Author Barry Estabrook Gives MBA Evening Students Food for Thought at Leadership Residency

March 14, 2012

On Saturday, March 3, 2012, the MBA Evening Program kicked off its leadership residency by examining food justice.  

“If you’ve ever eaten a tomato from a university café or supermarket, you probably have eaten a fruit picked at the hands of a slave,” said Barry Estabrook, author of Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit.
Estabrook and members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), Greg Asbed and Gerardo Reyes, discussed worker and human rights from the lens of farm workers in the tomato industry in Florida.
“Farm workers are on call seven days a week, without health care, sick days, or benefits,” said Estabrook, who explained the title of his book, by noting that more than 90 percent of workers report being sprayed with pesticides, and one-third of them report being sprayed daily. “That’s why I named the book ‘Tomatoland’. This was not the United States, this was another country.”
Asbed and Reyes, who has worked in the fields since age 11, provided examples from their experience.
“Everyday low prices are driven by everyday low prices for the labor,” said Asbed. “We can’t talk about sustainable food without talking about the workers who pick the food.”
This discussion prompted students to think about human rights, as a precursor to topics of morality, poverty, human sustainability and advocating for others that they would study later in the four-day residency.  
“The leadership residency is about inspiring the minds and hearts of future business leaders,” said Robert Bies, professor of management at the McDonough School of Business and director of the residency. “It’s about using passion, purpose, and practical skills to change the world we live in. This residency focuses on leading change and making a difference in an organization.”
To learn more about the McDonough School of Business MBA Evening Program, visit
-Lamar Dawson