Bite Back: People Taking On Corporate Food and Winning

The food system is broken, but there is a revolution underway to fix it. Bite Back presents an urgent call to action and a vision for disrupting corporate power in the food system, a vision shared with countless organizers and advocates worldwide. In this provocative and inspiring new book, editors Saru Jayaraman and Kathryn De Master bring together leading experts and activists who are challenging corporate power by addressing injustices in our food system, from wage inequality to environmental destruction to corporate bullying.

In paired chapters, authors present a problem arising from corporate control of the food system and then recount how an organizing campaign successfully tackled it. This unique solutions-oriented book allows readers to explore the core contemporary challenges embedded in our food system and learn how we can push back against corporate greed to benefit workers and consumers everywhere.

On this episode of Real Food Reads, we’re going to take a look at labor. Long-time friend, partner, and movement ally Jose Oliva joins us to to discuss his chapter, co-authored with Joann Lo, “Food Workers versus Food Giants.” 

Listen to the companion Foodtopias episode, Laboring in a Pandemic

Praise for Bite Back

“Don’t despair! There is a surprising amount of good news in the struggle for better food systems, and most of it is revealed and analyzed in Bite Back.”

Mark Bittman, Editor in Chief of Heated

“This book’s pairing of critical analysis with insightful portraits of successful actions sets a new standard for collaborative writing about the problems and possibilities in our food systems. A hallmark collection useful to students, activists, researchers, and indeed, anyone with an interest in understanding how to change things for the better.”

—M. Jahi Chappell, Executive Director of SAAFON and author of Beginning to End Hunger

“Taking on corporate power through organizing is one of the most important things we can do today to save our democracy. This book can help you learn how.”—Abigail Disney, filmmaker and activist

Bite Back inspires! Farmers, workers, activists, and community members everywhere are resisting corporate power and winning food justice. Join us!”

—Monica White, author of Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement

About the Author

With a long history in labor organizing, Jose Oliva has served in several leadership positions at Casa Guatemala, Chicago Interfaith Workers’ Center, Interfaith Worker Justice’s National Workers’ Centers Network, Center for Community Change, and the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United – the national organization of restaurant workers. Jose was the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance a national coalition of food-worker organizations that collectively represents over 350,000 workers. Jose is also a 2017 James Beard Award recipient and a 2018 American Food Hero Awardee. Jose is currently the Campaigns Director at HEAL Food Alliance


About the Editors

Saru Jayaraman is Director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, President of One Fair Wage, cofounder of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United), and author of Behind the Kitchen Door and Forked: A New Standard for American Dining.

Kathryn De Master is a rural sociologist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California, Berkeley, and an affiliated scholar with the UC Berkeley Food Institute.

Additional Resources

Read “No Piece of the Pie”  Food Chain Workers Alliance report that digs into how food workers are exploited. 

Learn about The Good Food Purchasing Program and see if there’s a coalition in your region! 

Check out “Be-Trayed: How Kickbacks in the Cafeteria Industry Harm Our Communities—And What to Do About It” the latest report from the Real Meals Campaign 

Stay up to date on COVID-19 numbers in the food system with FERN.

Interested in the United Fruit Company and the US-backed coup in Guatemala? Read Bananas: How the United Fruit Company Shaped the World

Header Image: Chicago Tribune