The Food Integrity Campaign is excited to introduce our new Investigation and Outreach Coordinator, Roxanne Darrow. Originally from California, Roxy comes to us with a breadth of experience and passion when it comes to food issues. Learn more about the new member of our team in our short Q&A with her below.
What does food integrity mean to you?
Roxy: To me, food integrity means I can trust that a product I’m buying is what it says on the label. That it’s wholesome and safe to eat, yes. But also that the people who are producing it are safe, being paid fair wages in a good working environment. That they are proud of the product and they themselves would eat it. So thinking about the whole cycle of production. My favorite meals are when I know where the food comes from. It’s just more satisfying when you eat it.
What’s your role as an investigator?
Roxy: I think of myself as a data collector. I talk to people who work in the food system and want to blow the whistle on wrongdoing. I listen to firsthand accounts, determine all the facts, and piece together the full story of what’s going on. Aside from my investigative role, I also help educate the public about our efforts to protect food integrity whistleblowers and how you can get involved. Come say hi to me at our Green Fest table in Washington DC on June 5, 6 and 7th!
What are some concerns you’ve heard about from people working in the food system?
Roxy: I recently went to a meat inspector conference in Minnesota, and there were concerns about chemical exposure in slaughterhouses. Workers are experiencing symptoms such as burning eyes and bloody noses due to the increase in chemical use at poultry slaughterhouses under the newly implemented HIMP model. The lines are moving so fast at these plants that there’s more fecal contamination, so plants rely on chemicals to sterilize the chickens. Inspectors are saying “Nope, I wouldn’t eat a HIMP chicken.” We’re talking impacts to not only the product consumers are eating, but also to workers’ health and probably the environment too.
Tell us about your background as it relates to food.
Roxy: First off, I have a good amount of on-farm experience. In California, I worked on a five-acre, organic mixed vegetable farm where I gained tractor skills, greenhouse skills, and learned about chicken, hog, and sheep processing. I also farmed in Chile and worked for People’s Grocery, an urban agriculture program that taught me about food access inequality.
My agricultural awakening actually began while I was in college at Berkeley. I was a leader of the Student Organic Gardening Association and that was the first time I saw vegetables growing in the ground. That’s where it all started. I was also studying international development and was learning about different agriculture systems, particularly how other countries often look to the U.S. industrial model to develop their own food systems. I realized that we need to change what we do here in order to change the international approach to agriculture.
I’ve also served as a research fellow at Food & Water Watch. I wrote a report on how the U.S. State Department is pushing Monsanto’s GMOs abroad. To say the least, I care about food issues and holding our institutions accountable, and working for the Food Integrity Campaign is a perfect fit.