn) that brands itself as "the kitchen of the world" – sells its own-brand prawn feed to other farms, and supplies international supermarkets, as well as food manufacturers and food retailers, with frozen or cooked prawns and ready-made meals. It also sells raw prawn materials for food distributors.
In addition to Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco, the Guardian has identified Aldi, Morrisons, the Co-operative and Iceland as customers of CP Foods. They all sell frozen or cooked prawns, or ready meals such as prawn stir fry, supplied by CP Foods and its subsidiaries. CP Foods admits that slave labour is part of its supply chain.
Here’s a link to the rest of the article:
Here’s how to buy slavery-free prawns: